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Compulsively Fantasizing About Sex

answered 07:06 PM EST, Thu July 21, 2011
How can I have a normal life in recovery from sex addiction when so many ‘normal’ things in life are triggers that can lead to my acting out?

I am a 38 year old gay man and have been a sex addict for as long as I can remember, but only started calling what I am and how I act sex addiction about a year ago, after things became too painfully clear and with the help of some therapy.

Anyway, I am currently trying to maintain celibacy as a stage of recovery. I hope to one day have an emotionally connected relationship but I don’t think I am quite there yet. I just can’t seem to resist temptation. My therapist told me that I should try to stay away from things that got me thinking about acting out, but how can I do that when things like smelling some guy’s cologne on the bus, or seeing a magazine ad for deodorant or heaven forbid, going to the gym can leave me compulsively fantasizing for hours, almost to the point that if I don’t act out on my fantasies I can’t even function normally at work, that’s how bad it is.

So what do I do? I am trying so hard to get a handle on this, but at this point it seems like my two alternatives in life are either to become a total hermit and avoid any contact with humanity, or to continue on as I was, which wasn’t so hot either.

Rob Weiss Says...

First, know that you are not alone in your struggle – we believe in the power of recovery and healing and have seen people do it – here are some thoughts about your specific situation.

First, you didn’t mention 12-step participation. People do better who are in involved in a daily observation and interaction with sexual recovery groups. Do you have a sponsor? 12-step work doesn’t guarantee success, but this is not the kind of disorder you can handle alone or just with the help of a therapist. You clearly need more.

Second, because of degree of obsessive thinking, has medication been discussed with your therapist? Many times, antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can serve the dual function of reducing sexual drive and obsession as well as reduce impulsive behavior (they help people to stop and think before acting).

Third, group treatment/therapy is the preferred method for any addiction treatment. Are you in any form of group therapy or can you find a therapy group specific to sexual addiction in your area?

If you have been extensively involved in 12-step work, have a sponsor, are in group therapy – basically all the above - and you’re still struggling, it might be time to consider a higher level of care. Perhaps there is trauma in your background or some other unresolved issues that require more intensive therapy in a residential treatment environment. 

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Page last updated Jul 21, 2011

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Rob Weiss - LCSW, CSAT-S
Clinical Social Worker/Therapist Sexual Recovery Institute
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