How do I know if I’m a sex addict?
The concept of sex or porn as an addiction is very controversial. One reason is that generally addictions are understood as a chemical dependency where there is a tolerance effect and more and more of the drug is required to get the same high. It’s debatable whether proponents of sex as an addiction have proven this is the case for sex/porn.
Another reason it is important is that the diagnosis dictates the solution. If it’s an addiction, it prescribes a certain solution: following the addiction model, 12 steps, more emphasis on stopping the manifesting sexual behavior and not as much attention on any underlying trauma or depression, necessity of sobriety rather than moderation management, and so on.
If it is not an addiction, a different remedy is in order. Treating the trauma or anxiety that is driving the person to act out compulsively is of core importance. Perhaps there is an internal moral conflict, ie the person is conflicted over whether they really want to stop the acting out. Or perhaps treating it as a type of narcissism would be helpful, ie why does the person feel entitled or justified to act out sexually in a way that might be hurting the partner?
I’m fine with calling sex/porn an addiction, but I tend to lean more towards the latter view of it expressed above.
I would define it as: when a person struggles with sexual behavior in a way that he/she is distressed by it, wants to stop and can’t despite numerous attempts, and there are serious negative consequences. I think it’s fair to call that an addiction.
Rob Terry is a therapist for clients in Utah and coach for clients outside of Utah and across the globe. He specializes in sex addiction recovery for individuals and couples. He integrates the CSAT, OCSB, and Minwalla models for individual recovery and Gottman Method, RLT, and ERCEM for couples recovery. He is betrayal trauma informed. His therapy modalities are IFS, ACT, CBT, EMDR, and Attachment Theory.