Posted on: February 14, 2020 | Julie Rael, LCSW, CCO Valley Behavioral Health Most healthy adults enjoy sexual activity. The physical and emotional rewards of sex are unparalleled. As enjoyable as it is, the drive for sex is usually tempered by other needs and responsibilities in life. For people with sex addiction, however, the desire for sexual activity becomes a compulsion that is driven by obsessive thoughts and urges. Sex addiction is defined by behaviors and urges involving sexual activity that is excessive and impacts one’s life negatively. During the process of sexual attraction, an array of hormones are released within the brain. These hormones, notably testosterone, estrogen, dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin play a key role in the addiction process for people with sex addiction. Much like any addictive process, sex addiction is defined by a pattern of excess that has negative implications on the life of the person afflicted and their relationships. Sex is a natural desire for most people, however, if this becomes impulsive and affects your daily life and relationship, it may be time to reach out to a professional. Learn More About Our Addiction Treatment Center Potential Causes Of Sex Addiction While there isn’t a singular cause of sex addiction, there can be many contributing factors that impact one’s likelihood of struggling with this condition. Difficulty managing emotions and a pattern of using sexual behaviors as a form of self-medication are common causes, as well as childhood abuse or inappropriate exposure to sex at a young age. In addition to these potential factors, some people are simply more prone to addiction than others. Whether it is the addiction to alcohol, drugs, or behavioral addictions such as gambling or sex, the propensity for addiction starts within the brain and is often a genetic predisposition. Genetics don’t necessarily predict one’s path in life, but if there is a family history of addiction, coupled with access and exposure, it can increase the odds. Sex Addiction Warning Signs People who may be wondering ‘Am I a sex addict?’ can review some of these sex addiction warning signs. Excessive masturbation High-risk sexual behaviors Unsafe sexual practices Impulsive pornography use Prostitution Extramarital affairs Molestation Exhibition behaviors Voyeurism Masochistic behaviors or sadism In addition to these behaviors, sexual addiction and compulsion is usually coupled with obsessive thoughts and urges that interrupt one’s daily functioning. People who struggle with this condition spend a lot of time and mental energy on sexual fantasy and often feel a loss of control over their thoughts which brings distress. Sex addiction also brings with it feelings of guilt, shame and fear, which can become a part of the process that feeds the addiction. Impact Of Sex Addiction The impact of sex addiction can be devastating for the individual struggling with it as well as their loved ones. Common challenges that people with sex addiction face include: Venereal disease: Men with sex addiction have a venereal disease at a rate of 38%, and women with sex addiction have venereal addiction at a rate of 45%1. Unwanted pregnancy: Around 70% of women with sex addiction have had an unwanted pregnancy. Relationship problems: People struggling with sex addiction often experience challenges with monogamous relationships. Infidelity is common for people with sex addiction, which impacts relationship health. Treatment Options For Sex Addiction Sex addiction is a treatable condition. There are treatment options available that can meet the needs of adult and teen sex addicts who are at risk of harm as a result of this mental health challenge. If you are wondering how to help a sex addict or someone you know who may be struggling with obsessive of compulsive sexual thoughts, help is available. Our therapists at Highland Springs Clinic offer a variety of treatment options for sex addiction as well as other forms of addiction that impact people’s lives. Highland Springs Clinic uses evidence-based practices and adheres strictly to laws of confidentiality so that people in the program can focus on healing. Highland Springs is proud of our many treatment modalities to help people with addiction recover and rebuild their lives. State of the art treatments such as DTMS therapy offers a non-invasive option that has shown direct results for people with addiction challenges. Treatments modalities such as EMDR can help reduce symptoms related to traumatic life events to reduce suffering. Highland uses DBT and CBT treatment modalities in individual and group settings to help aid the recovery process. As healing begins, the inclusion of loved ones for family therapy will help create a well-rounded treatment experience. Highland Springs understands addiction and specializes in treatments that change lives. Don’t suffer with your sex addiction on your own, reach out to access compassionate and professional care today. Contact A Therapist Julie Rael, LCSW, CCO Valley Behavioral HealthMs. Rael earned her Bachelor’s degree in psychology and her Master’s degree in social work with a substance use treatment certificate at the University of Utah. She began working at Valley in 2005 and is a licensed clinical social worker. Prior to obtaining her Master’s degree, she worked as a case manager in a homeless shelter connecting individuals to occupational and housing resources and as a social service worker teaching vocational and psycho-educational skills to youth, refugees, and adults with mental health and substance use difficulties. Ms. Rael enjoyed seeing the participants gain more skills and the confidence to move on to employment and further education. After completing her Master’s degree, she worked as a therapist providing individual and group psychotherapy with individuals with substance use and mental health difficulties. After obtaining her LCSW license, she transitioned to a team lead position that provided intense community treatment and outreach services for individuals needing more than traditional outpatient services. Ms. Rael went on to manage and further develop programing for two behavioral health clinics with multidisciplinary treatment teams. She has worked as Field Instructor training and supervising MSW interns for the University of Utah’s Social Work department for the past six years. Ms. Rael was promoted to a Director of Adult Mental Health services in 2017, and then began providing oversight of Valley’s Forensics clinic in 2018. She has also served as a board member and volunteer for a local non-profit that provides individuals the training and support needed to obtain meaningful employment after incarceration and recovery from substance use difficulties. Ms. Rael believes that evidenced-based treatments, collaboration with health care providers, and connecting individuals to recovery support programs are essential factors in obtaining effective treatment outcomes. She is passionate about working alongside individuals to discover their unique strengths, grow and continue to progress in becoming their personal best. In the role of Chief Clinical Officer, Ms. Rael will be working collaboratively with clinical and medical leadership to improve clinical processes, program development and identify those interventions which will best predict clinical success for each of the conditions that we treat. She will be a coach to all Adult and Children’s Clinical Directors and will serve on the Valley Academy team to ensure all Valley Staff feel properly trained and well prepared to bring Valley Behavioral Health’s systems of care to the forefront of our industry.