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Only recently have we begun to identify the huge impact that sex and pornography addiction have on people and their relationships.   Like food addiction sex is something for which total abstinence may not be an appropriate goal.  In this episode we will discuss how and why sex and /or pornography can develop into an addiction, explore interventions and identify other resources for people who are wanting to break their addiction.

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Show Notes

Define Sex Addiction
Discuss Similarities and Differences Between Drug Addiction and Sex Addiction
Explore Interventions for Sex Addiction
A person, activity or substance used to escape from negative feelings (physical or emotional) despite experiencing negative consequences
Sex Addiction
Similar to Other Addictions
Dopamine surge/High
Triggers/Conditioned Stimuli
Brain changes (Worse with younger age)
May start as recreational
Relationship, Financial, Emotional Problems

Sex Addiction
Differs from other addictions
Biologically driven urge
Eat, Sleep, Procreate  Survive
Coolidge Effect
Cannot abstain forever
“Socially sanctioned”

Needing more of the same substance to get the same high
Dopamine system self-regulating
Coolidge Effect
In response to worsening problems
Symptoms cont…
Using more or for longer than intended
Online porn sites, dating apps  Novelty
Unsuccessful efforts to cut down
Biologically driven urge for stimulation as well as procreation
Symptoms cont…
Spending significant time and/or resources (i.e. money) thinking about, preparing for, acquiring, using and/or recovering from use

Symptoms cont…
Continued use despite negative consequences in one or more areas of life due to the addiction
Emotional (Anxiety, Motivation, Depression)
Driven by survival mechanisms
Reduce pain (emotional, physical)
Safety (Eliminate threats)
Maintained by positive and negative reinforcement
Solutions: Reboot
Give your brain a rest from the rush
Take care of yourself to allow your brain to recover
Consider pharmacological interventions
Identify other things that make you (or used to make you) happy
Find activities to occupy your time
Solution: Rewire
Identify and eliminate or recondition things that trigger your cravings
People, places, things (including TV shows), emotions, times of day
Engage in competing behaviors
Identify the function of your behavior and develop alternatives.
Rewire cont…
Only allow yourself to experience sexual pleasure with a single other person in a monogamous relationship.
Understand that during the rewire, there may be a period when you cannot get aroused.
Procreation is genetically programmed, once your brain recovers, arousal will be possible again.

Solutions for Motivation
Address loss of motivation through
Goal setting
Decisional balance exercises
Remember that as the dopamine system recovers motivation will return

Mindfulness Skills
Live in the present instead of the past /future
External and Internal
Vulnerabilities and Assets
Accept without judgment
Act with Awareness / Purposeful Action
Distress Tolerance
Cope with crisis situations/urges in healthier, less self-destructive ways
Urge Surfing
Alternate activities
Less problematic (ice)
Active Distraction (Do 15)

Emotion Regulation
Manage and tolerate your emotions
Accept that sometimes your can't change them or reduce their intensity
Learn what makes your negative emotions worse
Get support
See the silver lining

Interpersonal Effectiveness
Maintain healthy relationships
Act assertively
Take good care of yourself
Don’t forget about karma

Sex addiction has similarities and differences with drug addictions
The younger the brain changes occur, the greater the possibility for damage
Antidepressants can be helpful in the short-term
DBT interventions can also be extremely helpful;
As with any addiction, the reason someone started and continues needs to be addressed.
Summary cont…
Unlike other addictions, permanent abstinence from sex is not recommended, so a strong relapse prevention plan is needed.
Common triggers to many addictions including sex addiction include anxiety, boredom, depression, guilt, habit, relationship problems, shame, stress, television/media, and low self-esteem.

More Information and Resources

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