Hi, my name is Debbie and most of my adult life was spent being a sex addict. You may not believe that it’s possible to be addicted to sex. I didn’t either, especially when I was in the midst of my sexual addiction.
Some might call me a nymphomaniac which is, by definition, someone who can’t control their sexual behavior. Compulsive sexual behavior ruled my young adult years. I lost control and needed to seek help. Attending sexaholics anonymous probably saved my life from the self-destructive nature of my behaviors.
Why People Become Addicted to Porn and Sex
There are many behaviors that might define what it is to be addicted to sex. Some might be addicted to porn, some might try to gain control from it. Sex addiction could simply be the coping mechanism for past trauma.
It can happen because of various circumstances in your life. It could just be that like me, the sex addict just wanted to self-destruct due to a larger problem.
I wasn’t abused as a child and I had a healthy view of myself throughout my teen years. I guess things began to spin out of control when my father died when I was 22.
How Mourning Became Sex Addiction For Me
When my dad died, I had a hard time coping with it. I didn’t want to think about it but I couldn’t function properly. I couldn’t sleep so I started to spend all hours of the night out at bars or clubs.
Instead of mourning my dad, it became a habit to seek out men. It got to the point where the shadier the situation was, the more it turned me on. I became obsessed with lewd thoughts at first, just thinking about what was possible.
I drank a lot and when a guy paid attention to me, I would forget all the pain I was in. I began to redefine sexuality in my mind. It became more about displacing myself from a situation than being close to someone.
My Sex Addiction Took Over so Quickly
It was strange how quickly my sex addiction kicked in. The original pain I was looking to cover up was totally unrelated to problems with sex. Maybe that’s why it snuck up on me so quickly.
The sex was initially just something that made me feel better. It was normal, healthy sex. It developed into an out-of-control obsession. I fantasized more and more about sexual scenarios. Then I executed them. This is when my addiction to sex began to spiral out of control.
Sex Addiction is a Real Condition
Most people aren’t really educated on behavioral problems that become addictive. It doesn’t matter if you’re addicted to porn or sex, there is a lot of misinformation out there. We often think of addiction as heroin or drug dependency.
We can get addicted to behaviors and are unable to stop. Sex addiction is considered an obsessive compulsive behavior and is treated as an addiction. The compulsive desire to do something which took over my whole life was something I couldn’t control.
My signs and symptoms of sexual addiction were very similar to that of an alcoholic or a drug addict. In the general sense of what any addict does to get their fix, sexual addiction was no different.
I spent my moments in life figuring out how to have my next sexual encounter, having “said’ encounter, or coming down from the experience. I had feelings of guilt and confusion. I hid the fact I was addicted to sex from everyone.
AA Tools Can Be Used for Sex Addiction Too
There are signs of mental health conditions for sex addicts but they are also similar to any kind of drug or alcohol addiction. I went to Alcoholics Anonymous for my problem with alcohol around the same time I was having these sexual experiences.
I guess at the time, I really wasn’t convinced I could have a sex addiction. I didn’t think it was something that happened to people. Still, when I attended AA meetings, there was a part of me that knew these tools could also help my fixation on sex.
Signs of Sexual Addiction
I wish that I had looked at the signs of my sexual addiction sooner. There is even an online sex addict test you can do. Here are some of the signs I never looked for in myself but did exhibit many of these behaviors.
Many of them are very harmful to the person. There are behaviors that ruined relationships with my closest friends. Sex addiction causes you to define sexuality in such a skewed way that you can’t see who you’re hurting.
Trying to have sex with my best friends’ husband didn’t seem wrong at the time. Being addicted to sex is much like wearing blinders. All you see is the target of what you want. Sex makes a sex addict relax and feel better. It was my fix and like a heroin addict to the drug, nothing else mattered.
Common Signs for Those Addicted to Porn or Sex
Here are some of the major signs sex addicts will inhibit:
- Chronically engaging in extreme acts of lewd sex.
- Chronic masturbation and fantasizing.
- Engaging in behaviors for longer than you intended.
- Trying to stop the cycle but not being able to.
- Spending their time looking for sex or recovering from the experience.
- Resisting responsibilities to family, work, and social obligations.
- A tolerance for sexual experiences, causing the sex addict to push the envelope. This can mean riskier situations that can be extremely dangerous.
- Feelings of anxiety or feeling distressed if they aren’t able to engage in sex when they want it.
- Addiction to porn where you can’t stop watching it. You look to find lewd videos that will disturb you.
- Having multiple affairs.
- Being promiscuous.
- Having unhealthy, unsafe sex.
- Using prostitutes or being a prostitute.
- Obsessively dating through personal ads to look for one-night stands.
- Unhealthy definition of sexuality. This can include a sense of detachment with no emotional or physical satisfaction.
What Drives a Sex Addict?
Hunger for sex isn’t a desire but a compulsion, much like a craving for abusive substances. I was addicted to sex but it’s really the last thing I wanted. I just wanted to get rid of the sadness, anxiety, and other feelings I perceived as weak. Sex made me feel strong and then I became dependent on it to feel like myself.
Sex addicts seek satisfaction from the trauma they don’t want to face. It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to avoid.
Dopamine Receptors Caused Dependency to the Act of Sex
Eventually the dopamine receptors (the pleasure-reward system) become activated by the sexual escapades. This can cause a dependency which creates a drive to constantly look out for the next opportunity.
The more the sex craving is fulfilled, the more the sex addict wants. It is biological and psychological addiction.
How Sex Addiction Became So Debilitating
I was obsessed with the thought of having sex and my sex drive was always getting in the way of interactions. I had to keep changing jobs because my behavior was so erratic. I made people uncomfortable with my sexual advances. There were also a lot of days where I didn’t show up for work because I was up all night.
Getting the sex that I was addicted to caused me to behave so poorly that nobody wanted to know me anymore. My life was dominated by thoughts of sex and nothing else really mattered.
I Got Tired of Sex Addiction Leading My Life
I was good at covering up and good at rationalizing but in the end, I became exhausted of the lies and the shame. I knew that I had a big problem and that what I was doing was wrong.
As part of the sex addict symptoms, it’s common not to worry about protecting yourself against STI/ STD’s. I contracted gonorrhea and the doctor began questioning me about my sex life.
I suspect it was a sex addict test because I began to feel like the questions were geared towards all my behaviors. The doctor referred me to seek treatment, which included sexaholic’s anonymous meetings.
How IOP Helped me Recover from Sex Addiction
When I hit rock bottom, I got treatment for my sex addiction. Going through an outpatient treatment program was my first step. The criteria is similar to recovering from drug or alcohol addiction.
Behavioral therapy opened up to my eyes to the underlying problems that caused me to be a sex addict in the first place.
Also, I took antidepressants to help me cope with the rising emotions once I was no longer using sex as a Band-Aid. Scientists believe that sex addiction might have something to do with disconnection in the brain that can be managed through use of antidepressants.
How SAA Helped me Recover from Sex Addiction
Often, the first time you attend SAA groups, they’ll give you a sex addict test. This helps them figure out whether you are likely to be a sex addict.
I learned through Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) that as a sex addict, I was constantly rationalizing that what I was doing was fine. I had a healthy appetite for sex was what I told myself. I made excuses as to why I made bad sexual choices. It made sense at me at the time because I was so young.
I couldn’t see the hidden problem, which was that I was hiding my hurt. I focused on the pleasure of getting what I wanted. There are still things that I don’t remember. I’m doing therapy with loved ones and they have started to tell me what I did at my worst times. I can’t believe that those were things I did, to people I really cared about.
Sexaholics anonymous and the initial help I received at the IOP helped me heal. I came to terms with the sex addiction I had. I learned how to manage it and started rebuilding relationships. Years have passed and today, I have a healthy relationship with someone I love.