Am I A Sex Addict?

Do I Have A Problem With Sex Addiction?


Let’s break these two words down.




Whatever we become addicted to doesn’t start out as a problem.  We made a choice that at the time seemed more like a solution.  We felt comfortable, self-aware and in control.

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The issue with addiction is when the solution becomes the problem.   We realise that our choices bring consequences that weren’t meant to happen.  We might be spending too much money, avoiding friends and family, or putting our physical or mental health at risk.  But we do it anyway.


       2.  Sex


Sex between consenting adults is a worthwhile, healthy, exciting, dynamic, multi-dimensional gift that keeps on giving.  Sex addiction isn’t.



What is it and how do you know?


Sex addiction is a young field of research.  Most of it has been aimed at assessment – whether sex addiction is a ‘thing’ or not.  The reason is not to deny that it exists but to gather as much knowledge in order to work out the best course of action to take.


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But are we studying the same thing?  If you review the last 20 years of research, you will discover that best practices for sex addiction are based upon a variety of uncontrolled studies and different frameworks.  There is, however, a degree of consensus among practising clinicians that some approaches, such as psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural (CBT), acceptance and commitment (ACT) and group therapy show a reduction in symptoms over time.


So what does this tell us?


  • There is no gold standard of care
  • It impossible to determine whether researchers are reporting on the same thing
  • Sex addiction might exist on its own or it might be part of a wider behavioural pattern
  • We might be spending time trying to identify the condition itself, rather than focusing on new outcomes or behavioural change




One way of defining sex addiction is called “Pathos” and is associated with the theory and practice of Patrick Carnes, the famous writer and practitioner in the sex addiction field.  This Greek word comes from art and describes something which evokes compassion in others.  The assessment helps to work out the extent to which a potential problem has become a problem.


  1. Do you often find yourself preoccupied with thoughts of sex? (Preoccupied)
  2. Do you hide some of your sexual behaviour from others? (Ashamed)
  3. Have you ever sought help for sexual behaviour you did not like? (Treatment)
  4. Has anyone been hurt emotionally because of your sexual behaviour? (Hurt)
  5. Do you feel controlled by you sexual desire? (Out of control)
  6. When you have sex, do you feel depressed afterwards? (Sad)


By answering these questions honestly, you can work out if there is a good enough reason to get in touch with us. You don’t have to have answered ‘yes’ to all the questions to seek help.


Plenty of other Mood & Sexual Compulsivity Inventories exist.  Some are more specific than others.  Each one is best used as preparation for a discussion than as an end in itself.


Sexual Compulsivity Scale

This is a brief, readily understandable measure that is widely used for research.  Whilst initially used with gay and bisexual men, it is now used across other populations as well.


Sexual Symptom Assessment Scale (SSAS)

This is designed to measure “the current severity and frequency of sexual urges, fantasy and behaviour”.  It measures changes in addictive behaviour over time.


Sexual Addiction Outcomes in Routine Evaluation

This assessment was developed by the author and expert, Dr. Thaddeus Birchard and has been credited with demonstrable gains in well-being and reduction of addictive processes.


Cognitive and Behavioural Outcomes of Sexual Behaviour Scale

This measures the consequences of sexual addiction and looks at differences in levels of expressed worry and concern.


Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Consequences Scale

This also assesses the experience of behavioural consequences but looks at their degree rather than simply their presence or absence.


What does having sex addiction mean?

Addressing sex addiction is about finding ways to stay stopped.  It is also about creating a formulation.  What set this up?  What is it replacing?  How can you create a new way of thinking and acting that has less sensitivity and more specificity?


With sensitivity, you are thinking about the likelihood of your acting out and the way things trigger you to make such choices.  Specificity is thinking in more detail about these triggers and the types of outcomes that result.  A good therapist will be curious about this.  They will act like a helpful detective who is on your side.  They’ll be careful with all the details so the real picture can emerge.


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When getting help for sex addiction, the professional you work with is helping you to discover the extent to which your addiction covers a behavioural pattern.  Dr. Thaddeus Birchard describes the behavioural pattern for sex addiction as:


  • Out of control and preoccupying
  • Something you try to stop but can’t stay stopped
  • Harmful consequences result from it
  • It anaesthetises negative feeling states


That last point is the answer to why sex addiction isn’t about sex, it’s about behaviour.  Behavioural patterns  – if they have lasted a long time – can feel as familiar to us as our personality.


We might describe ourself as an “addict”.  This is because we have spent so long finding a way to cope with the intolerable – something we don’t like about ourselves, something that happened to us, or both – we have come to believe that we are what we do.


Behavioural patterns are also implied in the term “acting out”.  This isn’t something that describes bad behaviour (that’s “acting up”) but could be used to describe your behaviour when times are bad.


“Acting out” is a way to describe an addictive process.  Imagine you are an actor preparing to perform.  You repeat behaviours you have rehearsed many times before and know how to do well.  You are so well practised that it convinces other people and feels like you.   With addiction, sometimes it’s easier to pretend and let the same performance go ahead like it’s always done.


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Evidence-Based Practice


If you decide to get some help with sex addiction, it is important that you choose the right help.  You are part of the decision-making process to determine the best recovery plan and the right intervention for you.  Be sure to ask to ask our team for the right treatment option for you.





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    thumbOur advice will always be led by your needs and is free, confidential and impartial.
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    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.