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Sex Addiction: An Explanation, Not an Excuse

February 11th, 2013 by

Sex addiction gets a bad rap.

He’s a pervert!

What a loser!

Gimme a break!

Many people think the term is used to excuse people’s behavior, but nothing could be further from the truth. In no way is the concept of sex addiction used to justify or defend the actions of sex addicts, which often have devastating effects on the people closest to them. A better way to think of the concept of sex addiction is simply as an explanation of the behavior that’s occurring. When sex addicts understand their condition they can take more responsibility for it.

Off the Hook

Let’s take a look at Tiger Woods, for instance. Many people scoff at the idea that he’s a sex addict—that it somehow lets him off the hook. Really? He lost endorsement deals with Gatorade, Tag Heuer, Gillete, Accenture, AT&T, and Golf Digest. He paid a record 750 million dollars and lost custody of his kids in a divorce settlement. And after winning an incredible 14 majors by the age of 32, he hasn’t won a single major since the news of his illicit affairs made headlines.

How did he get let off the hook again?

Well, he didn’t. He had to take full responsibility for the consequences of his actions, which included seeking professional help. But many people unfamiliar with the recovery process still view the concept of sex addiction as a way for sex addicts to avoid taking responsibility and to claim helplessness. If that were true, New York Pathways wouldn’t have much work to do. We’d simply slap the label of sex addiction on clients and empathize with them about how unfair the world is.

Sex Addiction Promotes Personal Responsibility

The addiction concept encourages addicts to accept the fact that they can’t let go of their addictive behaviors without help. Caught in an addictive cycle fueled my negative self-beliefs, cognitive distortions, and plain old denial, sex addicts will continue to make bad decisions without help from others. It’s not for nothing that sex addiction has been referred to as an intimacy disorder. Once a sex addict realizes this, it’s his or her responsibility to learn how to connect with and depend on others. With new perspectives from a therapist, sponsor, and other recovering sex addicts, people who struggle with out-of-control sexual behavior can learn to meet their psychological needs in a healthy way, improve their decision making and take more, not less, responsibility for their lives.

By the time someone seeks professional help for sex addiction significant damage has occurred, be it financial, emotional or physical. What we do at New York Pathways is help clients take responsibility for their sex addiction so that they can stop harming themselves and the people they love. Sex addicts learn about how their sex addiction operates, what tools they can use to combat it, and how to connect with other recovering sex addicts so that they can get the ongoing support they need to live fulfilling lives.

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