Overcoming Sex Addiction

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There are treatment options for overcoming sex addiction. Although it's still not an official diagnosis in the profession of psychology (and won't be in the Diagnostic Manual due out in 2013) reading the catch-all description for "other sexual disorders" will ring a bell: "...distress about a pattern of repeated sexual relationships involving a succession of lovers who are experienced by the individual only as things to be used." (Other examples include: compulsive fixation on an unattainable partner, compulsive masturbation, compulsive love relationships, and compulsive sexuality in a relationship.)

It's the repeated use of the word "compulsive" that brings it home as a true addiction. But without a clear diagnosis, what treatments can the medical community offer for overcoming sex addiction?

An old approach was to treat sex addiction as a mental or hormonal disorder alone and treat with either anti-depressants or, in extreme cases (involving criminal actions) chemical castration. These treatments for overcoming sex addiction rarely have the desired effects.

The modern approach is to treat the compulsion with cognitive behavioral therapy and simultaneously treat any underlying medical condition that contributes. For instance, someone who exhibits bipolar disorder may have a sex addiction component (tied to the mania phase) and treating the mental health issue may help with overcoming sex addiction.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is useful for compulsions and cravings that come with many addictions. Overcoming sex addiction with group therapy along with specific and targeted one-on-one counseling can help people manage their behaviors and learn to deal with their lives in a more positive fashion.

One other path for overcoming sex addiction is worth mentioning. As with other types of addictions, sex addiction has some very active step-type groups. These have the advantage of low to no cost and access both in-person and by way of the Internet. They usually have excellent resources and of course, they are anonymous as well.

The bottom line is that sex is a very powerful biological urge. When it is corrupted in the service of an addiction, it's worth taking seriously -- as seriously as any other addiction.

Psych Central offers a test to see if you may be suffering from sexual addiction.

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