Despite the growing popularity of the sex-positive movement, sex addiction is still very real. It is a complex problem that often comes with serious consequences and a great deal of distress. If your sexual behaviors are causing you emotional, financial, physical or social harm, it may be time to talk to a mental health professional about sex addiction.
It is estimated that 4.7 million people in the United States are affected by some form of compulsive sexual behavior. In many cases, these people do not seek treatment for sex addiction because of the stigma associated with it. It is also common for people who struggle with sex addiction to have co-occurring anxiety or mood disorders. Those co-occurring disorders can make it more difficult to overcome sex addiction.
The underlying causes of sex addiction can vary widely, but they are frequently linked to attachment-related trauma and poor self-image. These can be the result of either abuse (physical, sexual or emotional) or neglect. In addition to addressing attachment-related issues, those who struggle with sex addiction will usually need to address the trauma that triggered their sexual behavior in the first place.
A good place to start is with therapy. This can be done in various formats, including 1:1 sessions with a certified sexual addiction therapist, SLA groups and outpatient rehab. A therapist who is trained in cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you how to identify negative thoughts that lead to addictive behavior and replace them with healthy ones. Other forms of psychotherapy that may be helpful include motivational interviewing and acceptance and commitment therapy.