David Smallwood is the Treatment Director at One40, over the coming weeks we will be featuring some of the highlight excerpts from his new book.
People in the UK may remember the famous ‘Hello Boys’ advertising campaign for a certain lingerie manufacturer, back in 1994. When the giant billboards of an attractive model in her underwear were unveiled, they sparked a sensation and were blamed for stopping traffic and causing accidents as motorists and pedestrians stared up at them.
Today, sex is everywhere. If we open a newspaper or switch on the TV we’re bombarded with sexual imagery, and there are countless magazines that devote page after page to it. The advertising industry is particularly adept at using sex to grab our attention. Sex has the power to captivate us, and it holds our focus like nothing else. It’s also highly addictive.
If you were to ask the average person how they’d feel about the chance to have lots of sex on a daily basis, you’d probably get a fairly enthusiastic reaction, particularly from men. After all, sex is something that nature has programmed us to enjoy, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s the reason we’re on the planet. Our primary driving force, as a species, is to procreate, and judging from the population explosion over the last few generations, it’s something that we’re rather good at.
The obvious question that many people might ask, therefore, is whether sex addiction is a curse or a delight? Well, one thing that I’m certain of is that sex addiction is one of the most painful places a person can be
Sex is very mood-altering – and like all things that can change the way we feel, it has the potential to become a compulsion that we find hard to control.
When we make love there are a number of physiological changes that take place in the brain that give us a strong buzz. There’s a build up of adrenaline and excitement during the initial phase – it’s a proactive high that makes us feel switched-on and alive.
This is followed by a release of endorphins in the brain during orgasm, the effect of which is to make us feel warm and contented. Nature has deliberately made sex a pleasurable experience so we want to keep coming back for more.
For the majority of the population this doesn’t necessarily cause too many problems. Most people hopefully manage to strike a healthy balance between having sex and getting on with the rest of their lives. The thing that makes sex potentially problematic for those with an addictive nature, is that the buzz that it creates can be misused as a distraction from life’s problems
If we’re feeling low or insecure, the temporary respite that sex provides can feel very seductive. The feelings of intense physical pleasure that it creates can seem like the perfect antidote for anxiety and low self-esteem. Afterwards we feel relieved and relaxed – at least that’s the hope! Unfortunately, these benefits are usually very temporary, which means that if we have an addictive nature it can leave us constantly craving more
The Bible teaches us that certain sexual scenarios are sinful, and this is something that’s echoed across many religions. The story of Adam and Eve being corrupted in the Garden of Eden is a very powerful metaphor for the contradictory manner in which we regard sex. On the one hand we regard sex as something wonderful, and we celebrate the act of procreation, but on another level we think of it as sinful and naughty
Through my work, I’ve met people who are obsessed with sex. Their hunt for it becomes an all-consuming compulsion, but the moment they get it and achieve orgasm, the whole process starts again. Whatever it is they’re seeking to fix through sex, they need to immediately fix it all over again
Eventually, unwelcome consequences begin to set in – and these can be very extreme when it comes to the compulsive behaviours that surround sex. I know men who’ve given their partners sexually transmitted diseases, which they’ve caught while cheating on them. The guilt and shame this makes them feel is almost unimaginable, although when they’re in the height of their addiction they’re so ashamed that they’ll deny they’re responsible until they’re blue in the face.
By the time a sex addict seeks help, their life can be in tatters. Very often they’ve encountered problems in the workplace as well as at home. This can be due to a lack of focus because they’re always obsessing about sex, or it might be because they’ve made an unwanted pass at someone
Of course, not every addict has issues around sex – and nor are all people who enjoy an active sex life addicted. So how can you tell if you’re likely to develop certain issues or problems around sex? Well, just like other forms of addiction, a lot depends on the effect that the process has on your feelings. There’s nothing shameful or dirty about having a lot of healthy sex – and that includes heterosexual or homosexual sex, or masturbation
However, what does matter is the reason you crave sex, and the consequences of it. If you find yourself masturbating in private because you’re feeling horny, that’s a normal thing to do. But if you’re doing it because, deep down, you’re sick with worry or feeling stressed, then that’s not so healthy
When the initial rush of a new relationship passes, the benefits soon wear off and they may move on to the next relationship, normally encountering a lot of pain and anxiety along the way. Fortunately, there are a number of very good self-help groups that can provide assistance, many of them for free.
To read more go to Amazon to order your copy or contact us directly at ONE40 at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is David’s Twitter Handle: @DSmallwoodMSC Facebook Page link:https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Smallwood/747815968591931?ref=