Is sex addiction real?

Although there has been serious debate concerning sexual addiction, medical experts have confirmed that sex addiction is real. In 2011, The American Society of Addiction Medicine concluded that all addictions are brain-based disorders and can include behaviors (sex, food, gambling) as well as, substances. We at the Colorado Sexual Recovery Center (CSRC) have treated hundreds of men, women, and couples suffering from sex addiction. Sex addiction is real and if left untreated, destroys relationships, careers, and families.

Is sex addiction curable?

As with any addiction there is no “cure,” but with the right commitment, treatment, and follow-through, sex addicts can remain in remission their entire lives. Unhealthy sexual behavior can be arrested and a normal, healthy life can resume. At CSRC we address the core of the addiction in order to eliminate any need for the destructive behavior to continue.

What do I tell my partner?

If your partner has discovered your secret life, be honest and tell him/her that you are seeking help with an expert in sexual addiction. Above all, spare him/her the details until you can process your behaviors with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist. Explain to your partner that she/he will be told the entire truth, but treatment and support need to occur first. Sex addiction produces a great deal of shame, and we know you are anxious to relieve your guilt. Telling your partner all the gory details before you are ready will cause irreparable damage to your relationship. Please call as soon as possible to stop the nightmare and begin healing.

What do I tell my kids?

Depending on the age of the child, we encourage different types of disclosure.

If your children are young, or before you tell your older children anything, first seek treatment and establish your recovery. Most likely, your kids know something is wrong and can feel the tension within the adults’ relationship. A good starting point is to tell them that Mom and Dad are having a hard time right now and are working with a doctor to get better. Assure them that the difficulty is not their fault, that you love them very much, and that everything is going to be OK. Once you begin working with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, you can formulate a solid plan to help protect your children and heal any impact they may have experienced.

I was “outed” (at work, by a friend, etc.) How do I handle it?

Being “outed” or discovered is like waking up from a bad dream, only to discover that the dream is real. The best possible way to deal with being discovered is to be honest and seek immediate help with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist. People who quickly accept the experience and seek help find a new sense of freedom. It may sound impossible, but most addicts are actually grateful something finally made them stop. At CSRC we help you diminish your shame by finding the exact reasons that brought you to your addiction. We help you realize your true value and eliminate your self-destructive behavior. Recovery begins with honesty and acceptance; once you have these, you can build the life you have always wanted.

I think my partner is a sex addict. What do I do?

If you believe your partner is an addict, you are most likely correct. Very few people question addictions unless they are seeing or feeling the evidence of an addiction. Trust your instincts; break the denial and seek help. At CSRC you can consult with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist to determine the level of your partner’s addiction and what you can do to end the pain you are experiencing. We have specific treatment options to help you confront his/her behaviors in a caring and compassionate way. Above all, get help with a therapist who is certified in Sex Addiction Therapy because most regular therapists, as well-meaning as they may be, can miss important signs and symptoms and not understand how to treat the disorder.

What is the best treatment for sex addiction?

The best possible treatment for sex addiction is multifaceted. At CSRC we base treatment on accountability and a rigorous framework of healing. All sex addiction derives from an incomplete “attachment” system and the subsequent trauma that happens from these early injuries to that emotional-bonding system. In other words, sex addicts cannot fully bond to another individual, and they subsequently seek outside sources to relieve their (often suppressed) anxiety and pain.

How long does treatment take?

The time it takes to fully recover from sex addiction depends on how deeply the addiction is rooted within the individual. The characteristics that make recovery faster are: 1) a willingness and desire to seek treatment, 2) an acceptance that there is a problem and a wish for a healthier lifestyle, and 3) the acknowledgment that recovery is a life-long process. Individuals who come for treatment at the Colorado Sexual Recovery Center usually stay involved in some type of program for 1 to 3 years. The time spent in treatment entirely depends on the addict’s desire for help and his/her commitment to recovery, plus the establishment of a solid support network outside of CSRC.

How do I stay away from porn when it is everywhere?

When stopping pornography addiction, there needs to be a sobriety plan to minimize the risk of returning to the old behavior. Early on, the addict must significantly limit his/her access to the Internet—this includes both computers and smart phones. There are an estimated 70 billion images available at the click of a mouse, so navigating the web without returning to the addiction is very challenging. There are good filters that limit access and a lot of our patients “dumb down” their phones until the compulsion has lifted. Having an accountability partner also helps to stay away from acting out and provides support.

Should my partner and I do couples or individual counseling?

Most often when partners discover the sex addiction they immediately reach out to a couples therapist to “fix” the relationship. While intuitive, the problem is that there are very few couples counselors that are trained to treat sex addiction. The addict must first have his own therapist to stop the behaviors and heal the root cause. The partner should have his/her own therapist, as well, to deal with the trauma that occurs because of the addictive behaviors. There should be at least two therapists involved when working with a couple to treat the addiction and the impact of the addiction. At the Colorado Sexual Recovery Center, the partner and the addict have individual therapists and then the two therapists come together to treat the couple.

Should my partner and I see different therapists?

Absolutely. Sex addiction is about uncovering and disclosing secrets. It would be unethical for a sex addiction counselor to treat both the addict and the partner because at some point the therapist would have to “hold” secrets until a full disclosure can be implemented. The addict and the partner should both see Certified Sex Addiction Therapists because general counselors are not trained to treat the addiction or the trauma of betrayal.

Is it important for my counselor to be in recovery from this addiction?

This is a matter of preference; however, it is unilaterally accepted that people recovering from the addiction or betrayal can provide personal insights into the nuances of sex addiction recovery. There appears to be a benefit to working with a counselor that is familiar with getting and staying sober from addiction. Sex addiction counselors that are in personal recovery “know” when a client is trying to avoid recovery or hiding certain behaviors. Our two executive staff members at Colorado Sexual Recovery Center have over 29 years of combined recovery from addiction and the betrayal of sex addiction.

Should a male work with a male counselor and a female work with a female counselor?

In most addictions it doesn’t matter; however, when dealing with sex addiction, we have found that gender-specific treatment is best. One of the leading inpatient treatment centers in the United States, The Ranch (in Tennessee), also does gender-specific treatment. Men know men and women know women. With something as personal as sex addiction, gender-specific treatment provides an extra measure of accountability, as well as limits on the possibility of intrigue and fantasy.

Can my marriage be saved?

Absolutely. When the addict fully commits to stopping the behavior and healing the underlying issues, the possibility of a healthy relationship is certainly possible. At the Colorado Sexual Recovery Center, we have a 98% success rate of couple’s healing when they follow our specific form of treatment.

Is sex addiction treatment different from regular therapy?

Yes. Sex addiction has to be treated by someone certified in the treatment of sex addiction. Without a specific certification, such as Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), treatment will not address the root causes of the addiction, which will allow it to return in full force. Many therapists say they can treat sex addiction, but unless the therapist is a CSAT, the chances of permanently arresting the addiction are dramatically reduced.  We at CSRC are not only CSATs, but we are CSAT supervisors, meaning that we also provide training to other therapists seeking certification.

Do I have to give up sex?

Sex addiction is akin to having a food addiction. The goal is not abstinence from sex, but abstinence from unhealthy sex. Generally speaking, when an addict begins treatment they are asked to refrain from all sexual behavior for a period of time to allow the brain to calm down from tremendous amounts of neurochemicals associated with sex addiction. The addict learns to slowly re-engage with his/her sexuality in a healthy way that provides intimacy and closeness, instead of escape.

Should I leave my spouse?

This all depends on the depth of his/her addiction, the willingness to seek help, and the commitment to do whatever it takes to leave the destructive behavior behind. The addict absolutely needs black and white boundaries when starting, and it is perfectly OK to set a boundary around the need for treatment. Each case is different, but the CSRC offers a free 15-minute assessment for your problem.

Are my children safe?

There is a large difference between sex addiction and sexual offending. If you have discovered child pornography on your partner’s computer, he/she has crossed a line that can have severe consequences—and indicates the need for immediate help. Most sex addicts, however, are not a physical threat to children. Instead, their being preoccupied with sexual behavior often leaves their own children in an emotional vacuum (and even emotional abandonment), which can cause severe emotional problems for their children as they mature.

My partner’s a sex addict. How will I ever trust him/her again?

I hear this more than any other question from partners. The answer is that it will take time. Our brains are designed to sense threat, so until your partner is in full recovery, trust will be impossible. The answer to this question, then, is that you can begin to trust your partner again when he/she is in recovery for him or herself—not just because you want them to be. Your partner will need to be in a program of recovery that can include weekly individual therapy, group therapy, couples counseling, and a 12-Step support group. The more he/she is involved in their own recovery, the quicker you will regain trust. At CSRC we specialize in providing a solid plan for both the addict and the partner.

What does his/her addiction mean about me?

Nothing. Sexual addiction is caused from trauma that leaves the addict unable to connect or to be authentic. In other words, the addict can tolerate short periods of intimacy, but cannot stay intimate for consistent periods of time. This on -again, off-again closeness can make you feel crazy and challenge your feelings of self-worth. You will hear this time and time again and still have trouble believing that your partner’s sexual addiction has nothing to do with you, but I will say it again—your partner’s infidelity and unhealthy sexual behavior have nothing to do with you in any way. It is not about your looks, your intelligence, your age, nothing! His/her addiction has everything to do with their own feelings of inadequacy that must be treated before there is any hope of connection or intimacy.

Does insurance cover my treatment?

Yes and no—it depends on your coverage and carrier. Sexual Addiction is not currently recognized as a mental health diagnosis in the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). This means that full-pay insurance will not cover the treatment needed. CSRC will provide you with a ‘Superbill” for all services for you to submit to your insurance company. However, we can not help you obtain preauthorization or work to help you resolve insurance issues. We are currently working with an company that will help with insurance, but we do not provide this service at this time.

Our Blog

3107 28th St, Ste. B; Boulder, CO 80301 | 6795 East Tennessee Ave, Ste. 353; Denver, CO 80224