Sexual addiction, compulsive sexuality, cyber-sex addiction are all out of the closet now. At our school, we have been using the 12-steps for more than 20 years to help students with this problem. Not caring if the issue is best classified as an “addiction” or as another aspect of obsessive compulsive disorder, it just made sense to us, that anything that feels as good as sex does has the potential to make your life unmanageable.
Turns out this hunch supported by the latest in neuroscience and psychology.
Orgasms,cocaine and amphetamines, impact that same receptors and neurotransmitters. And, research shows that the younger you are when you first try drugs and alcohol, the more likely you are to develop dependency.
Psychologists who study human sexuality note that, like Conrad Lorenz’s geese, humans have critical developmental periods where they develop life-long responses. Some of this imprinting occurs in early childhood. If you have a good relationship with your parents, you are likely to be attracted to similar looking people.
A lot of this imprinting takes place as we discover sexual pleasure. Then, chance associations, traumatic experiences, objects, adolescent experimentation may set patterns we carry for life. While many people get away with those experimental incursions into the worlds of porn, many of us end up in serious trouble.
Addicted or dependent on pornography, aroused by objects or rituals, we find it difficult if not impossible to form meaningful and fulfilling sexual relationships with other people.
Nobody is saying that every teen who experiments with pornography is going to have trouble. But for certain populations of teens, already at risk, the risk of trouble is higher. Sex addiction is associated with early childhood trauma, and with all the factors that predispose a person to OCD. You often will find people who have sex addiction, have other addictions or may be classified with a personality disorder.
Our understanding of the relationship between the brain and sex addiction will continue to develop and as it does, I will continue to refine what I teach to my students but the basick outline will remain the same. Cyber-sex and pornography are nothing to fool around with and that the 12-step model can be used for this problem too.