Sex Addiction: What Is It?

Sex addiction is the active using of a sexual behavior, whether it is masturbation, an internet porn addiction, fetishes and/or behavior with self or others in a compulsive life-destroying pattern.

This is a real issue impacting millions of individuals, marriages, and families around the globe.The impact is felt in the life of the addict and his or her surrounding family members and friends. You and the one you love can recover from the damaging effects the addiction can have on your relationship. Whether you are an addict or the partner of an addict: you are not alone and there is hope!


The biological sex addict is someone whose excessive masturbation and pornography viewing has highjacked the sexual response to attaching to images and fantasy. This person may have challenges with relational sex. Although most people have the biological type as one component of their addiction, only about 15 percent (in Dr. Weiss’s experience) are solely biologically based.


Research shows that most sex addicts have suffered some form of past abuse or neglect. This person finds the combination of the messages in the fantasy world and the sexual chemical cocktail to the brain to be a salve for their hurting soul. Simply put, they medicate the past pain in their souls with sexual acting out, which is their form of medicine.

In our clinical experience, 80 percent or more of those who struggle with sex addiction have abandonment, abuse or neglect issues of some type in their past. These painful events will ultimately need to be addressed for the sex addict to fully heal.


The person with this type is looking for a spiritual connection in all the wrong places. In recovery, we talk about our spiritual hole. This person tries sex for this spiritual void and finds it doesn’t scratch the itch over time.

Trauma Based

The person with the trauma based sex addiction has experienced sexual trauma(s) as a child or adolescent. This trauma becomes the major repetitive behavior in their addiction.

For the trauma based, the trauma determines the flavor of the sexual addiction. Here trauma work will need to be addressed for the addict to heal.

Mood Disorder

In a journal article Dr. Weiss wrote called The Prevalence of Depression in Male Sex Addicts Residing in the United States, Weiss discovered that 28% of male sex addicts suffered from depression. People with this type have chemical imbalances in adolescence or young adulthood.  This young person finds the sexual release as a way to medicate or alter their present chemical imbalance. They then use this sexual response regularly and over time unexpectedly create an addiction.

Intimacy Anorexia

In earlier research we determined 29%  fit into the category of intimacy anorexia as well. This subject is covered in great detail in the Intimacy Anorexia DVD and book.

To be brief, I will list the characteristics of intimacy anorexia. Answer these the way your spouse or partner would answer them about you. If you believe that five or more criteria apply to you, then you are probably an intimacy anorexic.

  1. Withhold love
  2. Withhold praise or appreciation
  3. Control by silence/anger
  4. Criticism causing isolation
  5. Withholding sex
  6. Blaming partner for everything
  7. Staying very busy to avoid partner time
  8. Control/Shame with money issues
  9. Unable to share feelings
  10. Withholding spiritual connection

Many addicts who have been trying to get sober but keep having what I call “flat tire” recovery (relapsing regularly) often are identified as intimacy anorexics. If you have been sober from acting out behaviors for a year but your wife wants to leave you now because “nothing’s changed” you might also be a sexual/emotional anorexic.

Want to know which type of sexual addict you are?

Sex addiction recovery is possible. Douglas Weiss, Ph.D. has been successfully counseling sex addicts and their spouses for almost thirty years. He was the first in the world to treat Sex Addiction with 3 and 5-day intensives at Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

During these 3 or 5 Day Intensives, sex addicts (and their spouses if applicable) receive 9 to 15 specialized exclusive therapy sessions. This can include marriage and individual sessions, attending informative educational therapy groups, 12 step work groups, as well as watching educational DVDs pertaining directly to their circumstances.

Couples are helped through the critical phases of disclosure, moving into the process of recovery and rebuilding trust, healing, and grief for the partner of the sex addict and marital recovery from the sex addiction.

Dr. Weiss has guided many couples as they rebuild their relationship and grasp and implement the necessary skills for an intimate relationship.


Recovery is possible!




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