Sexual addiction is a model for explaining sexual urges that are extremely frequent or cause you to feel that you are out of control.
Sex recovery centers have become more common since 1983, when Patrick Carnes published his book "Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction."
Because there is no set criteria, it is difficult to determine accurate prevalence rates for sex addiction in the United States. However, hypersexuality is a symptom of mental psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, so even though there is no clear diagnostic criteria in the DSM-V, problems surrounding sex have a clear presence in the mental health community.
Sex recovery programs often use three characteristics to identify sex addicts: sexual preoccupation, sexual compulsivity, and an inability to stop. A preoccupation with sex means that a sex addict thinks about sex continually throughout the day and is unable to obtain respite from sexual thoughts such as where to get sex, how to find partners, and how to make it more exciting. This preoccupation often causes problems including poor job performance and strained personal relationships.
Sexual compulsivity means that sex addicts often act on their impulses to have sex. This sexual obsession is far above the normal desire to have sex. Compulsive sexual behavior typically leads to an increase in the frequency of sexual acts and the number of sex partners. Sex addicts must continually get more sex to obtain the same level of euphoria, which typically becomes self-destructive at some point.
The inability to stop signifies that sex addicts are unable to control their compulsive thoughts and behavior related to having sex despite their desire to do so. Their intense desire for sex erodes their desire to cease or even reduce excessive sexual activity. This craving is similar to that present in other forms of addiction, such as alcohol , drug, and gambling addiction .
Sex recovery treatment programs include the following types:
- Residential treatment programs.
- Intensive outpatient programs.
- Outpatient programs.
- 12-step groups.
A residential treatment facility provides patients with a safe environment for recovering from a sexual addiction, and they're often located in secluded areas. These types of facilities allow patients to work with counselors and therapists in a quiet environment, eliminating any potential distractions. Residential treatment facilities offer a variety of different therapies, including group and individual sessions, as well as educational classes and recreational activities. This type of treatment may last up to six weeks.
An intensive outpatient program suits sex addicts who can't afford the expense of a residential program. Outpatient programs typically last two weeks and provide a curriculum of therapy sessions and classes that allow the patient to eliminate obsessive sexual behavior. A typical schedule is five days each week for up to eight hours per day.
An outpatient center for sexual addiction allows a patient to attend sessions as recommended for his particular treatment program. Often associated with a major hospital, an outpatient center also offers various therapies such as 12-step meetings and family counseling.
Counseling or therapy sessions for sex addicts are typically conducted by a trained therapist, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, or a certified sex addiction therapist. Counseling sessions are often best for patients who don't want group therapy. This type of counseling is often available as part of the aftercare program for a residential treatment center.
A 12-step group for sex addicts is modeled after the original 12-step program used to treat alcoholism , although it tailored to sexual addiction. Sex Addicts Anonymous is free, and while each group may have a distinct philosophy on sexual addiction, meetings are open to any sex addict who wishes to stop his compulsive sexual behavior. These addiction recovery programs are based on face-to-face meetings, although additional communication methods are also available, including online chat and telephone meetings.