When people think of sex addiction, they think of men like Tiger Woods and David Duchovny who got caught barreling headfirst down the hedonistic rabbit hole. The Frisky: 10 Notorious Celebrity Sex Addicts
But I am a female sex addict in the truest sense of the term. Thanks to sketchy DNA (I've also struggled with alcoholism and cocaine addiction) and sexually traumatic experiences in early adolescence, I learned to self-medicate painful emotions with sex.
I became dependent on the chemicals created by my own body during lust—a dopamine hit that could be had by engaging in sexual behaviors that had to get constantly riskier to create the same high.
This addiction took me to sex clubs and swingers' parties where I blindly worked my way through man after man. It led me to post thousands of ads on Craigslist seeking anonymous sex with men whose looks and details mattered less than availability. The Frisky: I'm a Recovering Sex Addict
It drove me to experiment with group sex, sadomasochism, prostitution, and exhibitionism, each situation more dangerous and thrilling than the last, until arousal became synonymous with a kind of dizzying fear and shame. It led me to sell my body for money I didn't need, cheating, lying, and breaking every value I ever held in the process.
This went on for five or six years. I somehow maintained good jobs and a long-term boyfriend, leading a double life in which everything appeared fine on the surface. Occasionally, the guilt and shame would grow so great I would be able to refrain from these behaviors for a period of weeks or months at a time. But I was always driven back into the night, seeking the encounter or the person who would finally fill the emotional hole inside of me. The Frisky: Rant–I Don't Believe Sex Addiction is Just the Male Libido
I reached my bottom in one rough week in which I allowed a man I barely knew to take X-rated photos of me and another man to blackmail me into giving him oral sex midday in a bush in Central Park. I realized for the first time that if I continued this way, I was going to end up losing my job and partner at the very least, and more likely end up dead from homicide, suicide, or disease.
I called a therapist who specialized in sex addiction, dissolving into tears at the understanding voice on the phone. Since I couldn't afford to go to rehab, he suggested an intensive outpatient program which included individual and group therapy and participation in a 12-step program for sex addiction.
I was no stranger to 12-step programs (see alcoholism, cocaine addiction), and had even attended a few sex-addiction meetings before, but was always too intimidated to return when I found myself the only woman in the room. This time, however, I had the gift of desperation, which allowed me to dive into recovery, despite the all-male environments I encountered every step of the way.