Everyone has certain habits we engage in as temporary distractions from sadness, frustration, or worry. In moderation, of course, these coping mechanisms are not unhealthy and may help us get through unusually difficult days. These processes, e.g. binge watching Criminal Minds here or there, or substances, 1 – 2 cups of coffee to get us going daily, are not likely to cause us any real or significant consequences.
But for some people, certain activities, notably sex, and the need for love and certain relationship confirmations — can grow into addiction. If you are engaging in sex, love or relationships in a way that feels out of control, against your own desire or values, and/or in a way that causes more distress than happiness, you may have sex or love addiction. You might notice that activities related to sex, love and relationships produce a kind of “high” or a calming and numbing against uncomfortable emotions.
You may notice that other activities and people outside of your romantic life become less important and neglected. Your work or school life may suffer or at least decrease in efficacy or quality.
Process addictions work like addiction to drugs and alcohol, altering brain chemistry to give you a kind of emotional high. You feel better, maybe even better than good. You want more of that feeling, and so the activity starts to demand more of your time and attention.
It is important to note that sex addiction is NOT simply interest in or engagement in alternative types of sex, e.g. Polyamory or Kink. Alternative sexual or romantic lifestyles, if they don’t show progression (intensity or frequency), tolerance (needing more to achieve same arousal states), withdrawal (distress when stopped) ARE NOT considered sex addiction.
What you might not know is that trying to stop a process addiction can be just as difficult as getting sober from a substance. Maybe you’ve already tried to change, and found yourself in an unexpected and uncomfortable process of withdrawal.
As an addictions specialist, I can help.
Psychotherapy for process addiction will help you understand the neuroscience underlying sex and love addiction, reduce shame and fear, provide effective treatment to decrease or stop unhealthy behaviors. Ultimately, therapy is completed when the client is well on the way to a healthy and satisfying life, including fun, playful, and affirming sex and love.
Make an appointment today. Sex and love addictive behaviors are treatable. Healthy sexual and romance is achievable.