A.Observing the Problem
•When did it start? I would say my addiction to sex started when I was 16 with my second boyfriend. •What are the symptoms? An insatiable craving for spontaneous, unplanned, highly erotic stimulation from the opposite sex or self. Heart rate increase, anxious feelings, and constant thoughts of what I want to happen, what is going to happen, or what I may fantasize about happening but hold back on for certain reasons. B.Learn More About It
A few investigators recognize sexual behavior among teens as reflecting historically normative behavior, and define “risky” sexual behavior among teens (particularly among older or high-risk teens) as including such hazardous activities as having multiple sexual partners, not using condoms consistently, or using alcohol during sex. These behaviors are consistent with an addictive behavior perspective, and are associated with a variety of negative consequences. In particular, in large samples of HIV+ persons, 15% of the sample may fall within a 15–29 year old age range. Currently, it is estimated that at least 50% of all HIV cases are acquired prior to age 25. In addition, several co-morbid conditions may stem from, or be made worse from, (unpleasant) repeated sexual experiences among teens, including drug abuse, experience of physical violence and dating violence, post-traumatic stress disorder, difficulty socially bonding with others, and depression, as well as unwanted pregnancy (up to 100 cases per 1000), STDS (accounting for 3 million new cases each year), and HIV/AID. (Sussman) Perhaps the most frightening aspect about the course and outcome of teenage sexual addiction is that it likely sets up a life-long struggle in which one’s focus of activity, reward system, affect and behavior are intertwined with themes of sexual pleasure. Because of what may develop as a teen, adult sex addicts may suffer the culmination of years of addiction including loss of family, job, and self-respect. (Sussman)
I met with Robert Weiss, LCSW, CAS, Executive Director, and Omar Minwalla, Psy.D, Clinical Director, of the Sexual Recovery Institute (SRI) in Los Angeles. The SRI has seen over 1000 male sex addicts since opening its doors in 1995. The two directors suggested some unique features that teens with developing sex addictions might display, based on retrospective reports they recalled from their clients. These features include:
1. Masturbation to self-sooth (e.g., after an argument with parents, when feeling anxiety), perhaps feeling drained or depressed after ejaculating, perhaps masturbating to the point of injury.
2. Tendency to try to get emotional needs met through sexual fantasy or behavior
3. Pursuit of sexual pleasure begins to become a priority
4. Many life situations become interpreted in sexual terms, life becomes sexualized 5. Potential withdrawal from others and institutions into a more sexually focused world (a teen may seek out adult females, may get STDs). (Sussman)
Arguably, these teens’ dangerous sexual behavior will continue into adulthood, since the best predictor of future behavior tends to be past behavior (Sussman & Ames, 2001). I think it may be wise to assert that engagement in risky sex among teens is consistent with the intent of a category of teen sexual addiction. Certainly having sex with multiple partners, or while using drugs, or without protection is suggestive of losing control over one’s sexual activities.
1.Have you ever thought you needed help for your sexual thinking or behavior? Yes 2.That you'd be better off if you didn't keep “giving in”? Yes 3.That sex or stimuli are controlling you? Yes
4.Have you ever tried to stop or limit doing what you felt was wrong in your sexual behavior? Yes 5.Do you resort to sex to escape, relieve anxiety, or because you can't cope? Sometimes 6.Do you feel guilt, remorse or depression afterward? No
7.Has your pursuit of sex become more compulsive? Yes (On & Off thru years) 8.Does it interfere with relations with your spouse? Yes
9.Do you have to resort to images or memories during sex? Yes, Sometimes 10.Does an irresistible impulse arise when the other party makes the overtures or sex is offered? Yes 11.Do you keep going from one “relationship” or lover to another? Back and forth between partners that I have been with repeatedly. Every few years a new partner comes into play. 12.Do you feel the “right relationship” would help you stop lusting, masturbating, or being so promiscuous? Maybe 13.Do you have a destructive need—a desperate sexual or emotional need for someone? Yes 14.Does pursuit of sex make you careless for yourself or the welfare of your family or others? Self, Not family 15.Has your effectiveness or concentration decreased as sex has become more compulsive? No (Same) 16.Do you lose time from work for it? Yes (I have)
17.Do you turn to a lower environment when pursuing sex? No 18.Do you want to get away from the sex partner as soon as possible after the act? No 19.Although your spouse is sexually compatible, do you still masturbate or have sex with others? Yes 20.Have you ever been arrested for a sex-related offense? No (Sexaholics Anonymous International )
C.Make an Action Plan
•What do you think is wrong? I think I more than likely have a sexual addiction, even though I have been through therapy before and the therapist said I was normal with a really high sex drive. My sexual addiction probably started in my teenage years where I met the bulk of my sexual partners that Istill shift between. •What have you decided to do about it? Research into sexaholics anonymous and learn more about my problem. I will actively try to follow these twelve steps.
The Twelve Steps
1.We admitted that we were powerless over lust -- that our lives had become unmanageable. 2.Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3.Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 4.Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5.Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6.Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7.Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8.Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 9.Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 10.Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. 11.Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 12.Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to sexaholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. (Sexaholics Anonymous International )
2.My Eating Habits was the second thing on my list that needed some improving. Since I wrote my self reflection instead of eating out 3-4 times a week I have cut backto maybe twice a week now. I would like to lose another 20 lbs. and this is directly related to my eating. I have lost 70 lbs since having my last son but need to lose to more to make it to my pre baby weight of 130 which is my goal. This can only be achieved through healthy eating and lifestyle changes.
Sexaholics Anonymous International . Sexaholics Anonymous. 1997-2008. 1 December 2008 .
Sussman, S., & Ames, S.L. 2001. The social psychology of drug abuse. Buckingham,: GB: Open University Press, (2001).
Sussman, Steve. "Sexual Addiction among Teens: A Review." Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity (Oct2007): Vol. 14 Issue 4, p257-278, 22p.