Sexual Addiction Can Happen To Women Too

(Post share from the IRATAD Blog)

Often sexual addiction is automatically associated with being a man’s problem however despite popular belief women do struggle with sexual addiction. Struggling with sexual addiction is very shaming for a person and can leave them feeling disconnected and alone. Because so few women come forward about their sexual addiction and assume it is a man’s disease the shame can be even more intense.  The diagnosis criterion for sexual addiction is the same for women as it is for men.

There are several myths surrounding women and sexual addiction that perpetuate the minimization of this problem for women and increase shame.

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What Is Sexual Addiction?

Sexual addiction or dependency is a compulsive disorder that causes the inability to control ones sexual behavior that affects millions of people world-wide. A person with sexual addiction has excessive thoughts or behaviors relating to or obtaining a desired sexual effect. Those that suffer from this obsessive dependency suffer at work, with personal relationships, and other daily activities.

Some of the criterion associated with sexual addiction includes compulsive behavior resulting in adverse consequences. At first, these activities can be pleasurable. But the continued act becomes steadily compulsive until one becomes addicted. Some of these compulsive behaviors include pornography, multiple anonymous partners, repeated affairs, cyber-sex, prostitution, exhibitionism, and voyeurism to name a few.

The inability to control such sexual behaviors leads to depression, anxiety, and other emotional actions. Emotional coping is one way addicts use their addiction to experience a different way of stimulating the brain. Over time, the person becomes addicted pornography or other sexual stimulation to obtain feelings of gratification. But with that, other related issues like abandonment, fear, shame, or guilt are also linked to sexual addiction. Addicts can’t voluntarily disengage from sexual behavior, ending in consequences that disrupt the normal function of a person.

It’s important to recognize the complications that sexual addiction can impart on a person despite the negative consequences. Just like other addictions, these types of sexual behaviors seem to continue despite the effort to stop. Acting out sexually is usually a way to medicate or manage stress, pain, or even substitute for true intimacy. Some signs of sexual addiction include:


These types of compulsive behaviors derive from mismanaged emotions which can later end in sexual compulsivity. Most often people don’t realize that there is treatment to manage their addiction, continuing to struggle no matter what the cost.

"I’m ok": How being mindful and compassionate helps to overcome shame and unworthiness

(Post share from the IRATAD Blog)

What keeps many of us from being healthy psychologically, socially, spiritually, and even physically, is a profound sense that we are not ok, that we are flawed and broken in some way, that we are different than others. When things go wrong, it isn’t that we have problems, it’s that we are a problem, we don’t make mistakes, we are a mistake. This feeling of profound unworthiness is often rooted in childhood experiences, and is perpetuated by our western culture that places great value on outward appearances and material wealth which in turn breeds separation and shame. We are constantly bombarded with messages that we cannot be content, that we need to have more, to do more, to be more.

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How Do I Know If I Have an Addiction to Pornography or Other Sexual Behaviors?

For most of us it’s difficult to admit we have an addiction. Our natural tendency is to push off the obvious signs and evidence that occur with compulsive behaviors. Often times, someone that develops an addiction to pornography or other sexual behaviors suffer with the unfortunate loss of loved ones, falls into financial woes, and then unintentionally develops uncharacteristic mood swings that eventually severs them from their normal activities.

If you feel that you have an addiction to pornography or other sexual behaviors, these are some signs to watch for:

If you relate to three or more behaviors listed in the above criteria, it is important to seek treatment. Pornography and sexual behaviors can be clearly defined as psychological or emotional addiction. Dependencies for these compulsive behaviors grow uncontrollable and quickly become detrimental to an individual’s life.

Getting to the root of sexual and porn addiction comes from years of study from Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in sexual addiction research and the treatment for it. He explains that an addiction to pornography contains four core beliefs. These are the results of most sexual addicts:

  1. I am basically a bad, unworthy person.
  2. No one would love me as I am.
  3. My needs are never going to be met if I have to depend on others.
  4. Sex is my most important need.

Dr. Carnes further explains that most addictions to sex or pornography start in childhood due to the lack of human care. Sexual addiction becomes confused with basic comforting and nurturing development and the subject will continue engaging in this negative behavior until it has grown into an addiction. As a result, they soon learn to depend on these feelings and develop compulsive sexual behaviors, acting on sexual impulses without regard to the consequences they create.

As more time passes, the person may develop other forms of sexual addiction. Some of those lead to substance abuse, dominance, control, or the abuse of a partner. Sexual activities can vary in a wide range‒ from very limited sexual activity all the way to a collection of sexual paraphernalia and encounters that includes high levels of fantasy.

Shame and secrecy most often accompanies the sex addict. These addictions cannot foster healthy relationships and have negative consequences. The ability to enjoy sex becomes impossible as the typical addict appears to have no control over these impulses. A sexual appetite grows exponentially until they will let nothing stand in the way of their sexual needs being fulfilled.

Like any compulsive behavior left untreated, it will continue to grow out of control. For those who feel like they have imprisoned their emotional power towards sexual behaviors, finding treatment to renew inner-beliefs and strengthen one’s ability to address the problem is just one step away.

Willpower and Change

(Post share from the IRATAD Blog)

Many times individuals who struggle with addiction have attempted to quit many times and have spent much of their energy criticizing themselves for not being "strong enough" or "disciplined enough". This is a very unhealthy loop and can lead to hopelessness, despair, and shame.  I recently read the book entitled "The Happiness Advantage" by Shawn Achor. Shawn Achor is a positive psychologist and his goal in life is to help people learn to be more positive and happy and in turn become more productive in their lives.   One of the priciples he discusses is willpower and why in the face of  great desire to change it is not enough to actually help us change.

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