857 Turnpike Street, Suite 136
North Andover, MA 01845

Sex Addiction

Recent research has yielded new insights regarding the prevalence and neurobiology of sexual addiction. One of the most interesting and useful findings is that there is generally a mood disorder (i.e. depression, dysthymia, bi-polar, etc.) underlying the behavior. Unlike most of the population, persons suffering from sexual addiction become more sexually active when depressed. The implications for treatment are obvious: treating the underlying mood disorder will help in treating the sexual addiction. The Internet provides numerous opportunities to "feed" sexual addiction. Cybersex and pornographic websites provide addicts with a quick "fix" devoid of emotional connection and intimacy. Typically, these quick fixes become boring; leading the addict to search for more stimulating (and extreme) pornographic materials, risky encounters, etc., while further disconnecting the addict from truly intimate relationships. In extreme cases, the addict will risk loss of family relationships, sexually transmitted and/or legal consequences as a result of their behaviors.

Psychotherapy for sexual addiction involves a Cognitive-Behavioral Relapse Prevention Model similar to treatment modes for other addictions. This model involves looking at "triggers" for behaviors and mapping out alternative behavioral responses. Underlying factors, such as a possible mood disorder or history of sexual trauma, are also addressed. While group therapy utilizing the above model is most effective, individual therapy is useful as an adjunct or when group treatment is not available.

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