Sex addiction

Roadblocks to a Healthy Sex Life- 2

We're continuing our discussion today on all the different things that can interfere in a couple's sex life. Yesterday Teri discussed not feeling emotionally safe, feeling too tired/being too busy, and body image.  Today we're going to discuss 2 other areas that can create roadblocks. Sex Addiction/Fantasy- If one person in the relationship is struggling with a sexual addiction, this can create a roadblock in the relationship. The same is true for engaging in sexual fantasies frequently. How can sexual addiction interfere in someone's sex life? A number of different things can happen. First of all, when a person is thinking about their addiction, the brain releases chemicals (serotonin, adrenaline, epinephrine) & you experience a "high" feeling. Hence, becoming addicted. In a relationship, this can increase the need for sex with a partner, in which they may or may not be agreeable. Or, it will take more of the addiction in order to meet the same desired effect. Therefore, pornography, prostitutes, strip-clubs, etc... may become part of the addiction as well. Finding help for sexual addiction is widespread with 12-step groups & available therapists to help.

Physical Health- Unfortunately many people suffer from physical pain that limits them sexually. Whether it's from a car/job accident or physical illness, suffering from physical pain can make it hard to be intimate in the bedroom. Making sure you discuss this with your partner & talk to your doctor about the best possible treatment can help. At the same time many medication side effects affect libido/sex drive in men and women. Talk to your doctor before starting a medication to see if there is similar drug on the market that does not have these side effects....they are out there! Lastly, some low sex drives can be linked to out-of-whack hormone levels. Check with your doctor to make sure all hormone levels are balanced and good to go.

As always, thanks for reading. We do appreciate your visit!

Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

Types of Sex Addicts: Part 2

Unfortunately there can be alot of confusion surrounding sex addiction in today's society and culture. We hope our blog this week helps clarify and explain the different types of sexual addicts and sexual addictive behaviors. Yesterday Teri discussed sexual addictive behaviors that are more "socially forgivable". Today we're entering into the area of behaviors that are less understood. This information is taken from a conference Teri and Tamara attended on sexual addiction by Maureen Canning. The Less Understood Behaviors:

Exhibitionistic Sex-This is when a person flashes sexual body parts in public, generally by wearing clothes that are designed to expose. This can also include posing for pornographic pictures or movies, walking around nude or having sex when you know people can see. This particular addiction does not allow a genuine love connection because the excitement for this addict comes from the reaction from others (shock or disapproval) rather than from the sexual contact with a partner.

Anonymous Sex- This is exactly what it sounds like....sex with people who have never met before. Sex with strangers who meet in various places: bars, conferences, hotels, planes, anywhere. These types of addicts generally do not realize the danger or risk involved in their behavior; the risk for disease, pregnancy, getting caught, or arrested. The arousal for the addict is sex with a stranger, therefore making it impossible to develop genuine feelings of love.

Exploitive Sex- This is exploitation of the vulnerable. With this addiction form, the addict forces a person to have sexual contact with them. This can include rape and molestation, or demanding sex in exchange for services. For example, a landlord giving a tenant a "break" in the rent the tenant can't pay if they agree to sexual contact with the landlord. Again, there is no possibility for genuine love to be created because someone is being violated.

As you can start to see with sexual addiction, it is hard to create real genuine love when "acting out" in the addiction. Each of these different types of sexual addictions make it impossible to connect with someone. Please keep reading as Natalie and Joleen will discuss more types of sexual addictions, and at the end of the week, Joleen will share several recovery resources and books.

Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

How to Recover from Sexual Addiction

Teri did a great job yesterday explaining sexual addiction. There's not one exact definition of sexual addiction, or any addiction for that matter. If you believe you are suffering from or struggling with sexual addiction, here are some tips on how to get into recovery. Please keep in mind that not all of these tips work for everyone, but these tips have been found to be highly successful in the groups of men and women who reach out and use them.

  •  Join a 12-step group. There's alot of healing that can come from being around a group of people who understand what you're struggling with, who understand your emotions, and who have " been there". 12-step groups provide an enormous amount of support, encouragement and a place to talk about your struggles.
  • Get into therapy. We encourage people struggling with sexual addiction to do both 12-step groups and therapy as well. A 12-step group can help you stay "clean" and give you support in a group setting. Therapy can give you the one-on-one attention you need, help you dig deeper to sort out all the emotions involved & give more insight into what fuels the addiction.
  • Read books. There's only so many meetings and therapy sessions you can attend in a week. That leaves alot of time to yourself...use it wisely. Two books we highly recommend are Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes, and Every Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn.
  • Get a Sponsor. People who are serious about their recovery find someone who's had several years of sobriety/clean-time under their belt to lead them. Talk to them daily at first. They challenge you and hold you responsible for your own actions and thoughts. They are your personal reality checks.
  • Get rid of your triggers. If you liked watching pornographic movies, get rid of them. If you visited strip clubs, quit going - and tell the people you went with that you're in recovery and not to ask you to go anymore. If you watch internet porn, put computer software on your computer that blocks the sites. There are several FREE computer software programs available out there. We're sure you can find one that suits your needs.
  • Change your routine. If you watch TV shows that bare too much skin, or movies that do the same, consider removing them from your evening entertainment. Also, if your drive home from work, the grocery store, etc.., happens to go by places where you act out, change your route. Drive a different way to/from work or home. Changing it up decreases the likelihood or chances of acting out.
  • Re-evaluate the family environment. We've found that some families struggling with sexual addiction have pretty poor boundaries within the household. Evaluate these areas in your home: Do family members walk around in their underwear? Does the bathroom door stay open or closed when in use? Are there sexual jokes shared or sexual comments made frequently? Make sure everyone is appropriately dressed when lounging around the house, and all doors are appropriately closed when using the facilities. Also, remember that whatever sexual talk is allowed also determines what behaviors you are indicating is allowed as well.

These above tips are just a short list of things to begin, but a good starting point. For the rest of the week, we're going to cover how to have healthy sexual intimacy after a sex addiction. Please re-visit our blog to get this very important information. Thanks for reading!

Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

What is Sexual Addiction?

Sex addiction is a common buzz phrase these days. It can have a horrible impact on a person, marriage, and family. Because of this Imagine Hope is going to dig in this week to sex addiction. We hope you find this info helpful as we cover what sex addiction is, how to recover from it, and how to have healthy intimacy after a sex addiction. What is Sex Addiction?

Dr. Patrick Carnes defines sex addiction as “any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment.” Behaviors can include “compulsive masturbation, compulsive heterosexual and homosexual relationships, pornography, prostitution, exhibitionism, voyeurism, indecent phone calls, child molesting, incest, rape and violence.”

When you look at the spectrum of these behaviors it is easy for many to say “I’m not a sex addict. I’ve never physically hurt anyone. I only look at porn.” However, if the addict engages in sexual activities in a secretive, compulsive way, then “just looking at porn” could fall into a sex addiction category.

Sex addiction is a serious issue and can cause you to lose people and things you hold dear. Remember that sex addiction usually starts smaller and grows into a bigger issue. If you find yourself rationalizing behaviors that might seem like a “borderline” sex addiction, it’s a good idea to get help now before it grows into something else.

The following are questions from Sex Addicts Anonymous’ website to help people identify if they are a sex addict. If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, Imagine Hope can help you look at what steps you need to take to be free from this addiction.

  1. Do you keep secrets about your sexual behavior or romantic fantasies from those important to you? Do you lead a double life?
  2. Have your desires driven you to have sex in places or with people you would not normally choose?
  3. Do you need greater variety, increased frequency, or more extreme sexual activities to achieve the same level of excitement or relief?
  4. Does your use of pornography occupy large amounts of time and/or jeopardize your significant relationships or employment?
  5. Do your relationships become distorted with sexual preoccupation? Does each new relationship have the same destructive pattern which prompted you to leave the last one?
  6. Do you frequently want to get away from a partner after having sex? Do you feel remorse, shame, or guilt after a sexual encounter?
  7. Have your sexual practices caused you legal problems? Could your sexual practices cause you legal problems?
  8. Does your pursuit of sex or sexual fantasy conflict with your moral standards or interfere with your personal spiritual journey?
  9. Do your sexual activities involve coercion, violence, or the threat of disease?
  10. Has your sexual behavior or pursuit of sexual relationships ever left you feeling hopeless, alienated from others, or suicidal?
  11. Does your preoccupation with sexual fantasies cause problems in any area of your life – even when you do not act out your fantasies?
  12. Do you compulsively avoid sexual activity due to fear of sex or intimacy? Does your sexual avoidance consume you mentally?

If you answered yes to any of these, it’s time to get help. You deserve a healthy sex life free from the grips of addiction!

Check in tomorrow as Tamara covers recovery from sex addiction! There is hope for those who are struggling!

 

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

The Masks We Wear- Addiction

As Teri mentioned earlier this week,  for Halloween we are writing about the masks we wear as adults in our everyday lives.  Some masks are made to look scary, some beautiful, and some sad, some sexy or confident.  All of the masks cover the authentic self of the person who wears them.  Yesterday Tamera did a great job when she wrote about the mask of shame.  Shame is a trickster, just like our topic today: Addictions. What is Addiction?

Addiction is simply defined as the uncontrollable compulsive need of an individual to engage in a certain activity or use a substance even in the face of negative consequences. Alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, sex addiction, compulsive overeating, workaholism, and compulsive over exercise are all examples of addiction.  Over or misuse of drugs, alcohol, work, or sex can lead to the brain disease addiction when combined with a family history and continued abuse.  In the end, addiction is a barrier, or wall we put up to cope with, cover, or quiet, defend, or protect our authentic self.  Over the course of addiction, one becomes distant from his or her authentic self without knowing it.   The addict identity has been cemented to the individual’s self concept with shame and reinforced by regret.

How Do We Wear a Mask of Addiction?

"Without wearing any mask we are conscious of, we have a special face for each friend.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes.

We wear masks for two main reasons.  The first is to protect ourselves, and the second is to protect others.  In the first case, we wear masks to hide our true identity, our wishes, our dreams, our desires, or lack thereof from others.  We feel that we are not “ok” the way we truly are.  We use these masks to pretend we are someone we are not to avoid pain or rejection from others.  Addicts use drinking or drug of choice to help keep people away from their true selves.  No one can ever truly get to know you if you only show them your altered self.  Your spouse cannot love the real you, or reject the authentic you when you wear your mask of addiction.  Addictions of a sexual nature like pornography and internet relationships are masks or distractions to keep ourselves from becoming truly intimate with another human being.

Mostly the mask of addiction keeps us from discovering and being with our authentic selves.  We do not like the way we feel in crowds, so put on that mask and have a drink.  We do not like that we cannot control our thoughts, so smoke a joint.  We cannot stand to look in the mirror at our imperfect bodies, so mask it with compulsive exercise.  We do not accept the fact that with true intimacy comes vulnerability, so mask it with shallow encounters with multiple sex partners.

When we wear the mask of addiction to protect others, it is usually tied in with Codependency.  Based on flawed thinking, we want to be who others want us to be, so we use alcohol or drugs to become that person, or to wear that mask.  This mask is worn in pubic, to work, to parties, on dates, to please and cope with people you have to be with.  This mask helps alter you to meet the perceptions of others.  Unfortunately,  your coworkers, friends, spouse, peers do not see the authentic you, but who you believe they want to see.  Since addicts use "stinking thinking" to make decisions, the perceptions of what others want is likely flawed.  With this mask, you cheat yourself, and others out the experience of knowing you.

If you are struggling with addictions, please reach out for help.  Addiction is a medical condition that should be treated with professional help.  You may have an addiction, but your true authentic self is not an addict.  You are not your addiction.  You are not your mask.

Please stay tuned while Natalie and Joleen reveal more masks this Halloween week!

Written by Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT

Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT  is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapyfamily counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield

Addictions- Sex

Sex addiction became a popular topic in the media as stories of Tiger Woods' situation continue to break. But many don't really understand what makes something a sex addiction. Dr. Patrick Carnes defines sex addiction as "any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one's work environment." Behaviors can include "compulsive masturbation, compulsive heterosexual and homosexual relationships, pornography, prostitution, exhibitionism, voyeurism, indecent phone calls, child molesting, incest, rape and violence." When you look at the spectrum of these behaviors it is easy for many to say "I'm not a sex addict. I've never physically hurt anyone. I only look at porn." However, if the addict engages in sexual activities in a secretive, compulsive way, then "just looking at porn" could fall into a sex addiction category. Sex addiction is a serious issue and can cause you to loose people and things you hold dear. Remember that sex addiction usually starts smaller and grows into a bigger issue. If you find yourself rationalizing behaviors that might seem like a "borderline" sex addiction, it's a good idea to get help now before it grows into something else. The following are questions from Sex Addicts Anonymous' website to help people identify if they are a sex addict. If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, Imagine Hope can help you look at what steps you need to take to be free from this addiction.

  1. Do you keep secrets about your sexual behavior or romantic fantasies from those important to you? Do you lead a double life?
  2. Have your desires driven you to have sex in places or with people you would not normally choose?
  3. Do you need greater variety, increased frequency, or more extreme sexual activities to achieve the same level of excitement or relief?
  4. Does your use of pornography occupy large amounts of time and/or jeopardize your significant relationships or employment?
  5. Do your relationships become distorted with sexual preoccupation? Does each new relationship have the same destructive pattern which prompted you to leave the last one?
  6. Do you frequently want to get away from a partner after having sex? Do you feel remorse, shame, or guilt after a sexual encounter?
  7. Have your sexual practices caused you legal problems? Could your sexual practices cause you legal problems?
  8. Does your pursuit of sex or sexual fantasy conflict with your moral standards or interfere with your personal spiritual journey?
  9. Do your sexual activities involve coercion, violence, or the threat of disease?
  10. Has your sexual behavior or pursuit of sexual relationships ever left you feeling hopeless, alienated from others, or suicidal?
  11. Does your preoccupation with sexual fantasies cause problems in any area of your life - even when you do not act out your fantasies?
  12. Do you compulsively avoid sexual activity due to fear of sex or intimacy? Does your sexual avoidance consume you mentally?

If you answered yes to any of these, it's time to get help. You deserve a healthy sex life free from the grips of addiction!

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.  Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.