Sex Addiction — Family and Friends

Support the most important people in your life

It’s the elephant in the room. Your family member or friend has been acting distant, indifferent, and not open to discussing what’s wrong. There’s a heaviness.

Perhaps whispers of some form of addiction have been shared. There are signs that may include financial hardships, drastic mood changes, and employment issues. You’re looking for help, however, other family and friends are either enabling your loved one or distancing themselves. You feel isolated.

photo of a father with sex addiction

Before you get to the heart of the matter with direct, mindful communication—you need an effective, empathetic plan. Review our resources and give us a call if you’d like to speak with counselors who have helped thousands recover from sex addiction.

How to Help a Sex Addict Family Member

If you’re reading this, your family member’s sexual addiction and compulsive behaviors are likely impacting more than just the individual acting out. 

Your loved one will need the support of those who care about him/her. The more people who are impacted by the consequences of your loved one’s behavior, the more likely they will seek help. While not everyone is an information and counsel seeker like you, each family member has a unique role to play in your loved one’s recovery. The support plan should include outreach that encourages supportive others to  reach out to the loved one with greetings and well wishes—no more, no less.

For more specific, pre-therapy recommendations, please check out our Resources page and reach out to us for an initial consultation.

Knowing someone who is addicted to sex effects everyone in a unique way. Some people can manage it casually, while others may take it harder and suffer from depression, hopelessness and apathy, or substance abuse.

photo of a friend battling sex addiction

You're Not Alone

You're Not Alone

We provide information on support groups on our Resources page. Learn more there, or reach out to us for guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

It depends on each unique family and friends, but for the most part, yes. When someone is struggling with a sex addiction, they’ll likely not themselves. They’ll be distant, emotional, and possibly be engaging in activities that are dangerous to their health. All of this can take an equally devastating toll on the sex addict’s family and friends. This is why we recommend that family and friends of a sex addict should also seek counseling, especially if they’re highly invested in the relationship, and experiencing such things as depression or self-blame.

While some addictions can be linked to one’s genetic predisposition, the consensus is still mixed when it comes to sex addiction. Most research points to a person’s genetic predisposition toward compulsive behaviors, depression, and anxiety that can be underlying precursors to addiction. 

For those who see that sex addiction is genetic, they point to underlying chemical irregularities that are passed down from one generation to another, such as oxytocin regulation (not to be confused with the drug oxycontin). Another condition that can be linked to sexual addiction is high levels of hormones, however, it’s more an influential factor to people already predisposed to compulsive behavior.

Similarly, it can also be a learned pattern of coping behavior. For example, if you saw a family member cope with stress in a certain way growing up, say smoking cigarettes, you are more likely to adopt smoking as a coping behavior, since it is familiar and endorsed by family. Therefore, if you stumbled onto your dad’s or brother’s porn magazines or web search history you may adopt similar styles of coping.  

As part of therapy, we’ll dive deep into your family history to build insight into your unique journey.

There is research that shows sex addicts are more likely to have suffered abuse or neglect at an early age. Our friend Patrick Carnes, PhD, found that 85% of sex addicts have suffered from physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect before their18th birthday. The family structure that often produces sex addicts are known to have high standards for their children yet are “disengaged” – like ships passing in the night. The family requires high standards to be met, but aren’t invested in teaching the child how to meet their goals. This can leave children scrambling to “figure it out on their own” which can lead to using observed negative coping skills as means to mediate the anxiety of the unknown standards. This is another reason why sex addicts need to be approached with compassion and empathy, and willingness to understanding.