Advertisement

What kinds of treatment are available for sex addiction?

Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

Twelve-step programs, such as Sexaholics Anonymous, apply principles similar to those used in other addiction programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. However, unlike AA, where the goal is complete abstinence from all alcohol, SA pursues abstinence only from compulsive, destructive sexual behavior. By admitting powerlessness over their addictions, seeking the help of God or a higher power, following the required steps, seeking a sponsor and regularly attending meetings, many addicts have been able to regain intimacy in their personal relationships.

Cognitive-Behavior Therapy

This approach looks at what triggers and reinforces actions related to sexual addiction and looks for methods of short-circuiting the process. Treatment approaches include teaching addicts to stop sexual thoughts by thinking about something else; substituting sexual behavior with some other behavior, such as exercising or working out; and preventing the relapse of addictive behavior.

Interpersonal Therapy

People addicted to sex often have significant emotional baggage from their early lives. Traditional “talk therapy” can be helpful in increasing self-control and in treating related mood disorders and effects of past trauma.

Group Therapy

Group therapy typically consists of a health care professional working with a group of between six and10 patients. Working with other addicts allows you to see that your problem is not unique. It also enables you to learn about what works and what doesn’t from others’ experiences, and draw on others’ strengths and hopes. A group format is ideal for confronting the denial and rationalizations common among addicts. Such confrontation from other addicts is powerful not only for the addict being confronted, but also for the person doing the confronting, who learns how personal denial and rationalization sustained addiction.

Medication

Recent research suggests that antidepressants may be useful in treating sexual addiction. In addition to treating mood symptoms common among sex addicts, these medications may have some benefit in reducing sexual obsessions. In some cases, medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder may help decrease the compulsive aspects of sex addiction. Drugs that lower libido, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants, are also sometimes used to treat sex addiction and are prescribed by a psychiatrist.

Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD
Psychiatry
Since there are many different psychological reasons that may drive some guys to establish this pattern of behavior, and because the acting-out behaviors themselves can vary from guy to guy, a combination of therapy and behavioral interventions is usually the best.

Therapy Solo or couples therapists who specialize in treating sex addiction can help both you and your partner learn healthier ways to deal with the problem. They may explore underlying desires as well as what a guy feels he is gaining from the behavior.

Support groups Group therapy or 12-step programs like Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sexual Compulsives Anonymous allow him to offer and receive support from fellow sex addicts. This also addresses the behavior directly, usually working with a behavioral plan.

Medications In some cases, medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder may help decrease the compulsive aspects of sex addiction. Drugs that lower libido, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants, are also sometimes used to treat sex addiction and are prescribed by a psychiatrist.
Dr. Mike Dow, PsyD
Addiction Medicine
Watch as Dr. Mike Dow discusses the various treatment options available for sex addiction. 

Joe Kort
Joe Kort on behalf of Good In Bed
Psychology
Lengthy (and costly) in-patient rehab programs are not the only option. There also are weeklong programs, as well as therapy with a professional experienced in this area. Seek out a solo or couples therapist, and consider group therapy.

Continue Learning about Substance Abuse and Addiction

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.