Sexual Addiction

The following information is an adaptation of the article “Assisting a Concerned Person to Motivate Someone Experiencing Cybersex into Treatment” by Judith Landau, James Garrett, and Rob Webb, as seen in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy Vol 25, No. 4, 498-511 on October 2008. If you are seeking help, our sex addiction intervention program is here for you.

Neurobiology of Cybersex Addicts

  • The neurobiology of sexual arousal parallels that of cocaine in its relationship to dopamine, the brain’s “pleasure” chemical.
  • As far as the brain, a reward is a reward, regardless of whether it comes from a chemical or an experience.
  • Where there is a reward—as in sex, gambling, eating, or shopping—there is the risk of of compulsion.
  • Due to improper functioning of the frontal cortex, the individual with a sexual addiction is not able to objectively judge the danger. Therefore, this negatively impacts his or her sexual behavior. Instead, he or she gives in to impulses and sexual cravings by looking for immediate stimulation and gratification.
  • “Lust chemicals” in the first 9-18 months of a relationship relate to the same feeling of a cocaine high. Specifically, the high from a new relationship and from sexual arousal mimics the cocaine high.
  • Once the initial high wears off, the more the individual feels like something is missing. Moreover, he or she will further seek out the sensation of intense pleasure. The very neurochemical that allows and fosters bonding is what drives individuals back to seek the behaviors, emotional distancing, and fantasy cognition that bring them what they are missing.
  • In fact, sex, love, and relationship addiction all stem from the feelings of abandonment. Feelings of abandonment are central to trust, security, safety, and well-being. Those who experience or perceive abandonment learn not to trust themselves or others. Sex addicts use pornography, fantasy, masturbation- to fulfill the rush without the intimacy of a relationship. Love and relationship addicts will use others to try and fulfill the need for intimacy. However, their fear and pain of abandonment haunts them.

Sex Addiction Intervention And The ARISE Process

The ARISE process understands that central to the disorder (of sexual addiction) is the inability of the individual adequately to bond and attach in intimate relationships. The origin of the disorder roots in early developmental attachment failure with primary caregivers. Specifically, sexual addiction becomes a way to compensate for this early attachment failure.

The ARISE method allows the opportunity to actively pursue a solution to the problem and not fall prey to the stereotype that the individual must “hit bottom” before something positive can be done. The addicted individual does not have to be the one to initiate treatment in order for treatment to be successful.

Are you struggling with sex addiction intervention? If so, contact us today to learn more about our addiction intervention programs. Furthermore, visit our addiction treatment resources for further information.