Sex Rehabilitation
What Sex Addiction Treatment Entails
and How to Get Help

Sex addiction is a behavioural disorder that can have negative consequences for your physical and emotional health, while causing additional complications in your social life and personal relationships. Many people around the world struggle with sex addiction, yet the destructive behavioural patterns it creates are difficult to escape. Sex rehabilitation promises a way forward, by providing intensive evidence-based treatment that addresses both addictive behaviours and the addictive process. Depending on your specific circumstances, rehab for sex addiction may offer a way to bring balance back to your life for the long-term.

Sex rehab and the goal of sex addiction treatment

Effective sex addiction rehab is about more than just altering your own sexual behaviour, and it need not involve total abstinence as a goal. Instead, treatment and recovery are about giving you the tools you need to understand, and successfully manage, your addictive patterns. Effective treatment includes relapse prevention planning, cognitive behavioural therapy, individual psychotherapy, therapeutic group session, and medication among others. Only through this process of healing and development can you move your life forward to a place of peace and greater harmony.
Sex addiction is often accompanied by co-morbid mental health issues, substance addictions, or other types of behavioural disorders. Rehabilitation from sex addiction therefore often means addressing every aspect of your life – your mind, body, and spirit – to re-establish a healthy relationship with the world around you.

What is sexual addiction and what causes it?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction in the following way:

“Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.”

There are several reasons why a person may become addicted to sex. Past sexual abuse or trauma are often contributing factors, while addiction to other substances such as drugs and alcohol may also play a role. A CNN health report found that as many as 80% of sex addicts had experienced sexual abuse or emotional trauma in the past.

Mental health and sex addiction

Drugs and alcohol often accompany the behaviour of sex addicts. Substances can be used to moderate negative emotions, or escape the reality of dangerous sexual situations.
Research shows that many people who develop a sex addiction will choose this kind of repetitive behaviour as a way of coping with anxiety, low self-esteem or depression – which is why it’s important to get a thorough diagnosis before beginning any treatment. The most effective sex addiction treatment will identify and address underlying mental health and substance abuse issues, alongside the sex addiction itself. Only through such a comprehensive approach can you receive the best chance at a lasting recovery.
Effective sex rehab will facilitate the following co-occurring conditions:

Signs and symptoms of sex addiction

As with other addictions, sex addiction is marked by an unwillingness or inability to stop participating in a behaviour, even when that behaviour is known to have negative consequences. Signs of sex addiction typically include:
  • Frequent one-night stands
  • A large number of sexual partners
  • Taking part in regular unsafe sex
  • Feeling guilt and shame after sexual activities
  • Unable to resist the temptation of engaging in compulsive sexual activity
  • Obsessive thoughts about sexual activities and fantasies
  • Lying in order to hide sexual behaviors
If you are struggling to maintain healthy relationships or are sexually acting out, you may benefit from intensive outpatient programme or inpatient sex rehab.
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Sex addiction rehab: inpatient vs outpatient

As with any addiction, getting effective treatment is about treating the symptoms as well as the root causes. Various forms of behavioural therapy are known to be effective in this area, as they use evidence-based psychological methods to help you regain control of your mindset and your decision-making process. Therapy sessions can be delivered on either an inpatient or outpatient basis.

Inpatient rehab

Inpatient therapy involves removing yourself from environments where you are likely to be tempted to take part in your addictive behaviour. By taking up residence at a specialised treatment facility, you’ll receive 24-hour emotional and mental support from a team of sex addiction experts. This form of treatment is particularly well suited to those who suffer from a moderate to severe addiction, encounter a level of temptation during their day-to-day life that is difficult to resist, lack an adequate social support network, or have no pressing social, familial, or work-related responsibilities.

Outpatient rehab

As with inpatient care, outpatient sex rehab offers the opportunity to replace old behavioural patterns with new positive ones through counselling and therapy sessions. Outpatient care likewise provides a confidential and non-judgmental space to work through issues relating to your sex addiction. The main difference is that this care is delivered via scheduled sessions without any residential component. As an outpatient client, you’ll need to take additional personal responsibility to ensure that you adhere to abstinence, even during your period of treatment.
As such, outpatient treatment programmes are generally aimed at those with a mild addiction, a good home environment with social support, relatively little day-to-day temptation to engage in addictive sexual behaviour, and pre-existing personal commitments.

How sex rehab works

Sex rehab uses a variety of psychosocial approaches to increase your ability to practise self-control and positive thinking, while maintaining a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. Effective treatment programme should involve one-on-one and group therapy sessions. Among the most effective approaches are:

Various forms of behavioural therapy such as CBT, DBT, and psychodynamic psychotherapy, have shown effectiveness in helping sex addicts achieve a healthy psychological state. The focus is on helping addicts to identify primary triggers and beliefs about their sex addiction and to develop coping skills to manage urges and deal with the preoccupation of sexual thoughts and behaviours.

Other modalities put a greater emphasis on collective healing. For example, family and couples therapy brings together addicts and their loved ones, helping them develop an environment of understanding, restoring trust, and establishing a healthy sexual relationship between partners

Dual diagnosis treatment takes this addiction-specific therapeutic focus and combines it with the wider goal of addressing relevant mental health issues at the same time. Underlying mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, past trauma, or other psychological disorders may form the root cause of your sex addiction, and your compulsive sexual behaviours merely represent a coping mechanism.

In such case, dual diagnosis treatment will identify and address the deeper issues, in addition to you sex addiction, relieving the pressure that contributes compulsive behaviour in the first place.

12-Step recovery models adapted from the techniques used in Alcoholics Anonymous will help sex addicts develop healthy patterns of loving and relating to others. A period of abstinence from sexual behaviour is often required. Upon completion of treatment, addicts are encouraged to participate in 12-step programmes such as Sexual Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, and Sexaholics Anonymous. These fellowship groups provide a place for peer advice, support, structure, and accountability to empower addicts on their journey to recovery.

Experiential and alternative therapies may include a number of other approaches, including participation in visual arts and drama, music therapy, animal therapy, or a holistic approach that includes nutritional enhancements while encouraging exposure to the natural world. As every person has different specific needs, there are a multitude of treatment programmes for sex addiction that may be effective for different people and situations.

What happens in a sex rehab centre?

The long-term goal of your sex addiction treatment will not be pure abstinence, but rather to live a balanced life that includes healthy sexual behaviour. However, you will still be expected to abstain from any sexual activity during your time in rehab.

Your sex addiction rehabilitation will include a comprehensive assessment that reviews your physical and mental health, patterns of sexual behaviour, any past trauma or abuse, as well as addiction to substances. Please note that any additional addiction to drugs or alcohol may require you to undergo a period of detox, which may be completed onsite or elsewhere depending on the centre. Moreover, if co-occurring mental health conditions are diagnosed, such as anxiety or depression, medication may be prescribed by doctors as part of your treatment programme.

One-on-one, as well as group counselling sessions, will take place, and will typically include treatment techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectic behaviour therapy (DBT). These are aimed at helping you uncover the reasons behind your compulsive behaviour, and learn to cultivate positive thought patterns in their place.

Other forms of complementary therapy may also be involved, including couple’s counselling or marriage counselling to improve communication, establish trust, and build a healthier connection between partners. The over-arching aim of sex addiction rehab is to empower you to make better decisions for yourself when you return home.

Upon completing primary treatment, an aftercare programme may also be included to help you overcome triggers and avoid relapse. To ensure that you maintain your recovery after rehab, clients are often encouraged to join a support group or attend additional outpatient counselling, especially early in recovery.

How long is rehab for sex addiction treatment?

The average inpatient sex addiction treatment programme lasts 30 days. If you are diagnosed with more than one addiction – or an accompanying mental health condition – the rehab process may take 60 or even 90 days. A similar extension may be necessary if you have suffered from a major trauma incident and require extensive therapy to move forward. Research shows that the longer you stay in rehab, the less likely you are to relapse.

How much does sex rehab cost?

There are plenty of options when it comes to sex rehab, depending on your budget. In countries like the UK, Australia and the USA, you will typically pay between $8,000 and $30,000 for a standard 30-day programme. Luxury rehab will set you back between $40,000 and $100,000 for the same time period. These high costs are a key reason why many people choose to travel abroad for rehab.
Rehab facilities in Thailand offer the same quality treatment, with internationally trained addiction experts, at a fraction of the cost of similar programmes in other countries.
businessman in airport and airplane in sky

Private Sex addiction treatment in Thailand

The best way to ensure long-term successful recovery is to dive into the core of your addiction and create an integrated treatment programme that brings balance to all areas of your life. Thailand’s rehab facilities often bring decades of experience in addiction recovery, applying best treatment practices within safe environments that are free from triggers and temptations.
Many of Thailand’s private treatment centres offer:

  • Individual and group therapy sessions
  • Evidence-based techniques such as CBT, DBT, MBCT etc.
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Spa and massage therapy
  • Cultural activities and excursions
  • A secular 12-step recovery model
  • And local 12-step meetings offsite

Undergoing sex addiction treatment in Thailand also allows you to recover in complete confidentiality, while also experiencing the many benefits of travelling in this warm and beautiful country. If you are ready to get help for your sex addiction, contact us today to schedule a private consultation.

Author
Cameron Brown
Psychologist
  • “Definition of Addiction.” ASAM , American Society of Addiction Medicine, www.asam.org/resources/definition-of-addiction. 
  • Voon V, Mole TB, Banca P, Porter L, Morris L, Mitchell S, et al. (2014) Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours. PLoS ONE 9(7): e102419.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0102419
  • Landau, Elizabeth. “When Sex Becomes an Addiction.” CNN, Cable News Network, edition.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/09/05/sex.addiction/index.htm
  • Fong, Timothy W. “Understanding and managing compulsive sexual behaviors.” Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)) vol. 3,11 (2006): 51-8. 
  • NIDA. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 17 Jan. 2018, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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