Hundreds of thousands of people suffer from sex addiction – a pattern of sexual behavior which the sex addict performs in spite of the ever-increasing negative impact it has on his or her quality of life. Sexual addition is often characterized by the compulsive use of pornography, internet “cruising”, extreme promiscuity, extra-marital affairs, phone sex or any other sexual activity that interferes with daily living. Frequently, suffers of sex addiction use these sexual behaviors to mask or “medicate” unpleasant feelings such as depression or anxiety, past traumas or other mental or emotional challenges.

Recovering from sex addiction is usually a difficult process, but there is help available for those who wish to recover. Follow these steps to begin the journey towards freedom from sexual addiction:

The first step in recovering from sexual addiction is to understand the dynamics that are involved in the dysfunction. There are several essential books which will help sexual addicts understand their affliction: “Out of the Shadows” and “Contrary to Love” by Dr. Patrick Carnes are the best places to start. Those that especially struggle with sex addiction as it relates to the Internet should also read, “In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free From Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior”, also by Patrick Carnes.

A second element to escaping sex addiction is to seek out the wisdom, encouragement and support of a twelve-step group dedicated to breaking its power. Twelve-step recovery groups provide a safe, supportive, non-judgmental environment in which to learn from the experiences of other sufferers and confront deep-seated personal issues. Some of the most prominent twelve-step sex addiction recovery programs are Sexaholics Anonymous (SA), Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA). Each of these groups can be reached through their websites, listed in the Resources below. Some groups offer telephone and online meetings for those without group meetings in their area.

Many sex addicts find that one-on-one sex addiction counseling is also an invaluable element of their recovery. Consult your local yellow pages for a list of available counselors or psychologists in your area. Be sure to work with a counselor with previous experience in treating patients with sexual addiction.