“Knowing you are a sex addict doesn’t mean you are bad or perverted or hopeless. It means you may have a disease, an obsession from which many have healed.”
– Dr. Patrick Carnes
Sex Addiction Treatment
• Do you find yourself obsessing about sexual thoughts?
• Does your partner complain about your sexual behaviors?
• Have you tried to stop a sexual behavior and failed?
• Do you hide some of your sexual behaviors from family or friends?
• Have you used sex or sexual behaviors to escape uncomfortable situations or emotions?
• Do you feel you lack control over your sexual urges and behaviors?
• Do you find yourself erasing the history files on your computer to hide your sexual activity from family?
• On your way back from work, do you find yourself looking forward to your time online?
• Do you unwind from work and relax through your online sexual activity?
• Do you engage in online sexual activity at work even though you know you know you could lose your job?
If you have answered “yes” to a few of these questions, you may be dealing with porn or sex addiction.
If you have checked off only one or two items on the checklist, you still may have a problem with pornography addiction. It may be in the beginning stages. If you have checked off several of the above items, your addiction has progressed. Justifying and rationalizing your behaviors are a natural part of this process but don’t let these interfere with your getting rid of this problem. I understand what you are going through is tough. Things were not meant to be like this but what is important is that it is possible to turn them around right now.
There are those who dismiss the idea that pornography can be addictive. But in reality, Porn or sex Addiction can have very harmful and very real consequences on many important areas of your life like relationships, career, finances and health.
The first step is to acknowledge and be open to the fact that there may be a problem. It is only after we acknowledge that there may be a problem can we seek answers to the problem. Most people that I see in my office tell me that they know that their obsession with sex and pornography is out of control and it is unhealthy. They tell me that they have tried to stop, but cannot and don’t know how. They also tell me about their overwhelming feelings of shame. Until now, they have been too ashamed to ask for help. They fear that no one would understand and they would be judged and called a “pervert”. I tell them, “I’m glad you came”.
Addiction is really a maladaptive coping mechanism meant to numb you from experiencing difficult emotions. Perhaps you had a difficult day at work –your boss said something demeaning, you were passed over for a promotion, etc. You came home and told yourself that you deserved a break. Looking at pornography, gave you the means to escape from the difficult emotions you were feeling. These could be anger, embarrassment, shame, hurt or powerlessness. Whatever the feeling, you had found a way to numb it. It works well for a while until it progresses to a stage where you use it for everything. It begins to rule you and your life.
Ok, so you are ready for sex addiction treatment, but you still have some questions or concerns…
Before you reach out for help, you may still have some questions. Here are some questions/objections to counseling that people have expressed to me:
I have tried to stop, but my sexual compulsions seem to be out of my control.
The first step toward sex addiction treatment is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Just acknowledging this can be very hard. People tell me that they feel defeated, discouraged and even ashamed that they have not been able to manage their compulsions. I understand that acknowledging that you haven’t been able to manage this behavior is very hard, but this step is necessary. Now make a commitment to change. This is easier said than done. Porn or other sexual behaviors has provided you a place to escape; it has also given you lot of comfort and support through the years and the thought of quitting makes you nervous. These feelings and thoughts are natural. Most people in your situation experience them.
Also, it is important to remember that this is a phase. You will not feel this way always. However, to get through this time, you need to be gentle with yourself. Many people believe that being hard on themselves will help them stay on track and prevent them from falling back into their compulsive patterns once again. The opposite is actually true. In fact, setting realistic goals and forgiving yourself for your slips will help you make progress.
Overcoming sex addiction can often be a journey that is long and uncomfortable. At times, it may even feel impossible. But it’s not. What Sex Addiction Treatment needs is persistence. If you’re ready to work hard, be persistent and to get support, you can break the pattern of sex addiction—no matter how out of your control it feels right now.
I just need to have more discipline. I was able to do it for a while last year.
Sex addiction is a difficult and tricky problem. It is tempting to minimize and dismiss it simply as a bad habit. But if it were just that, you would have resolved it by now. It is important to be honest with yourself now. You have tried watching porn in in moderation, restricting yourself only to soft porn as opposed to hard core porn, not go on the sites before 9 pm, etc. and for a while it has worked. But before you knew, things have slipped back to where they were. It may have been a bad argument with your home, or it may have been good like about celebrating a success at work. Whatever it was, your use of porn and masturbation have increased yet again. You are annoyed and disappointed with yourself. If only you could try a little bit harder. You tell yourself that if you cared about your family and your job, you would stop and for a while you do. But soon enough those compulsive thoughts and urges takes charge again. You feel ashamed and guilty. You worry if something is intrinsically wrong with you.
The reality is that sex addiction is not a simple issue of having more discipline and will power. It is important to get the help of someone who knows and understands how this problem affects you physiologically and psychologically. For this reason, it is important to find a therapist who has been trained and is experienced in sex addiction treatment. This will give you access to effective and tested strategies that have worked for many people before you. You will have the support and guidance of someone who not only understands how hard you are trying but will also be honest and upfront with you about your blind spots.
Porn helps me deal with my anxiety. Masturbation restores my calm.
While it’s probably true that you began to use porn and masturbation to handle your anxiety, it has now turned into a relentless cycle. The fact is that your compulsive use of porn and masturbation is really a symptom of underlying issues. It helps you mask the pain, fear and disappointments that you have not even acknowledged to yourself. Until you work through these issues, you will use something to mask them: you could be drinking, shopping, or using pornography, etc.
Therapy costs too much.
Yes, It is true that therapy is expensive. But the question is, is it more expensive than losing a marriage or a career? Are you less productive at work meetings because you were up too late last night? Have you been accused of flirting inappropriately or just being too familiar with female colleagues? These are risks not just to your current job but your entire career. May be your wife is unhappy at you always watching porn rather than engaging with her sexually? Has she expressed hurt because she sees you staring or even flirting with other women? These things have huge costs in the long run. Add to it the loss of your potential and quality of life. Once you have added up these costs, do you still believe that therapy is expensive?
Feel free call me if you have other questions or to make an appointment. Or, simply make an appointment online. Its Easy! This is the next step in taking control over your sex/porn addiction.
Rochna Hazra is trained in Marriage and Family Therapy at Virginia Tech. She includes the emotional, psychological, spiritual and family aspects of a person in her work. Rochna has been trained by Dr. Pat Carnes, a pioneer in the field of Sex Addiction.
Rochna is also a Certified Advanced Relapse Prevention Specialist and trained in Sex Addiction and Mindfulness-based Therapy and Relapse Prevention.
Originally from India, she combines the Eastern traditions of mindfulness, non-judgment and a holistic approach to healing with the Western approach of realism and solution-focused action.