I. The Basic of Sexual Addiction Rehabilitation

This guide was written to provide an overview of the sexual addiction rehabilitation process, as well as to offer helpful resources for persons recovering from sexual addiction.

Treatment facilities provide hypersexual individuals with a safe, private place to confront their addiction. Intake usually begins with a comprehensive assessment that looks at past history of sexual trauma and types of substance abuse. Other common intake procedures include:

  • Physical exam
  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Spiritual assessment
  • Relationship reviews

Some clinics may use pharmaceuticals to help in the treatment of sexual addiction. However, the most commonly approved solutions are types of therapy, specifically Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Motivational Enhancement Therapy. Integrated 12-step programs and outpatient support groups help prevent relapse in successfully treated clients.

What Makes Sexual Addiction Difficult?

Unlike cigarette smoking or substance abuse, sex addicts may still want to continue sexual activities, just not abusive or harmful ones. Similar to food addiction, it’s sometimes much harder to occasionally indulge within limits than to quit completely.

Additionally, sexual images continue to bombard recovered addicts through music videos, movies, and television. Pornography is rampant throughout the internet, and it’s easy to fall back into old habits at the click of a button.

The Unique Struggle of Sex Addicts
Sexual Addiction…
  • may be accompanied by feelings of shame, making self-disclosure more challenging
  • often requires sessions discussing past childhood trauma, an unwelcome exercise
  • may cause psychological disturbances upon cessation
  • can be accompanied by other types of addiction, including alcohol and drug abuse

Sexual Addiction and Mental Health Rehabilitation Statistics

Mental Health Treatment and Counseling by Gender

17.8% Female
10.3% Male

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimated in 2015:

  • 33,656 individuals over the age of 18 were diagnosed with a non-serious mental illness (13.9% of the population)
  • 33,243 individuals over the age of 18 received counseling for mental health issues (14.2% of the population)

Of the individuals who received counseling, 4,044 were between the ages of 18 and 25

According to a SAMHSA’s 2015 Survey on Drug Use and Health, women are considerably more likely to seek treatment for mental health disorders. The gender breakdown of treatment and counseling for mental issues was 17.8%  female and 10.3% male. While mental health disorders occur in a variety of age groups, the most common age group that received treatment and/or counseling was individuals aged 26 to 49.

Mental Health Treatment Admissions Percentages by Age Group, 2017
Age at the Time of Treatment AdmissionPercentage of Mental Health Treatment Admissions
18-251.4%
26-490.9%
50 or older0.8%

II. Sexual Addiction Withdrawal Process

Should sex addicts also have a co-occurring addiction to a substance such as alcohol or drugs, detoxification will need to take place. For those who come to treatment solely for sexual addiction, the sudden cessation of sexual activities may cause uncomfortable urges and cravings. Keeping the mind occupied by engaging in exercise and relaxation therapy can help.

Withdrawal Symptoms

BodyMind
Short-Term SymptomsRestlessness
Increased appetite
Increased sexual drive
Increased use of cigarettes
Irritability
Agitation

Source: Blum, Kenneth, et al. “Hypersexuality Addiction and Withdrawal: Phenomenology, Neurogenetics and Epigenetics” Cureus, 27 July 2015

For more information about withdrawal, read our guide on Sexual Addiction

III. Treatment for Sexual Addiction

The FDA has not approved any compulsive sexual behavior medications, but trials involving several classes of medicines are ongoing. Although there have been some positive results using pharmaceutical and surgical treatments for sexual addiction, behavioral therapies are the most commonly used methods of achieving recovery.

Inpatient and outpatient counseling, which involves individual and group support, is the main source of sexual addiction treatment. Gender-specific programs enable individuals to feel comfortable during self-disclosure, and rehab facilities stress confidentiality and anonymity.

Rehabilitation Settings

Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, treatments such as behavioral therapies and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.

Inpatient treatment involves living full-time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period of time. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.

Sexual Addiction Treatment Programs
SettingType of TreatmentDescriptionDurationTime Commitment
InpatientShort-Term ResidentialIntensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.14-30 daysHours Per Day:
24
Days Per Week:
7
Long-Term ResidentialIntensive treatment in a non-hospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.3-12 monthsHours Per Day:
24
Days Per Week:
7
Partial HospitalizationIntensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.14-30 daysHours Per Day:
6-8
Days Per Week:
5
OutpatientIntensive Day TreatmentExtensive services of an inpatient program but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.3-4 monthsHours Per Day:
2-4
Days Per Week:
3
CounselingBoth individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available.As long as desiredHours Per Day:
1-2
Days Per Week:
1-3
Support GroupsSelf-help groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours.As long as desiredHours Per Day:
1-2
Days Per Week:
1

Medication-Assisted Therapies

Classes of medications that have been investigated for sexual addiction include the following:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) may help decrease sexual cravings.
  • Opiate antagonists (naltrexone) help block the euphoria associated with sexual acts.
  • Mood stabilizers can help reduce sexual cravings in individuals with comorbid bipolar disorder.
  • Anti-androgens can lower testosterone levels on a temporary basis.

More research needs to be implemented before any of these medications can be pointed to as a solution for sexual addiction. Medications are usually more beneficial when there is a comorbid mental health issue along with the sexual addiction. In very rare cases, surgical castration may be used for violent sexual predators.

Behavioral-Assisted Therapies

Behavioral therapies are the mainstream approach to handling sexual addiction. The goal of any therapy session is to identify triggers that fuel the sexual urges, come up with healthier choices to deal with those triggers, and develop coping skills when urges become too much to handle.

Therapy sessions can be individual or group and take place in residential rehab centers, outpatient programs, or support groups. Addicts who are in a relationship can also benefit from couples therapy and counseling techniques.

Behavioral Therapies for Sexual Addiction
Type of Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

 

Further reading:

Definition

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps individuals focus on their beliefs and identify false or distressing thought patterns.

CBT is problem-orientated and aims to help the addict move forward with their life by creating workable solutions to their everyday sexual urges.

Motivation Enhancement Therapy

 

Further reading:

Motivation Enhancement Therapy (MET) seeks to positively reinforce less-risky sexual behaviors with self-motivating statements developed by the addict. These may concern limited internet pornography viewing and avoidance of strip and hook-up clubs.

 

MET is greatly beneficial when combined with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, encouraging healthy behaviors and counseling attendance.

Psychodynamic Therapy

 

Further reading:

One of the oldest forms of therapy, dating back to psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy looks at the addict’s behavior from an unconscious angle.

 

This treatment method involves dissecting past relationships and trauma to see if there is a link between the addiction and unresolved conflicts. It works best when combined in a rehab program with other methods.

12-Step Facilitation Therapy

 

Further reading:

12-Step Facilitation Therapy is often used as a relapse prevention strategy. It follows the guidelines of traditional 12-step self-help programs.

 

Many organizations offer a sexual addiction-specific 12-step program. Classes are free and they give sex addicts a place to find nonjudgmental support along with fellowship and accountability.

IV. How to Find Help

Finding a Rehabilitation Center for Sexual Addiction

Recovering from sexual addiction requires a place where addicts can feel comfortable discussing their problems and embracing solutions. Many want a guarantee of anonymity and expect their conversations and personal information to be kept confidential. Staff members who are caring, nonjudgmental, and above all knowledgeable about sexual addiction are paramount.

Rehab centers use different types of therapy in different combinations. Individuals may want to look over the program curriculum and the dynamics of group or individual counseling before committing. Depending on their needs, hypersexual individuals may look for residential vs. outpatient types of settings, and to avoid relapse, a quality, accountable after-care program is crucial.

Lastly, the added services that a center provides can significantly enhance the whole rehab experience. Classes in art and music can help sex addicts stay occupied. Additionally, exercise opportunities and mindfulness meditation help keep the body and mind in harmony while the individual works on creating new thought and habit patterns.

Our Directory

Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.