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The Nature of Sex Addiction

Below is a simple outline of how addiction gets started and what is needed for recovery. It is simplistic, but nevertheless useful.



From early on in life...years of it due to abuse, a dysfunctional home, or some form of trauma


Panic that results from trying to stop the pain unsuccessfully. It eventually permeates ones being.


  • Makes one anxious, agitated
  • Produces a constant intense rock music...even if far in the background


Desire for a quick fix


  • Person feels like they are always in a hurry
  • There develops a desperate need to control feelings
  • Low frustration tolerance


A need to medicate the anxiety and pain with something that is...


  • Fast acting - yes! Any panacea that one becomes addicted to usually acts rapidly
  • Effective - yes! (at first)

    It produces a state of being that is stimulating, numbing, or fantasy-like, and one becomes addicted to this state of being. However , the "best" highs get less and less over time, and it takes more and more panacea to get the high.

    This is called "tolerance." And if you stop using the panacea there is a penalty to pay which also increases over time, an event that is known as "withdrawal."

    Eventually the panacea doesn't so much produce a high as simply stave off the ever-increasing withdrawal. Also, one will have to choose between dangerous levels of the panacea or a very painful (and sometimes dangerous) withdrawal.

    Because sex addiction is not directly a chemical addiction the two phenomena or tolerance and withdrawal may not be experienced as clearly as in directly chemical addictions. However, they are there and will be experienced over time.
  • Long lasting -- no, short acting

In summary, people use the panacea (1) because the high feels good , (2) to medicate away pain and anxiety , and (3) to avoid withdrawal.


Note, most medications for anxiety (and pain) prescribed by physicians are it is not surprising that behaviors used to medicate anxiety are addictive.


The nature of recovery

Recovery, like addiction, is difficult to understand. The following is a brief overview of what is needed.



  • Stopping the medication by abstaining from the panacea
  • Being able to "sit with" (tolerate) the anxiety, boredom and emptiness that follows--seeing it as a place where you will eventually experience some of your most important recovery


  • Addressing major past events that have caused such high levels of depression and anxiety
  • Repairing one's ability to make attachments to others. Cultivating the skills and mental outlook associated with genuine intimacy...learning to look for multiple attachments with a variety of individuals and groups rather than a series of "all or nothing," "fix it all" impersonal sexual experiences.


  • Learning to function without highs and without medicating anxiety
  • Serenity