Sex addiction has taken a while to be accepted as mental health disorder, both within the professional and public domains.
Many people are still quick to dismiss the condition as nothing more than an excuse used by self-serving men to justify ongoing irresponsible sexual behaviour. The notion of sex addiction is more likely to inspire judgment than compassion.
Like other addictions, the addiction to sex is a compulsive cycle of negativity that begins and ends with feeling bad. The person is unable to gain control in any kind of sustainable way, except by acknowledging the problem and getting outside help. It is characterised by denial, repeated efforts to keep on track which keep failing because of compulsive responses to triggers. Apart from a brief ‘hit’ from the release of dopamine in the brain, it’s not enjoyable. Sex addiction is deeply mired in intense feelings of shame, guilt, anger, hopelessness, anxiety and despair.
In an article published by the Independent (UK) – Sex addiction: A compulsion that hurts partners in a way no other addiction can, it discusses how sex addiction affects relationships.
Sex addiction can hurt a partner in a way that no other addiction can, says Paula Hall, who has written a book on the subject. Sex Addiction: The Partner’s Perspective is overdue, Hall believes, with thousands of partners across the UK struggling with something that evokes all the most destructive ingredients of personal pain – betrayal, infidelity, deceit and shame. “Sex addiction feels extremely personal when you’re the partner because it affects the most intimate part of your relationship in a way that, say, alcohol or drugs just don’t,” she explains.
“I could have dealt with a gambling addiction or alcoholism – anything but this,” Rachel confirms. Like most partners, she initially didn’t buy into the concept of sex addiction (“it sounded like a pretty weak excuse for an affair”) and even when she did start to believe that her husband’s behaviour was compulsive, her friends didn’t (“they’d look at me in despair, asking since when had sexual desire became a monster that can’t be controlled”), leaving her feeling isolated. To read the article in full click here.
Sex addiction and other behavioural addictions will be discussed at the Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference 2016, themed Alcohol – Other Drugs – Behavioural Addictions, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery will be held on the Gold Coast from the 19 – 20 May 2016. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.