Sex Addiction: Driven by Technology

There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.

Renowned sex addiction therapist Robert Weiss says he initially noticed tech-related sexual issues in the early 1990s, when online bulletin boards and porn sites first hit the web. Prior to that, his clients were mostly hooked on real world sexuality – serial affairs, prostitutes, sex clubs and adult movie theaters, plus the occasional guy hooked on phone sex. Then, when home computers and ubiquitous Internet connections came along, Weiss says his clients were suddenly and primarily engaging in tech-driven sexuality. And this tech-sex trend continues unabated today, with digital era sex addicts hooked on digital pornography, virtual sex games, webcam sex, hookup apps, teledildonics, and whatever else R&D departments can dream up. As such, we must set and maintain healthy boundaries around our use of technology.

Just for Today
Identify the ways in which technology is part of your sexual addiction.

Developing Empathy for Your Partner

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Beautiful relationships do not just happen.

As sex addicts, we tend to hurt the people we love. The single biggest step we can take toward repairing our broken relationships involves empathy. Empathy, in case you are wondering, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another sentient being. This is something that most sex addicts are naturally bad at. The good news is that even though emotional empathy does not come easily to most of us, it can be developed with practice. The bad news is that learning to decipher another person’s thoughts and feelings is not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Our betrayed loved ones will know we’re working on empathy when they can tell we’re really listening to them, and they hear us say things like, “I sense that you’re feeling some anxiety right now. Is that correct? And if it is, can you explain what you’re anxious about? I really want to understand what you’re feeling.”

Just for Today
Pay attention to what your loved ones are feeling, as well as to what they’re saying. If you are unsure of their feelings, ask.

How to Handle the Holidays

When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away.

The holiday season is, for most people, a joyful time filled with family, friends, and celebrations. For recovering sex addicts, however, the holidays can be the most stressful time of the year. Being (or at least pretending to be) happy, celebratory, and emotionally present feels both unnatural and uncomfortable. If we’re not careful, we can become overwhelmed by this pressure, and in response we might revert to old, unhealthy behaviors. If we are already struggling with sobriety, we may find our addiction escalating. As such, it is incredibly important to recognize the “danger zone” of holidays, and to vigilantly maintain our recovery-oriented activities. This is NOT the time to cancel therapy sessions, to postpone a meeting with a sponsor, or to skip any of our regular 12-step meetings. In fact, we may want to attend a few extra meetings and check in with our sponsor more often.

Just for Today
Devote some extra time and attention to recovery, no matter how pressing the holidays feel.

Being Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Does Not Make You a Sex Addict

Sex addiction is unrelated to who or what it is that turns a person on.

There is a widely held perception that people with non-traditional (i.e., non-heterosexual) sexual orientations are, by nature, hypersexual – especially gay and bisexual men. This is not in fact the case. In reality, gay and bisexual men and women (and other members of the LGBTQ community) are no more or less sexual than their straight counterparts. Perhaps some of this “oversexed” belief arises from the fact that topics like “gay sex” are still attention-getters in both the media and private conversations, despite the many recent worldwide advances in the normalization of homosexuality and homosexual behaviors. Either way, a person’s sexual arousal template is not a factor in terms of identifying, diagnosing, and treating sexual addiction.

Just for Today
Try to separate the nature of your primary sexual and romantic attractions from your addiction.

Step Twelve: Carrying the Message

Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.

The “work” of Step Twelve can be broken down into two parts: helping others to recover from addiction, and practicing the twelve-step principles in all our affairs. The first part, helping others, can be done in numerous ways. One common route is sponsorship of newcomers to recovery. A sponsor’s job is to understand the newcomer’s addiction issues as thoroughly as possible, and to guide that individual through the process of working the twelve steps. (If you are a new sponsor and find yourself unsure of what to do, just consult with your own sponsor to see how he or she would handle things.)

Just for Today
Ask your sponsor if you are ready to be a sponsor yourself. Discuss the “why” of his/her response.

Stimulant Abuse Paired with Sexual Addiction

The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us.

Cross and co-occurring addictions are relatively common with sex addicts. Stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine (aka, “meth” or “crystal meth”) are often the co-occurring drug of choice. Alcohol, GHB, MDMA, and various other “party drugs” are also used in conjunction with sexual addiction, but cocaine and meth are most prevalent. This is because cocaine and meth allow users to be sexual for several hours (or even days) at a time. Unfortunately, stimulant drugs (and most other drugs of abuse) are highly disinhibiting, which means the user’s beliefs about the need for safer sex may simply disappear when high, greatly increasing the risk for HIV and other STDs, unwanted pregnancies, etc. Furthermore, stimulant abuse is highly destructive in its own right, both physically and mentally.

Just for Today
Talk about your substance use/abuse with your therapist or in a 12-step meeting. Ask for feedback.