Our sex-positive approach to sexual addiction recovery is designed to inspire you, your partner, & family to develop emotional, physical, spiritual, & erotic intelligence while overcoming sex addiction, trauma, & multiple addictions. At SHAW Center for Healing in Austin, Texas - Recovery is possible!
Are you a sex addict? Our sex-positive approach to sexual addiction recovery is designed to inspire you, your partner, & family to develop emotional, physical, spiritual, & erotic intelligence while overcoming sex addiction, trauma, & multiple addictions.
What is Sex Addiction?
According to leading expert Robert Weiss, LCSW CSAT-S, sexual addiction, also known as “sexual compulsion,” “hypersexuality,” and “hypersexual disorder,” is a dysfunctional preoccupation with sex, often involving the obsessive pursuit of non-intimate sexual encounters (affairs, casual sex, anonymous sex, prostitutes, pornography, compulsive masturbation, and the like). This pattern of urges, fantasies, and behaviors continues for a period of at least six months, despite the following:
Am I a Sex Addict?
For immediate screening, click here to access the PATHOS, our highly reliable, quick, and confidential online screening tool or contact us today for a free 15-minute consultation.
Is Sex Addiction a Disease?
"There is ample scientific evidence and support for sex as well as other behaviors to be accepted as addiction... Decades of research and developments in the field of addiction medicine and neuroscience reveal the underlying brain mechanisms involved in addiction. Scientists have identified common pathways affected by addictive behavior as well as differences between the brains of addicted and non-addicted individuals, revealing common elements of addiction, regardless of the substance or behavior" (B. Phillips et al. 2015). Article Review and link to Full-Text pdf: Sex Addiction as a Disease: Evidence for Assessment, Diagnosis, and Response to Critics (2015).
How Does It Happen?
Like drugs of abuse, addictive sexual fantasies and behaviors trigger a hormonal release resulting in feelings of pleasure, excitement, control, and distraction. This fantasy-induced neurochemical quagmire is a combination of dopamine (pleasure), adrenaline (anxiety, fear), oxytocin (love, jealousy), serotonin (mood stability), and endorphins (mild euphoria). Individuals who struggle with underlying emotional or psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, attachment deficit disorders, and early-life or profound adult emotional trauma can unconsciously learn to abuse this neurochemical response, via sexual fantasy and behavior, as a means of coping with stressors and momentarily masking emotional pain. Repeated abuse of pleasurable fantasies and behaviors in this way eventually teaches the brain that the way to feel better (or cope) is to engage in more and more of the same activity. Over time, the brain becomes hardwired for sexual addiction.
In short, sex addicts get hooked on the dissociative euphoria produced by their intense sexual fantasy life and its related ritualistic patterns of behavior. They typically find as much excitement and escape in fantasizing about and searching for their next sexual encounter as in the sex act itself. They can spend hours, sometimes even days, in this elevated state—high on the goal/idea of having sex—without any physical contact and without engaging in any concrete sexual act… yet.
What Sexual Addiction is NOT
The diagnosis of sexual addiction is not necessarily made if an individual engages in fetishistic or paraphilic sexual arousal/behavior (such as cross-dressing, sadomasochism, etc.). Such behaviors may lead people to keep sexual secrets, to feel shame or distress, and even to feel out of control, but these activities are not considered sexual addiction, per se. Nor are unwanted gay or bisexual arousal patterns/behavior. Sexual addiction is not in any way defined by what or who an individual finds arousing. Instead, it is defined by repetitive patterns of sexual behavior utilized to self-medicate and/or stabilize emotional distress. Sex addiction is also not automatically diagnosed in people who have active mania (due to bipolar or some other disorder) or in people who are actively abusing drugs or alcohol, as these other emotional and addictive challenges must first be ruled out.
What is it Like to Be a Sex Addict?
Sex addicts experience a self-induced neurochemical high when fantasizing about and preparing to act out sexually. This overwhelming neurochemical intensity is self-described by sex addicts as being in “the bubble” or “the trance.” This self-sustaining and self-perpetuating emotional experience is often more the addict’s focus than the sexual act itself. In other words, sex addicts create and use a neurochemical high to detach and dissociate from depression, anxiety, and other life stressors. They learn to control and abuse their own neurochemistry in the same way that alcoholics and drug addicts learn to abuse alcohol, heroin, and cocaine.
For the sex addict, sexual acting out takes place regardless of outward success, intelligence, physical attractiveness, and existing intimate relationships. Very often sex addicts, feeling shameful or fearful about past behavior, will tell themselves, “This is the last time that I am going to…,” yet ultimately they are compelled to return to the same or a similar sexual situation. This is their loss of control. Their sexual activities can frequently go against preexisting values and beliefs (relationship fidelity, safe sex, not hurting others, etc.). As such, most sex addicts find themselves leading a shame-based and secretive double-life, keeping their sexual acting out hidden from family and friends, and separating it from work and day-to-day life.
Recovery IS possible - Our Programs & Services
For immediate screening, click here to access the PATHOS, our highly reliable, quick, and confidential online screening tool or contact us today (512)-827-8842 for a free 15-minute consultation.
Sexual addiction recovery requires a gentle and supportive approach. Our sex-positive approach to sexual addiction recovery offers our clients and their loved ones a chance to heal from the painful effects of sexual addiction and lead lives that are rich with emotional, physical, spiritual, and erotic intelligence. Learn more.
Our program offers expert holistic assessment & testing, psychotherapy (individual, couples, group, & family), specialty programs, workshops, intensive retreats, and functional wellness & nutrition support for the recovering addict, partner/spouse, couple, and family.
Our holistic services are designed to inspire individuals to develop emotional, physical, and spiritual intelligence while overcoming compulsive/addictive behaviors. Our holistic philosophy addresses the Mind, Body, & Spirit using an eclectic blend of evidence-based treatment approaches. Our team of talented all-CSAT clinicians passionately dedicate their skills and talents to bettering the lives of those they serve and the world as a whole.
Information on this page has been graciously provided with permission from Robert Weiss, LCSW CSAT-S, author of Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men, Always Turned On: Sex Addiction in the Digital Age, and other recommended books.
Groups, Workshops, & Intensives
Expert Assessment & Testing
Am I a Sex Addict?
Articles & Blog Posts
This blog post addresses the mistaken belief that sex addiction is a "made up" diagnosis by examining the latest research.
Article: Sex Addiction is not a 'myth' when Neuroscience takes score
Leading expert Robert Weiss addresses the myths vs reality of sex addiction.
Studies and reviews demonstrating parallels between compulsive sexual behavior and the addiction model
The availability and use of pornography has become almost ubiquitous among adults and adolescents. Consumption of pornography is associated with many negative emotional, psychological, and physical health outcomes.