Tell me a little bit about sex addiction.
Charlene: I think sex addiction goes under-reported. Probably the primary reason is because of all of the shame and the taboo that's attached to it and I think by far a lot of individuals suffer silently from sex addiction.
We have to remember that with sex addiction the primary relationship is with sex and the relationships. Like alcoholism or drug addiction, there is a loss of control. There is continued use despite consequences. There's criteria such as preoccupation with sexual thoughts or spending a lot of time on either recovering from the activity or trying to engage in the activity. There's an inability to resist impulses to engage in the sexual activity.
When an individual has this urge to engage and they're trying to resist and they can't and they do it, it creates a shame cycle where they are preoccupied, they have the ritualization, they act, then they have despair. It leads to unmanageability. It's really just a very complicated cycle.
They engage in behaviors to a greater extent or over a longer amount of time then they wish to. There is something called the dry syndrome which in AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, they use the dry drunk syndrome. Sex addicts experience it also which is discontent, restless, irritable if they can't engage in it for whatever reason.
There is also anxiety that comes with it and from it. When an individual attempts to stop they'll feel a lot of these dry symptoms and anxiety.
They engage in behaviors at the expense of other obligations like family, work, children, gym. Basically its, "I'm going to go home and spend time with my family" or "I'm going to go and do school work" and I don't. I end up going and acting out on porn, massage parlors.
There is also a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to stop.
So these are just some of the criteria that would define sex addiction.