Are you worried that you or someone close to you has a sex and love addiction? Help is at hand. Here we tell you a little about sexual addiction, what to look out for and how we can get you or a loved one the best possible treatment.

What is sex and love addiction?

Sex and love addiction is also known as SLA. It’s a progressive illness that will get worse if it isn’t checked. Some SLA sufferers have a sex addiction, some have a love addiction. Quite often, the two are intertwined. Sex and love addiction takes a variety of forms, including a compulsive need for sex, becoming sexually involved or emotionally attached to people without knowing them, extreme dependency on one or many people, and a preoccupation with romance and fantasy. Individuals may confuse love with sexual attraction, search continually for relationships and sexual contact. They may use sex and emotional involvement to manipulate others or as a substitute for nurture and support. Some return to destructive relationships for fear of being alone. Others attach themselves to people who are emotionally unavailable in order to avoid responsibility. Sex and love addicts will often starve themselves of sexual and emotional involvement, mistaking abstention as recovery.

Signs, symptoms and risks of sex and love addiction

The signs of an addiction to love are basically the same as its characteristics which are explained above. As many of its characteristics are emotional, this can make it a difficult addiction to identify in someone else. Sex addiction can be is a little easier to identify, depending on the nature of the addiction. Signs can include excessive self-stimulation, compulsive use of pornography, multiple extra-marital affairs or one-night stands, use of prostitutes or prostitution, cybersex or telephone sex, and high-risk sex.  We must be aware, however, that sex addicts are usually skilled in hiding their secret lives from those around them.  Sex addicts can progress to illegal sexual activities but it’s important to note, however, that most sex addicts do not become sex offenders. Sex and love addicts are a high risk group for sexually transmitted diseases. And it is common for personal and family relationships to deteriorate in the life of someone addicted to sex and love.

Treatment for sex and love addiction

The goal of sex and love addiction recovery is different to those of other addictions. The goal isn’t for the individual to abstain from sex or love for the rest of their life; it’s to be able to sustain healthy sexual and emotional relationships. The first step is to get the addict to stop his or her behaviour and that does normally involve a period of abstinence which helps the individual get to the root of the addiction. Sex and love addiction treatments can include residential or outpatient therapy at a rehab centre with a programme of individual and group sessions. It’s important that the addict’s partner, if he or she has one, is involved with the treatment, and family therapy might be necessary.  Aftercare is essential for the sex and love addict, and we’d recommend attendance of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous which provides a 12-step programme based on the model successfully pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous. The team at Addictions Helper will explore the treatment options available to you, and provide you with the support that you and your family need.