Almost 12 million Americans are battling a sex addiction, according to the American Association for Family and Marriage Therapy.
Sexual addiction, or sexual dependency, refers to a phenomenon where a person finds their sexual behaviors unmanageable, obsessed with sexual thoughts to a point where it dominates their daily life and interferes with relationships.
It’s Not About Sex
Sexual addiction is actively recognized to have nothing to do with who or what turns a person on. Rather, sexual addiction is defined by compulsive behaviors with negative consequences.
Sex addiction exists, just like alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping, eating disorders and other addictive/compulsive disorders. Patients suffering from sexual addiction are entitled to well informed, empathetic and evidence-based treatments just like any other individual battling a destructive addiction or compulsion.
Sex addicts usually have a history of profound and chronic early-life trauma including neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Most often, this leads to self-medication through alcohol and/or drugs that initiates relatively early in life, usually during adolescence.
However, many people use sexual behaviors to self-medicate as well that may include sexual fantasy, masturbation or sometimes through the eroticizing and reenactment of an aspect of their trauma. This is particularly applicable to a situation where trauma was essentially sexual in nature.
Even though this may bring momentary relief, these behaviors lead to eventual exacerbation of prior feelings of shame and emotional discomfort, creating an even bigger need for emotional self-medication, escapism and isolation.
Despite being in a committed relationship, sex addicts under emotional stress may repeatedly resort to sexual pursuit and behaviors, hence, jeopardizing their relationships.
A study by Valerie Voon at Cambridge University discovered that the brains of self-reported sex addicts responded in very different ways to sexual stimuli such as porn than the brains of non-addicted people. The brain response of sex addicts was identical to the brain response of drug addicts when exposed to drug-related stimuli.
According to Dr. David Greenfield, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut, for sex addicts, sex increases the neurotransmitter Dopamine, and it’s that excess dopamine that the addict craves, rather than the physical act itself.
Since antidepressant medication and a few other psychotropic drugs have been deemed effective in the treatment of sex addiction in numerous cases, experts believe sex addiction may be linked to a biochemical abnormality or certain chemical fluctuations in the brain.
Celebrities Who Fought Sexual Addiction and Recovered
Below is an overview of a few celebrities who reportedly battled sex addiction and recovered.
David Duchovny, ironically renowned for his role as a sex-obsessed writer on the TV show ‘ Californication,’ admitted back in 2008 to being a sex addict while temporarily being separated from his wife on accounts of infidelity.
He voluntarily checked himself into a facility for the treatment of sex addiction. It is touted that he completed a 35-day program and reconciled with his wife.
It is believed that Duchovny was the first celebrity to own up to sex addiction.
The British comedian divulged details of his sex addiction in his biography “ My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Stand-up.” He admitted to spending 30 days in a US sexual addiction treatment program in an attempt to curb his “carnal overindulgences.”
John Noel, Brand’s manager, had previously put him into rehab for drug treatment. He realized his sex addiction equally threatened to destroy his career and managed to convince Brand to agree to go to the KeyStone clinic, Philadelphia.
Brand elaborated in his autobiography saying, “”We all need something to help us unwind at the end of the day. You might have a glass of wine, or a joint, or a big delicious blob of heroin… And this is what sex provides for me.”
Former sex addict who once claimed to have had sexual relations with over a thousand women, now claims he is celibate. He was reported to have replaced sex with rock climbing.
Brand concluded: “It was to rescue me from these kinds of grisly scenarios that John Noel sent me to KeyStone. And I’m glad he did.”
Renowned motorcycle mechanic and TV host Jesse James reportedly sought sexual addiction treatment after he admitted cheating on his ex-wife, Sandra Bullock.
James confessed in an ABC News interview that his treatment focused mainly on childhood physical and emotional abuse that he held his father responsible for.
Playboy model Nicole Narain sought help for sex addiction on the 2009 VH1 reality TV show Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew. She acknowledged her chronic masturbation alongside numerous sexual escapades, including the making of a sex tape with actor Colin Farrell that was leaked in 2005.
The Sports Illustrated model also participated in “Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew” in 2009, after publicly acknowledging alcohol and opiate addiction on “Celebrity Rehab.”
During these appearances, she recounted hers and her mother’s histories with addiction and co-dependency, which began when Smith was a teenager, and how her experiences with date rape and prostitution played a part in those addictions.
Treating Sex Addiction
Sexual addiction treatment typically includes motivational communication, cognitive/behavioral therapies, task-oriented approaches and psychodynamic methodologies to eradicate or at least minimize the patterns of problematic sexual behavior and a dysfunctional lifestyle. Clinical intervention is dependent on prior detailed assessments of the patients.
Once a patient enters into treatment, behavior change is prioritized to prevent any more harm and consequences. Patients usually enlist help after they have been through harmful episodes of relationship losses, problems at work or school, health issues, financial trouble or public humiliation.
About the Author:
A journalist and social media savvy content writer with wide research, print and on-air interview skills, Sana Ahmed has previously worked as staff writer for a renowned rehabilitation institute focusing on mental health and addiction recovery, a content writer for a marketing agency, an editor for a business magazine and been an on-air news broadcaster.
Sana graduated with a Bachelors in Economics and Management from London School of Economics and began a career of research and writing right after. The art of using words to educate, stir emotions, create change and provoke action is at the core of her career, as she strives to develop content and deliver news that matters.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published on April 15, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 15, 2017
Published on AddictionHope.com