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Sexual Matters: "I'm addicted to sex."

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I'm addicted to sex. I think about it all the time, and though I have a good sex life with my boyfriend, it's not enough to satisfy me. I've begun cheating on him with all kinds of men—friends, coworkers, one-night stands. I was sexually abused as a child. Could that have anything to do with my behavior? How can I get help?

Sex addiction has little to do with how often you have sex, or even with whom you choose to have sex. You are considered a sex addict when you can't control your drive to obtain sex and find it impossible to stop despite the possibility of negative consequences. As in other addictions, sex provides a pleasurable high that the addict craves and needs to feel normal. At the same time, the compulsive behavior may lead to feelings of guilt, shame and low self-esteem. The seeds of sexual addiction are planted during childhood. And most sex addicts have a history of abuse as children.

It is clear from your question that you are distressed by your out-of-control, self-destructive behavior. And for good reason; Not only are you jeopardizing your relationship with your boyfriend, but you are also placing your personal safety at risk. With each new partner, you increase your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection such as HIV/AIDS, as well as the human papillomavirus, which can lead to cervical cancer.

You've made the first step to recovery—admitting you have a problem. Seek an experienced psychologist or therapist to help you deal with the emotions causing this dangerous behavior. Support groups such as Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous are based on the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Find the contact information for several programs at the Web site of the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity: ncsac.org.

You can return to a normal, healthy sex life.

Filed Under: Sex
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