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  • The Stigma of Sex Addiction

    Even though sex addiction isn’t among the most talked-about addictions, and even though it’s not widely recognized as a source of stigma (given our culture’s encouragement of risky sexual behavior), the struggle for those affected is undeniably real. Perhaps due to its sinful nature when it involves infidelity (widely put down in more conservative parts of the US such as Tennessee) or because many people view excessive sexuality as natural and thus shameful to label as an addiction (in less conservative parts of the country), few individuals seek recovery. So, let’s explore the silent stigma of sex addiction and ways individuals can overcome it.

    What counts as sex addiction?

    First of all, we must make a distinction about what kind of sexual behavior classifies as sexual addiction. Since many people are unsure about its definition, this will unveil some clarity on the topic.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, sex addiction (also known as compulsive sexual behavior or hypersexuality) is characterized by the lack of ability to manage and control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or behaviors despite negative consequences (broken relationships, betrayal trauma, STDs, and so on). While it’s not officially recognized as a medical condition by the DSM-5, it is recognized by the World Health Organization as  compulsive sexual behavior or hypersexuality (or, more colloquially, Don Juanism).

    What are the symptoms of sex addiction?

    There are many signs to watch out for, but these are the most obvious ones:

    ● Engaging in inappropriate or risky sexual behaviors (e.g., exhibitionism, public sex, sex with prostitutes, frequenting sex clubs).

    ● Having sex with multiple partners or engaging in extramarital affairs.

    ● Frequently, compulsively masturbating when alone.

    ● Participating in solitary sexual activities like phone sex, watching pornography, or engaging in cybersex.

    Lastly, it’s important to know that a person may not need to engage in extreme or unusual sexual activities to be classified as a sex addict. It’s their inability to stop, even if they know it could harm them.

    The connection between sex addiction and mental health

    According to the American Addiction Centers’ ProjectKnow, 40% of persons labeled as sex addicts have a history of mood disorders like depression. Sexual behaviors might relieve depressive symptoms temporarily. This is mostly due to the fact that it triggers a solid dopamine release. However, it can easily lead to the development of addiction. Some people rely solely on sex to deal with symptoms of depression.

    As a result of promiscuous sexual behavior, feelings of guilt and shame are often present. This can perpetuate the vicious cycle of depressive thoughts. Unfortunately, this is even more prominent if a person’s background and social surroundings are more conservative. For instance, in Tennessee, some people choose not to treat their sex addiction or underlying mental health problems due to the stigma surrounding it, and pay a heavy price in feeling shame and guilt. 

    The importance of professional help

    However, therapy  with a CSAT, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, is crucial for those suffering from mental health issues like depression due to their sex addiction. Therapy provides essential support, coping strategies, and insights. This helps them address underlying emotional challenges and facilitates a healthier recovery process. Luckily, even the Volunteer State has high-quality programs for mental health treatment. Time Wellness Tennessee redefines mental health care in Tennessee with a unique approach to mental health issues. This state-of-the-art mental health clinic has introduced personalized, tailored treatments rather than one-size-fits-all approaches so that individuals can confront and overcome the stigma and barriers that often deter them from seeking help.

    The stigma of sex addiction

    Addiction, regardless of its form, is frequently perceived as a moral failure or weakness despite extensive psychological and sociological research indicating otherwise. However, due to these societal misconceptions, a person may feel reluctant to seek support from friends, family, or medical professionals, fearing judgment or having their concerns dismissed. That’s the textbook example of being afraid to be stigmatized. Also, that’s exactly why many people deny their (sex) addiction and refuse to seek treatment.

    Another key reason why individuals with sex addiction refrain from seeking support is the reluctance to perceive themselves as addicts and acknowledge their inability to resist urges. It can be challenging to accept this label and recognize the need for support, leading to hesitation in joining any support group. Luckily, there are ways that individuals can overcome these feelings and take that first crucial step toward recovery.

    How to overcome (the stigma of) sex addiction?

    Here, we’ll provide tips for overcoming the stigma associated with sex addiction and ultimately addressing the addiction itself.

    Write about these feelings (keep a diary)

    Reflecting on personal struggles you’re dealing with on a daily level and maintaining a diary can help you notice patterns in behavior; this aids in understanding and addressing addiction. There are a couple of ways you can mark the beginning of your personal recovery. For example, try journaling about the detrimental effects of sex addiction and the stigma that surrounds it. Or reflect on its impact on family, relationships, and various aspects of life. Also, describe how it has affected your mental and physical health. You might feel a solid boost in motivation to free yourself of addiction once and for all.

    Talk openly to your loved ones

    Another effective approach to combatting the stigma of sex addiction is to have open conversations with trusted loved ones, especially those who won’t be emotionally harmed by your condition. Avoiding secrecy can prevent the stigma from developing the addiction, as keeping it hidden may serve as a trigger for further development.

    Throw away your trigger items

    Try getting rid of triggering items from your environment: dispose of or recycle pornographic materials and delete explicit content from your devices. Clear your browsing history and consider installing software to block access to pornography sites. This will ease the process of abstaining from triggering behavior and treating sex addiction.


    In conclusion, the stigma of sex addiction is formidable, requiring individuals to possess strong determination in their pursuit of recovery. Admitting to addiction, whether it’s to sex, substances, or other behaviors like smartphone use, is always the crucial first step. By journaling thoughts and being open with oneself and loved ones, individuals can begin to dismantle the negative effects of stigma and move closer to complete recovery from sex addiction. Also, try to do away with all the items that might trigger your addiction, such as pornographic material in both physical and digital forms or dating apps.


    The Real Connections Between Mental Health and Sex Addiction

    Meta Description: Sex addiction is real, and there’s a stigma surrounding it. Join us to explore the intricacies of sex addiction stigma and ways to overcome it.

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