How Does Residential Treatment for Sex Addiction Work?

Woman lying on sofa

Specialism isn’t a new or strange concept to us—in fact, it has been around for thousands of years. From the academic school of Socrates to our modern universities, training, learning and preparation are well established in our collective heritage.

Residential treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders—whilst not a first choice for many—is best considered a training ground.

Why? Because recovery from addiction is intended to prepare you for the rigors of life. Plus, isn’t it more apt to consider where you are going than dwelling on sexual addiction treatment?

Sexual Addiction Treatment

Residential treatment varies in length, but typically centers around withdrawing from sexually addictive behaviors, stabilizing withdrawal symptoms, and starting to treat the underlying concerns that led to the addiction.

Treatment is usually tailored to individuals and consists of a blend between group therapy, individual therapy, medication (if required), and generating healthy life skills.

When seeking a residential program for sex addiction and co-occurring disorders, look for one that provides flexible, responsible and specialized treatment.

Sexual addiction is often misunderstood, and good residential treatment will explore the dynamics of relationships, trauma, family and current life situation. All of these factors influence how and why we might struggle with sexual addiction.

Women in Recovery and Intimacy

Woman in treatment for sexual addiction

Weiss interestingly helps us to consider that the deep desire for intimacy can be shaped in many forms. He points to the current concern around internet addictions, and highlights what we don’t often consider: that maybe we are hyperconnected because we long for intimacy, and the phone in our hand provides a speedy, effective access point [1].

I think he over reaches, yet helps us consider that intimacy really is at the heart of our desires.

Intimacy is a core issue for many female sexual addicts. A higher percentage of female sex addicts have experienced relational abuse and trauma when compared to their male counterparts.

There is a continuing discussion in the therapeutic community about the etiology of sexual addiction in women, yet one thing that is clear is that trauma—particularly relational—needs to be addressed in recovery. Relational trauma and betrayal will rupture our ability to form intimate (both sexually and platonically) and satisfying connections with others.

If our brains and hearts are fundamentally wired for connection, then trauma that disrupts our ability to relate will correlate with pathology or struggles [2]. Rehab is the perfect opportunity to start addressing these problems both in the moment-to-moment experiences with other people, and in therapy.

Rehab—The Bigger Picture

If treatment is considered preparation, then rehab can be considered the art of practice—practice for a life without sexual addiction, yet with a rich and vibrant emotional experience of intimacy.

Man in sexual addiction treatment

While rehab is often synonymous with residential or inpatient treatment, I would encourage you to expand your definition and expect a longer process that can be rewarding and enriching.

I am not alone in this view. Professionals in the field suggest rehab is a “long-term process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improves health, wellness and quality of life [3].” What a refreshing view! This is not a short-term lock-up where you are put through the grinder to be fixed; rather, it is a journey of discovery, change and growth.

Yes it can be hard, but rehab through this lens is a much more rewarding process. Residential treatment is the beginning, and I encourage you to gather skills and resources to enact a successful rehab.

The culture has a wide acceptance of learning, growth and specialism, so let’s start drawing on this heritage in terms of personal growth and sexual addiction recovery. Whether you are aware of intimacy issues, trauma, or simply find it impossible to stop looking at porn or having sexual hookups, residential treatment might be just the launching pad you need to really live your life!


Paul LoosemoreAbout the author: Paul Loosemore, MA PLPC, author of “21 Movements Towards Life” – The step-by-step guide to recovering from sexual addiction or pornography. Paul works as a mental health counselor, and consults with those who wish to recover from Sexual Addiction—both individuals and couples. He is the founder of where you can find his guide, or contact him.


[1]: Weiss, R. (2014) Closer together, further apart; The effect of technology and the internet on parenting, work and relationships. Gentle Path Press.
[2]: Struthers, W. M. (2009). Wired for intimacy: how pornography hijacks the male brain. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books.
[3]:  Daley, D. and Douaihy, A. (2015) Relapse prevention counseling; Clinical strategies to guide addiction recovery and reduce relapse. PESI Publishing & Media.

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 July 2, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 2, 2017.
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.