Are you or your spouse a sex addict?

by Theresa Marie Abec, FLT Columnist

Are you or your spouse a sex addict? By Theresa Marie Abec, FLT Columnist

So now that I have your attention, I want to share with you the realities of addiction to sex. There is a “normal” enjoyment of sex and then there is a sex “addiction.” An addiction to sex hurts relationships and marriages if left untreated. An addiction occurs when an individual no longer has control over sex and it creates problems in their life that affect them negatively.

We live in hypersexual culture where sex and sexual images are unavoidable. Sex was created to be a good thing to bond spouses “relational sex.” But sometimes due to culture, trauma, porn etc., sex becomes “object sex.” Object sex leads to depersonalization which I believe creates a disconnect in your marriage.

We all have a pleasure reward system in our brains that is located in our prefrontal cortex. When one engages in sexual activity, this reward system releases opiate-like compounds known as endorphins and enkephalins. This is totally normal and this is the way our brains were created. But, if this reward system through classical conditioning is paired and then reinforced for an excessive amount of times, an addiction can occur. Adding to this is if an individual uses these endogenous opioids to deal with psychological distress to avoid dealing with pain in life, for example a trauma, grief or loss issues.

So here are a few questions to ask: Do you or your spouse look into each other’s eyes during sexual intercourse? Is there a preoccupation with sex, affairs, hours of watching porn secretly or have you used sex to escape your problems? Do you have trouble stopping your sexual behavior when you know it is inappropriate? Do you feel your sexual behavior is normal? Do significant others complain or worry about your sexual behavior? Have you attempted to stop some parts of your sexual activity? If you answered yes to most of these questions, you may be a sex addict, and you are not alone.

As a certified Sexual Recovery Therapist through the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy (AASAT), I believe that this addiction is real and can be successfully treated.

Theresa Marie Abec is a Professional Clinical Counselor specializing in Sex Addiction Recovery through the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapists. To schedule an appointment call Serenity Health & Wellness Center at 419-891-2181.