FAQ’S: Sex Addiction

Written by Dr. Doug Weiss

What is sex addiction?

Sex addiction is a way some people medicate their feelings and/or cope with their stresses to the degree that their sexual behavior becomes their major coping mechanism for stresses in their life. The individual often can not stop this sexual behavior for any great length of time by themselves. The sex addict spends a lot of time in the pursuit of his or her sexual behavior/fantasy or they may have a binge of sexual behaviors.

Why do people become sexually addicted?

This is different for every sex addict but generally speaking there are biological, psychological, and spiritual reasons. The following is a short explanation of each reason why someone can become a sex addict. The biological addict is someone who has conditioned their body to receive endorphins and enkephlines (brain chemicals) primarily through reinforcing a fantasy state with the ejaculation that provides these chemicals to their brain. Psychologically, the need to medicate or escape physical, emotional or sexual abuse can demand a substance, the early addict finds the sex medicine usually before alcohol or drugs. [Related: Read Maureen’s story of experiencing sexual abuse as a child.Spiritually, a person is filling up the God hole in them with their sexual addiction. The addiction is their spirituality, it comforts them, celebrates them and is always available and present. Then there is the sex addict who can be two or even three of the above reasons. This is why a specialist in sex addiction is the best route for recovery with sex addiction.

What’s the difference between sex addiction and a high sex drive?

I have heard this question on almost every national talk show or radio show I have been on over the years. A person with a high sex drive is satisfied with sex. It’s not about a fix for something; when their partner says “NO” it doesn’t make them go off the handle thinking their partner is totally rejecting them and have to leave the house or act out in some other way. If you can relate to this the chances are there may be an addiction issue.

Can you be addicted to masturbation?

Yes, this is by far the most common sex addiction that I have treated in working with sex addiction. This usually is the first sexual behavior many of us will have on a repeated basis. This is usually where the sexual compulsion starts with sex addicts and this behavior, regardless of other acquired behaviors, usually stays active.

What role does pornography play in sex addiction?

Pornography for many sex addicts combined with regular masturbation is the cornerstone for most sex addicts. Many sex addicts have great difficulty getting sober from this combination of behavior. The pornography with fantasy creates an unreal world that the sex addict visits throughout their adolescence and other developmental stages and creates an object relationship that conditions their emotional and sexual self to depend upon these objects and fantasies to meet their emotional and sexual needs hundreds of times before having sex with a real person.

[Related: Read Jeff’s story of overcoming porn addiction.]

Can someone be a sex addict and not be sexual with their spouse or committed relationship?

YES! We call this later stage of sex addiction, sexual anorexia. In this stage of sex addiction, the addict prefers the fantasy world and fantasy sex with themselves or others instead of relational sex with their spouse or partner. The addict/anorexic avoids relational sex and hence this couple has sex infrequently and often at the partners request not the addict/anorexics.

What is it like to live with a sex addict from a partner’s or wife’s perspective?

The partners/wives of sex addicts report many similar feelings about living with the sex addict. The feeling of aloneness is a common experience with partners of sex addicts, the sense that he can’t open up and tell you about his “real” self. The confusion of even after you do certain behaviors that this still is not enough and the hopelessness that there isn’t enough. Anger for many different unmet needs as a person and as a woman are often common.

Can partners get help even if the sex addict doesn’t?

Yes, even if the addict stays in denial of their addiction the partner can receive help and support for herself. The feelings of anger, loss, loneliness and many other feelings encountered over the years of living with this addiction will effect a person. These feelings need to be dealt with therapeutically whether they stay married to the addict or not.  The addiction was in no way your doing as a partner or wife, the addicts addiction started many years before you even met your addict. This addiction would have grown and damaged anyone they would have related to in any relationship.

Is there recovery for sex addiction?

Yes, there is recovery for sex addiction. This recovery takes time and hard work especially in the first year but with guided help the sex addict can experience restoration in their emotional, relational, sexual, financial and even spiritual lives. I have seen marriages made better than they ever were and addicts live much happier lives than they ever thought possible. I have been in successful recovery over eleven years and I know it’s available for those who choose to work for and maintain recovery.

Is there research on sex addiction available?

There is research being done in the field of sexual addiction. The monitored mail list of Heart to Heart Counseling centers provides weekly research information as well as excerpts from 101 Practical Exercises for sexual addiction recovery as well as Twelve Step discussions.

Can women be sex addicted?

Yes! The number of women desiring treatment is growing significantly. The behaviors are the same as their male counterparts including: masturbation, pornography, internet activity, anonymous encounters and affairs. Over twenty recovering female sex addicts contributed in writing She Has a Secret: Understanding Female Sexual Addiction. This book plus the Secret Solutions Workbook, with over 115 helpful techniques for recovery is just for her. If you would like to set up a telephone counseling appointment to start your journey of recovery, call today. There is hope for female sex addicts to recovery.

Is there any way to help our children not become sexually addicted?

Yes! Even though many of our adult male clients report that their fathers were sex addicts (porn, affairs, prostitutes etc.) they also report getting little to no proper sexual information to balance their sexual perspective. Good Enough to Wait is the first DVD of this kind to help your children understand sex and the brain, the long-term affects of pornography, long term sexual satisfaction and a whole lot more. This is the best combination of sex research and spiritual principles to date for youth to watch to give them a proper and currently informed sex talk.


If you or someone you love is dealing with sex addiction, there is help available for you. Resources are available from Dr. Weiss’ site.

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258 Responses to “FAQ’S: Sex Addiction”

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    You are so right Keith! Trying to satisfy our flesh only leads to guilt and shame and when it is recurring it can take a hold and give the enemy a foothold into our lives. It’s only by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us that we can have freedom from these addictions, but the good news is, that there is freedom in Christ!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Keith says:

    Liz & Jamie you are not alone in your desire to live a Holy sanctified life for I know you like me have tried to satisfy your flesh and felt the guilt and shame along with the weakening effects it has on your will and body ! I won’t give you a lot of insight into my struggle but I’m married and not getting my needs fulfilled at all(0)! However I feel , is not the real issue but is a problem and if I were in your presence I would begin to cry! But Gal 5:24 says they that are Christs have crucified the affections and the lusts thereof! I hope this scripture empowers you that when those seducers and receivers and Satan come to tempt you that you can ask yourself like Jesus asked Peter lovest thou me more than these… Three times he did it and finally Peter said Lord thou knowest that I Love Thee! I said all that with the Love of the Holy Ghost to a weary soul that it will be fed and delivered in Jesus’s Mighty Name!!

  • John says:

    How I could start ?!

  • Aldo says:

    Jeff, you may be right. As almost all addictions can be debilitating, we need to find ways which will help us get free from them.

    Powertochange.com is a great site to help with that. All anyone need do is go to powertochange.com, and type in the name of the addiction in the box provided. They also can chat with a mentor on a one to one basis by clicking on the Talk to a mentor button at the bottom left of the page.

  • Jeff says:

    Sex addiction may be a sensitivity to simulates .In my case caffeine .When I gave up coffee drinking my sex drive dropped off 75%.

  • Liz says:

    Hi Jamie,
    Thanks for your reply. The support and direction is very helpful and will enable me to rest in knowing and realizing the ways of Christ as he lived and moved among people.I hope I can learn to be an agent of change for the good of society by living and resting in him, and by reading the book about Gods design for marriage. Praise God for his goodness and love.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    A really good resource on this issue, Liz, is Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet’s book “Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage” They will help you think through the implications of the decisions we make as a culture and as individuals and provide some creative ways of responding to others. Christianity Today did an interview with these two last August (http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/august/evangelicals-and-same-sex-marriage-interview-with-john-ston.html )and it is a good teaser for their book.

    Jesus gave us a great example of how to interact with people who have a different view on sin than we do: He loving helped them realize the truth. The woman at the well is a good example (John 4:1-45) He engaged in conversation with her and spoke truth but not in an angry judgemental way. He saved His anger for those who were religious leaders who should have been agents of truth but instead were masked their self-centredness in religious appearances and were taking advantage of people rather than caring for them. But Jesus had meals with the marginalized, the outcasts, and the sinners. I think we best reflect His character when we are looking for ways to serve people who believe differently than us. We don’t hide the truth, as Peter wrote, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1Peter 3:15-16) But we also look for ways to care for them. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28)

    Lord God I pray for Liz and ask that You would help her to know how to give a response for the things she believes from Your Word. Give her creativity to find ways to bless those who criticize her. Give her a love that transcends the ridicule and hurt. Give her a clear understanding of Your truth and let that guide her thoughts, attitudes and behaviours. And in it all, would she know Your Spirit’s presence with her, guiding and directing her words and her actions. In Jesus’ name, amen.

  • Liz says:

    Hi Jamie,
    Thanks for your reply, it was good and straightforward. When all over the media here in Australia, gay marriage is continually being discussed, I have my clear views and non christian friends and family take my views as an opportunity to criticise me until I say yeah, I suppose your right.
    Really the view of gay marriage has turned up because so many marriage vows are taken outside the church.I have family and friends who have done this.
    All this division is just confusing and unnecessary.
    I haven’t been pushed out of a church or made into a laughing stock. I was just speculating what could happen in the extreme.There is so much opposition, misunderstanding and disrespect for Gods simple and basic desire for order in our society,it makes me dizzy just to think about it.
    I don’t want to seem as though I am passing judgement when I talk to friends and family about it,but when I try to explain the truth, I am told I am being critical and hurtful and judgemental towards those who choose an alternative lifestyle and want to be seen as the same as heterosexual couples. Perhaps I should just opt out and say nothing? I am in that case, left alone with nothing to say, and that is lonely.
    Gay couples delight in saying they are not hurting any one,I disagree.
    Non-traditional lifestyle choices do hurt people. Anyway, I feel better now I have vented how I feel on this topic, I am grateful for this site and for the kind and caring people who try to understand and listen. Calling out from the bottom of the well, Liz.

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