Signs of Sexual Addiction (Based upon Patrick Carnes work)

1. Loss of Control
• Out of control sexual behavior predominates
• The addict cannot control the extent, duration and regularity of his/her
sexual behavior
Behavior excesses continue despite clear signs of danger (consequences)
-- Compulsive masturbation
-- Compulsive pornography use
-- Chronic affairs
-- Exhibitionism: intrusive "flaunting/showing"
-- Dangerous sexual practices, i.e., asphyxiation
-- Prostitution
-- Anonymous sex (at porn shops, bars, etc.)
-- Voyeurism: intrusive "watching"

2. Continuation Despite Consequences
• Social Consequences
-- Loss of marriage/primary relationship, friendships and social networks
-- Problematic relationships with spouse, family and/or significant others
• Emotional Consequences
-- Depression, anxiety, fear, etc.
-- Suicidal thoughts, plans and/or attempts (70% have thought about it)
• Physical Consequences
-- Injury due to frequency and type of behaviors
-- Sexually-transmitted diseases
-- Unwanted pregnancies or abortions
-- Sleep disturbances
• Legal Consequences
-- Arrests for sexual crimes (voyeurism, lewd conduct, etc.),
-- Loss of job, licensure, and/or professional status
-- Sexual harassment charges
-- Fines, legal fees, probation, or incarceration
-- Being on the Sexual Offender Database
• Financial Consequences
-- Costs of pornography, prostitutes, and phone sex can cause financial hardships
-- Loss of productivity, creativity and/or employment
-- Loss of career opportunities
-- Bankruptcy

3. Efforts to Stop
• Repeated specific attempts to the behavior, which fail
• Even after multiple life changing consequences, the sex addict cannot stop
-- Leads to further frustration, anger, shame and depression (fueling further
episodes of addictive behavior)

4. Loss of Time
• Significant amounts of time lost doing and/or recovering from the behavior

5. Inability to Fulfill Obligations
• The behavior interferes with work, school, family, and friends
• High-risk behavior is continued despite responsibilities and expectations
• A pattern of broken promises and failures

6. Ongoing Desire or Effort to Limit Sexual Behavior
• Repeated but futile attempts to change, limit or stop addictive behavior
• Breaking promises to change, limit or stop behavior
• Cross Addictions: substituting or transferring another addiction to help stop
or control the sexual cravings
-- Workaholism
-- Overeating
-- Alcohol abuse
-- Illegal and prescribed drug abuse
-- Compulsive gambling
-- Religious Addiction
-- Romance addiction

7. Preoccupation (Obsession about or because of behavior)
• Sexual obsession and fantasy as a primary coping strategy
• Elevated levels of arousal are used to cover up feelings
• Sex becomes a primary drug to numb, "medicate" and/or regulate emotions
• Sex is used to block out painful and unpleasant memories
• Euphoric Recall or "Sex in the head" maintains the fix whenever needed
-- Secretive mental images of past sexual acting out, which is used to sexually
act out again
-- Its like having a personal collection of pornography to be used at any time

8. Escalation
• Amounts of behavior increase because the current levels no longer satiate
-- Higher "dosages" are needed to get the same feeling/excitement.
-- Can cause self injury
• Masturbation to the point of injury
• Asphyxiation
-- Increased levels create victims

9. Severe mood changes around sexual activity
• Depression, anxiety, anger, and other mood/affective states can result from
repeated failures to stop or control the addictive behavior
• 70% described chronic feelings of depression
-- Other chronic mood or affective states include:
• Guilt and shame
• Anger at self and others
• Hopelessness and despair (monitor suicidal ideations)
-- Mood changes may be "medicated" (hidden) through the use of other drugs or m

10. Compulsive Behavior
• Sexual behavior that you want to stop but you can't
• A pattern of out of control behavior over time
• Sex becomes the organizing principal of daily life
• Everything revolves around it
-- On sexual obsessions and fantasizing
-- On planning next event
-- On sexual acting out (some spend 8 hours a night on the internet)
-- On covering up or making up for lost time
-- Addressing consequences of sexual behavior

11. Losses
• Losing, limiting, or sacrificing valued parts of life
-- Hobbies, family relationships, and work
-- Loss of important personal, social, occupational or recreational activities
-- Loss of friends and family (loss of relationships)
-- Loss of long-term relationships
-- Loss of talents, goals, and personal and professional aspirations

12. Withdrawal
• Stopping behavior causes considerable distress, anxiety, irritability, or
physical discomfort.
• Usually lasts for about 14 days, but can be as long as 10 weeks
-- Insomnia
-- Headaches and/or body aches
-- High or low sexual arousal and/or genital sensitivity
-- Increased appetite for food
-- Chills, sweats, shakes and/or nausea
-- Rapid heartbeat and/or shortness of breath
-- Intrusive dreams
-- High level of anxiety and irritability
-- Emotional lability (roller coaster feelings)
• Some sex addicts with a chemical dependency report that withdrawals are worse
for sex addiction than for drug/alcohol addictions

Author's Bio: 

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC
Clinical Care Consultants
3325 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Ste 400B
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Phone:(847) 749-0514
Fax (847) 749-2995

Since 1988, Ross has been an administrator, professional trainer, counselor/psychotherapist, and an administrator in the mental health, social service and/or child welfare fields.

Ross is an established Illinois based professional trainer. Some of Ross’s trainings include

Sex Addiction: from A to Z
Caught in the Web: Cybersex, Romance and Fantasy Addiction
The Continuum of Self: The Attraction between Codependents and Narcissists
Therapy in the 21st Century: Technology’s Influence on Clinical Practice

Over the span of his career, Ross has worked with individuals who struggle with substance abuse, addictions, and co-addictions (Codependency). Ross’s addiction work includes chemical addictions (drugs/alcohol) and process or behavior addictions (sexual addiction, Internet addictions, gambling addictions, and spending addictions. Ross’s addiction services include counseling or all types, assessments, and professional consultation and training. Ross in considered an expert in the field of Sex Addictions and Internet Addictions, for which he provides comprehensive counseling services, training, and consultation.

Ross is well known in the local community for his work with hard to reach and oppositional adolescents. Typical issues with his adolescent clients include ADD / ADHD, drugs/alcohol, school challenges, anger control, eating disorders, self-mutilation, communication problems, and family struggles. Ross's work with teens also includes a family/parent focus, whether it is coaching, counseling / psychotherapy, or support.

Ross's work spans problem type, culture, ethnicity, gender, socio economic status, and sexual orientation. Some areas that Ross specializes in include: Marriage/Marital Counseling, Addictions, Codependency (Co-Addictions), Depression, Anxiety, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), Challenging Teens, Grief and Bereavement, Trauma Survivors (PTSD), Marital and Family Conflict, and LGBTQ issues

Ross's counseling / psychotherapy work with Codependency has enabled his clients to achieve balance, mutuality, and feelings of respect and appreciation in their lives. Balancing the care of others with the equally important ability to care for oneself is the cornerstone of codependency counseling / psychotherapy. Ross’s Codependency services includes individual, family, couples and/or marital therapies.

Ross's work with adult survivors of trauma and abuse enables his clients to break free from lifelong self-destructive patterns. His healing approach addresses "original wounds" (trauma of the past) which, without resolution, perpetuate emotional pain, suffering, and unsatisfying and dysfunctional relationships. This type of trauma counseling / psychotherapy promotes positive/healthy relationships, a heightened sense of well-being, and feelings of safety, control and happiness.

Another service provided is counseling and coaching for clients with ADD/ADHD. Ross provides assessment, diagnostic and a full range of ADD/ADHD psychotherapeutic services. Ross's collaboration with family members, medical, school, and employment personnel, creates a greater opportunity for success in the treatment of this disorder. Other ADD/ADHD services include coaching that addresses the following challenges unique to this disorder: communication, organization and follow-through, relationship and family challenges, work demands, and school demands.

Grief, loss, and death and dying are difficult issues that Ross helps his clients work through. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, job, lifestyle, or one’s health, vitality and even life, Ross guides his clients through difficult and often heart-wrenching times. Embracing diversity / cultural competence has been a cornerstone of Ross's practice

Ross's counseling / psychotherapy style has been described as solution focused, analytical, and educational while also being warm, intuitive, healing, spiritual, and compassionate. Ross's spirituality and metaphysical understanding enables him to reach people with diverse religious and spiritual beliefs. According to Ross, "for every problem, there is a solution; and within a warm and respectful therapeutic relationship lies the power to overcome the most seemingly overwhelming obstacles."
I provide psychotherapy, evaluations (ADD, addictions/substance abuse), supervision, consultation, training, and business coaching. Some of my specialties include: challenging teens, parenting issues, substance abuse, addictions, codependency or co-addictions, ADD, adult survivors of childhood abuse or neglect, trauma survivors, depression and/or anxiety, and grief and bereavement. As an expert in the field of sex addiction and sex co-addiction, I provide a variety of professional services.