I get this question quite a bit – Is sex addiction treatable? Can someone be addicted and then be “cured” and not be addicted? Let’s look into this…
Cured is a very black and white word. Is anyone ever cured of anything? There is always a fantasy or a dream or something in our minds that we probably wouldn’t share with others. That’s normal, natural and perfectly OK. It’s when we act on those fantasies that aren’t aligned with our values or our family values that we get into trouble. So to say someone is “cured” is a difficult thing to define.
Often a spouse will say their addicted partner is cured when he or she is no longer acting out. That may mean no more pornography, no masturbation, or no sex outside the relationship. If that’s your definition of cured, sex addiction is absolutely treatable and curable. I have several clients who have realized “sobriety” through a similar definition.
But that’s not the only definition. I let my clients decide what is acceptable as “in recovery.” That doesn’t mean that the addict gets to continue acting out. It means that recovery is different for different people in different situations. Sometimes masturbation is acceptable to a spouse. (Not compulsively and multiple times a day or in public places or at work, etc. There are limits.) Sometimes spouses are comfortable with “slips” such as when an addict views porn for a few minutes, then has the realization that they’re acting out and they stop.
The bottom line is this: Treatment of Sex Addiction is an understood and well-troden path. A therapist trained as a CSAT, for example, will have assessments, plans, tasks, performables, interventions, groups and more at their disposal. These tools, when used appropriately and in the context of an individual client, map a path to recovery.
Can sex addiction be treated successfully? Absolutely. It doesn’t mean a sex addict isn’t triggered. It means they have the skills, tools, knowledge and understanding to avoid relapse and live a life free of compulsive sexual activity.