Rhino1: What can a person do to help their spouse understand the addiction?
Dr. Sharp: I suggest that first of all, you educate yourself by reading some of the books written on the issue. For instance, Patrick Carnes, PhD has authored a number of good books. His original work was entitled Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction, he also wrote: Contrary to love: Helping the Sexual Addict, Don't Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction, and Sexual Anorexia: Overcoming Self-Hatred.
Once you get an understanding of the addiction, then you need to think about confronting your partner with the unhealthy behaviors that you have observed. If you find this difficult, you may want to consult with a professional. Its just as important for the partner to get support and assistance.
David: I'm sure it is very difficult on spouses and partners of addicts too, especially since fidelity is the cornerstone of most marriages. How is a spouse or partner supposed to "understand" this type of behavior?
Dr. Sharp: It's a sickness, a disease, and it usually doesn't appear out of nowhere. The disease has been growing for a long time. It may have taken a while to manifest, or your partner may have not been honest with you about past behaviors and struggles.
dreamer1: Has Dr. Sharp ever worked with a married couple where both were sex and love addicts?
Dr. Sharp: Yes. It is a fairly common scenario to have sex and love addicts partnered together. It is a little more common to see women who are sex and love addicts, versus men.
David: Here's a question from someone with Multiple Personality Disorder:
TSchmuker: I am wondering how does Dr. Sharp handles a person with Multiple Personality Disorder, that has an alter who is sexually addicted?
Dr. Sharp: I don't do much work with MPD. To date, I have not worked with an alter that was a sex addict. I would think that a therapist would need to treat that alter for the sexual addiction while attempting to continue the integrative therapy.
fm3040: What are the chances of achieving a healthy relationship with a sex addict?
Dr. Sharp: It depends on so many things. For instance, how far into recovery is the addict and how much progress has he/she made on their underlying issues.
FaPiRDaniel: Dr. Sharp, what would you say the percentage is of adult male sex addicts in America today, dealing with homosexual desire for preteen aged children?
Dr. Sharp: I don't know that we have good data available to definitely answer that question. It also depends on what and how you define desire. Many sex addicts who consider themselves heterosexual will occasionally "cross the line" in the service of their addiction. Sexual addiction covers all sexual orientations, and all homosexuals or bisexuals are not sex addicts.
Rae1: Is it odd for a co-sex addict to change her mind about the relationship and decide to leave even after the sexual addict has worked toward recovery?
Dr. Sharp: No. not at all. Often, when one person in the relationship or system starts to get recovery, the other person leaves, because they don't want to give up their co-dependence of the sex addict. If she or he can't have the sex addict the way the person used to be, he/she may look for a replacement.
David: Does that go along the same lines as "misery loves company?"
Dr. Sharp: Yes.
panzena: Do most sex addicts really change?
Dr. Sharp: I can't really answer that, because I don't know most of them. I can tell you it is possible to change. The journey is a difficult one for most people however, and there is a tendency to experience many relapses, as with other addictions, before a person commits to and stays in recovery.
LAS1027: What level of sex addiction warrants impatient treatment?
Dr. Sharp: Usually a person who has a significant loss of self control and the addiction is interfering in a major way with one or more significant parts of their lives, such as family, career, health etc.
David: Is sex addiction more or less difficult to treat than substance abuse and why?
Dr. Sharp: I would say it is at least as difficult, and at present a little more difficult. I believe that the continuing denial of our society and lack of education makes identification difficult. Identification of and/or diagnosis of the problem is the first essential step that many professionals, partners and addicts never reach.
David: Is it because they don't see having a lot of sex as a "problem" vs. drugs and alcohol?
Dr. Sharp: I believe that is part of it for many people. Our culture tends to overlook high levels of sexual activity for certain groups such as males, college students and homosexual men.
fm3040: Isn't it better to just leave the sexual addict if there is such a high rate of relapse?
Dr. Sharp: Please clarify your question. What do you mean by leave?