Like most addictions, overcoming an addiction to sex almost always requires treatment. Hypersexual disorder treatment can be very effective, but that first and most difficult step involves admitting that your behavior is a serious problem that has gotten out of control. As long as you blame others for your addiction, justify your behavior, or attempt to rationalize it in any way, treatment will probably not be beneficial.
Focus of Hypersexual Disorder Treatment
The focus of treatment is typically on four primary aspects of your addiction. These include separating you from the addictive activity, reducing and / or managing sexual urges, identifying triggers and underlying issues, and addressing the painful emotions associated with a sex addiction, which typically include shame, guilt, and feelings of unworthiness. Relapse prevention is also a crucial aspect of treatment.
Residential or inpatient treatment is often the most beneficial for sex addiction. This is because it minimizes distractions, provides a very controlled and structured environment, and gives you a break from the stressors of your day to day life so you can focus on your recovery. Unlike outpatient treatment, an inpatient or residential treatment facility will prevent exposure to a vast array of potential triggers as well as cut off opportunities to engage in the addictive behavior during your treatment.
Inpatient hypersexual disorder treatment is especially appropriate if you are a potential danger to yourself or others. It is also highly recommended if you have a serious mental health disorder or other addiction in addition to your sex addiction.
Sex addiction treatment typically involves some combination of psychotherapy, group therapy, family therapy, couples therapy, medication, and support groups or self-help groups.
Psychotherapy – This is a very important part of any type of addiction treatment. Issues that may be addressed in therapy sessions include identifying and changing negative thought patterns and limiting beliefs, dealing with internal conflict, gaining insight and self-awareness, bringing unconscious issues into conscious awareness, and looking at the connection between interpersonal issues and your addiction.
Group therapy – Group therapy involves regular sessions with a small number of other sex addicts. The sessions are led by a therapist or addiction counselor. This type of therapy can be very beneficial. Group members can support each other and learn from each other’s experiences. It is also an ideal setting for confronting the excuses, rationalizations, and denial that go hand in hand with addictive behavior.
Family and couples therapy – Addictive behavior always impacts your family and significant other. These therapy sessions provide an opportunity to address emotions, unresolved conflicts, and problematic behaviors (e.g. enabling). These sessions can help strengthen your primary support system by helping those closest to you gain a better understanding of your addiction.
Medication – Medication often plays a key role in hypersexual disorder treatment. Some medications may help reduce compulsive behaviors and obsessive thoughts. Other medications may target specific hormones associated with sex addiction or reduce accompanying symptoms such as depression or anxiety.
• Antidepressants – Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (known as SSRIs for short) are the most common type of antidepressants used to treat sexual addiction. SSRIs include medications like Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. These drugs help reduce obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. They also help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
• Anti-androgens – These drugs target the effects of androgens (a sex hormone) in males and help decrease sexual urges. They are often used to treat male pedophiles.
• Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) – This drug decreases testosterone production and helps control the obsessive thoughts associated with sexual addiction.
• Mood stabilizers – Medications in this category include lithium and Depakote. Commonly used to prevent manic episodes in individuals with bipolar disorder, they can be effective in helping to reduce intense sexual urges.
• Naltrexone – This drug is often used to treat alcoholism and opioid dependence. As an opioid agonist, it works by targeting the pleasure center in the brain associated with some types of addictive behavior.
Support groups and self-help groups
These types of groups can play an important role in sex addiction treatment. Many addicts find that regular attendance – even long after their treatment program has ended – helps keep them from relapsing. Many of these groups utilize the 12-step model.
Recovering addicts can attend groups in person or participate in online sessions. Sometimes you may have to explore a few different groups in order to find one that fits your personality and unique needs. Several well-known groups in this category include Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexual Recovery Anonymous, and Sexaholics Anonymous.
Taking the first step
It can be difficult finding the courage to seek help, especially since considerable shame is so often associated with hypersexual disorders and sex addiction. Unfortunately, some sex addicts don’t seek treatment until they hit rock bottom, are convicted of a sex offense, or a spouse or family member gives them an ultimatum. If you suspect you have an addiction to sex, don’t put off getting into sex addiction treatment. You deserve a happy, fulfilling life that is no longer controlled by your addiction.