Treatment for Sexual Addiction

By Michael Herkov, Ph.D

12-Step Programs

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.

Explore More About Sexual Addiction

Mark S. Gold, M.D., and Drew W. Edwards, M.S. contributed to this article.

 

APA Reference
Herkov, M. (2006). Treatment for Sexual Addiction. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/treatment-for-sexual-addiction/000752
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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.