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Sexual Addiction, Online Conference Transcript - Spouses of Sexual Addicts

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David: I think what fm3040 is saying, if you are a spouse or partner of an addict, and there's a significant chance of relapse, why stick around for more pain?

Dr. Sharp: That is a decision that each person has to make for themselves. I can't tell you whether it is better to stay or to leave. Some of it may depend on the persons level of addiction and the seriousness/risk of their acting out behaviors. A person with a lower level of addiction who primarily fantasizes and masturbates may be more easily treated and have better prospects for the future.

David: Is that because a person who has sex with many different partners in an addictive environment has a difficult time with personal attachment?

Dr. Sharp: Yes. And the deeper you go into acting out behaviors, the farther you have to come back.

dreamer1 What do you mean the deeper you go into acting out, the farther you have to come back?

Dr. Sharp: Patrick Carnes, PhD., the acknowledged world-wide guru writes about different levels of addiction and acting out behaviors. The types of behaviors, the frequency, the legal and other consequences as well as longevity of the addiction can all influence the course of recovery. "The farther you've fallen into it, the harder it is to get out."

JamesLaws: What groups or organizations are available to people with sexual addictions?

Dr. Sharp: There are several. Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sex and Love Addictions Anonymous, co-Sex Addicts Anonymous. Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, to name a few.

David: James, these groups are usually listed too in the local phone book or you can call your local psychological association to guide you in the right direction.

paulv54: Doctor Sharp, you mentioned the propensity for relapse in the early stages of recovery. From what I hear at meetings, this is true. However, this should not deter the addict from participating fully in a recovery program, working the twelve steps, etcetera, should it?

Dr. Sharp: Not at all. Every relapse is not a full slide back into all of the previous behaviors. If you don't start your recovery, it will never happen for sure. Don't be put off by the possible enormity of the task. Rather, avail yourself of the many resources such as Mental health professionals, 12-step groups, in town and on-line. There is increasingly more self-help materials to supplement all of this and aid your recovery.

Rosebud: I'm a recovering addict and I want to know, is it normal to have memory lost of your childhood? I can't remember any, except for bits and pieces.

Dr. Sharp: That suggests that you experienced some abuse or trauma in your past. Most sex addicts have experienced some level of abuse or trauma as children or teens.

Deirdre: What about this scene "Dominance and submission" that I have been seeing with "humiliation". It looks like a sexual addiction in a new package?

Dr. Sharp: It often is. Sex addicts differ in their preferences or "modus operandi."

David: But Domination and other forms of "sexual play" can be covered under sexual addiction, correct?

Dr. Sharp: Yes. I would not assume that all games of dominance play are Sex Addiction. But, in contrast, it often is a symptom of people's addiction.

David: By the way, are the terms "sexual addiction" and "sexual compulsion" synonymous?

Dr. Sharp: Yes. Different people use slightly differing terms that mean basically the same thing. There is some dispute in the professional community as to whether this is an addiction or compulsion, according to guidelines placed in the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical manual. For the layperson's purpose (and most of the rest of us) they are synonymous.

MikeS: Are there any non-12 Step related recovery programs that have been effective?

Dr. Sharp: There are some religious programs that don't specifically use the 12-step approach, but very similar principles, that are having success.

David: How about approaches that don't deal with a "higher power?"

Dr. Sharp: I believe some programs such as the Masters and Johnson treatment centers may not specifically rely on 12-steps or higher power. They do a lot of work with Trauma Recovery.

David: With substance abuse addictions, there's speculation that in some people, at least they are "organically based" or a person is genetically predisposed to a substance like drugs or alcohol. I'm assuming that isn't so with sex addiction, that it's more of a psychological issue. Is that true?

Dr. Sharp: Again, we do not have sufficient scientific evidence to suggest one way or another. Although I doubt if there is a Sex Addiction gene, it may be fair to guess that some people are neurologically predisposed to sexual addiction.