It is quite possible to be addicted to sex, in the same way that one may be addicted to drugs. Drugs work because they are artificial versions of substances our brains naturally produce, and are wired to react to. The drug ecstasy is thought to closely mimic the rush of brain chemicals produced when humans engage in sexual behavior.
Addictions have a psychological as well as a physiological component, however. The primary identifying characteristics of any addiction include:
- escape from/medication of/comfort for the pains of life that are not properly dealt with
- a perplexing loss of personal control
- a personality divided between the "normal" self and the "addict" self (the addict has a "secret life")
- a blatant disregard for the consequences of one's actions
- a progressive nature (a.k.a. "I used to do a little but the little wouldn't do it so the little got more and more")
Sex addicts are typically highly intelligent and creative people, precisely because of the mental chicanery we must engage in to delude ourselves and rationalize our insane behavior. It was truly a zen moment when I realized that my brain itself was defective and thus I could not "think" my way out of my problem, I had to "act" my way out of it.
That's where the twelve steps come in. It is not necessary to comprehend how they work in order to work them and see the benefits. This is difficult to believe, particularly for someone who has the personality of an addict! Addicts who are still in the midst of the delusion are touchy, self-centered, and proud. This mental warping of reality is why the disease is so cunning, baffling, and powerful, and why someone must hit "bottom" in order to admit the problem.
Familiar examples are Marv Albert, Bill Clinton, your friendly neighborhood dad busted for solicitation, the Catholic priest scandal, or the church-going man with a computer full of jailbait pictures. Many addicts consider the police or FBI their friends for helping rescue them (not at the time of the arrest, but much later!)
I regularly attend meetings of Sex Addicts Anonymous and, based on my experience, recovery from sex addiction is possible for anyone who earnestly desires it. I know many men who lost marriages due to extramarital affairs and prostitutes, or who have molested children and gone to prison, who have recovered and have years of sobriety. One man I know and love like a brother has 12 years of sobriety, and I myself have experienced a period of 5 1/2 months.
The twelve steps are simple, but FAR from easy. On the plus side, recovery means MUCH MUCH more than simply not masturbating compulsively in front of the computer or making obscene phone calls. For addicts, it is a completely different way of life that leads to true serenity and happiness that transcends anything we could have comprehended previously, and makes the prospect of returning to our former lives incomprehensible.