Sexual Addiction Includes Other Addictions
When I counsel men that struggle with sexual addiction behaviors, I will also review other addictive behaviors underneath the sexual addiction. One example is that of overeating and how it can be used to minimize pain in conjunction with the sexual acting out. It is not uncommon for the person struggling with sexual addiction to stop the sexual behavior but turn to “comfort food” to numb the pain that the sexual behavior was used to numb.
Other Addictions Take Over
Now he faces shame for his negative self-image of being overweight and this can add to the pressure of relapsing. The added pounds makes them feel less desirable. Depression sets in and he continues to eat to deaden his pain. Many sex addicts report that they give up their sexual behaviors only to find that they have gained weight because they have turned to food. Patrick Carnes reports that 38 percent of sex addicts also struggle with an eating disorder.
Alcohol & Drug Abuse
The more common combination of addictions is when the sex addict abuses alcohol or drugs. The alcohol and drugs are used to lower his inhibitions to sexual acting out. I find that many of the sexual addiction clients are either currently abusing alcohol or in recovery from alcoholism or drugs. Often alcoholics discover that the treatment and recovery of one addiction doesn’t cure his sexual addictive behaviors.
There is increasing research about the interaction between sex addiction and alcoholism or drugs. Research shows that 42 percent of sex addicts have a dependency with chemical addictions. Among cocaine addicts, 50 to 70 percent have a dependency with sexual compulsions. In my treatment program, I address all potential addictions rather than simply focusing on sex addiction.
There may be several compulsive behaviors combined into the scenario of sexual addiction. These other behaviors may include shoplifting, spending, hoarding, gambling, and even video gaming. The person that struggles with workaholism may not know he has an addiction because our culture often rewards the workaholic as a committed and hard working employee. The sex addict may give, give, give to his job and then feel entitled to get, get, get from sexual addictive behaviors. “I deserve to treat myself to a sexual massage because I have worked so hard.”
Sexual Addiction & Emotional Illness
The sex addict often struggles with emotional illness: depression, bipolar disorders, suicide, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Often, my clients have received treatment for these mental illnesses while the sexual addiction is hidden or ignored. The sexual addiction simply compounds the mental health issues.
The most destructive and devastating emotional risk is suicide. Seventeen percent of sex addicts have attempted suicide and seventy-two percent have contemplated suicide. The sex addict can become so depressed and hopeless that he believes that the only way out of the double life is to take his own life.
Begin Sexual Addiction Counseling
If you are reading this article and identify with many or all of the struggles with sexual addiction, other addictions, or mental health issues; please contact me today to schedule an individual counseling session. I work hard to provide a safe, confidential, and path of healing and recovery.