If you are lost in a constant search for sex or love,you may be struggling with a serious addiction.

We all need love and intimacy to feel whole. But if your search for sexual or romantic attention feels like an overwhelming need, you may be dealing with a dangerous addiction that can threaten your health, relationships and working life.

Mental health experts refer to this obsessive pattern as sex addiction or love addiction. We know that these disorders affect hundreds of thousands of people, and that many suffer tremendous pain as a result.

If you are worried that you someone you know is suffering from sex or love addiction, now is the time to seek out the help you need.


Dr. Marcia Nickow, Psy.D., CADC, CGP discusses the origins of Sex & Love addictions and treatment.


Sex addiction and love addiction are unique disorders, although some people may suffer from both. These examples are not based on real people, but they may give you a sense of what it’s like to live with sex or love addiction and how the two disorders compare to one another.

James is a quiet, intelligent professional who began compulsively masturbating as a young boy, partly to soothe the effects of living with parents who drank far too much. Over time, his childhood ritual turned into sex with strangers. His partner is threatening to leave him and his daily acting out has hurt his career, since he is less and less reliable on the job. He feels shame and self-loathing after each anonymous sexual encounter. He has no idea why he continues to put his health and work at risk, but says he is unable to stop.

Melanie is an attractive executive who ended an early when the sexual intensity cooled. Hooked on the “high” of the chase, she pursues rich, unavailable men who are similar to her rich, unavailable father. She feels sure she will find perfect happiness if she can get one of them to commit to her.

When one of the men she’s involved with becomes fixated on her, Melanie’s sexual interest dies. She moves on to another man, who suddenly seems irresistible to her. She longs to start a family, but can’t seem to form a connection with any man who is ready and willing to make a life with her. Like James, she has no idea why she can’t stop her pattern of destructive behavior and sustain a meaningful relationship.

Both James and Melanie suffered emotional deprivation in childhood. Both have developed rituals to mask the wounds that never healed. While their motivations may be similar, their ways of acting out are different.

James is clearly suffering from sex addiction, which usually involves:

• Constant, all-consuming thoughts about sex
• Continual search for new partners, who are often strangers
• Preoccupation with plans for the next sexual encounter
• Large share of time spent planning sex, having sex or recovering from sex
• Need to increase the intensity, frequency, or risk level of sexual encounters to get the same “high” as before
• Distress, anxiety restlessness, or irritability when you cannot get enough sex

Melanie’s compulsions suggest she is facing love addiction. She follows an emotional pattern that tells potential partners to “come here,” then suddenly, to “go away,” often without explanation. Love addiction symptoms include:

• Unable to stop seeing a specific person, even though you know that person is unavailable or unhealthy for you
• The tendency to “get high” on romance, fantasy or intrigue
• Creating brief romantic relationships as a way of dealing with emotional pain
• Feeling fearful, desperate or uneasy when you are away from your lover

People who suffer from sex or love addiction need specialized treatment to give up their unhealthy attachment to sex and romantic fantasy. Only when they recover from their addictions can they be present in a truly intimate relationship with an available partner.


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Extensive research has confirmed that all addictions are brain-based disorders, as real as any other kind of health problem. This means that sex and love addiction are serious conditions that call for professional treatment.

Even though we do not know exactly what causes sex and love addiction, we do know that:

• People may inherit the tendency to suffer from addictions.

• People who grew up around others who had sex and love addictions — or other process addictions such as exercise addiction, compulsive shopping or binge eating — may also develop addictions.

• People who have suffered trauma such as violence, abuse, serious accidents, assault, rape or war may be more likely to suffer changes in brain function that may lead to sex and love addictions.

• Acute stress such as losing a loved one or surviving a terrible disaster may lead people to focus on one behavior as a coping mechanism. This can lead to sex and love addiction or other addictive behaviors.


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The answer is yes. Millions of people have faced the same issues you are struggling with. Gradually, with the right treatment and support, they have found the strength to recover and rebuild their lives.

The SunCloud Health team has successfully treated thousands of men and women facing many kinds of addictions, including sex and love addiction. We are ready to work with you and your loved ones to help you understand what is happening and embrace the learning process that will help you build a brand new life.

No two people struggling with sex or love addiction are exactly the same. We follow an integrated, highly personalized approach that sees you as a whole individual with a unique life story. The SunCloud Health team will treat you as a full partner in your own care. We will walk the road with you, offering you the therapeutic services and support you need to overcome your addiction.

There are many advantages to receiving care in an outpatient setting. SunCloud Health offers you a range of outpatient options, including intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) at our Chicago and suburban locations.


Contact us now
(866) 729-1012 Or click here to send a secure message.


The SunCloud Health team will begin by developing a full understanding of your addiction and the life circumstances that surround it. We know it is not uncommon for people to deal with more than one issue at the same time – for example, sex addiction and anxiety or depression. If you are dealing with more than one mental health issue, you may have heard the terms dual diagnosis, co-occurring condition or co-morbid condition used to describe your situation.

Once we understand more about your life story and your current needs, our addiction experts will work with you to create a customized course of treatment. Your care plan may include:

• Immediate help with withdrawal symptoms such as sleeplessness, agitation, panic or anger

• Counseling or “talk therapy” that focuses on your unique needs. This may involve cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) or other forms of therapy.

• Family and social support to surround you with encouragement and resources for recovery.

• Group therapy that taps the tremendous power of peer support in helping you move forward.

• Education that enables you to see your addiction in context and empowers you with new skills and abilities.

• Medications, if appropriate, that will help manage your symptoms and enable you to participate more fully in the recovery process.

• Yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques that can help you manage day-to-day stress and feel healthier.


Find effective treatment now
(866) 729-1012 Or click here to send a secure message.


Your journey toward wellness is an ongoing process of growth and insight. As you move into treatment for sex or love addiction, you will see that recovery does not move in a straight line. There will be challenges along the way – but with the support of your care team, family and friends, you will move forward with confidence.

Your SunCloud Health care team will provide the therapeutic care and resources you need to adopt a healthy, balanced attitude toward love and sexuality. As you gain new perspective and skills, we will be here support your progress.


Contact us for your first appointment
(866) 729-1012 Or click here to send a secure message.


Emily Long discusses how patients benefit from an integrative treatment approach and how that contributes to a more effective treatment experience at SunCloud Health.


As an outpatient treatment center, SunCloud Health is in an ideal position to support you for as long as you agree our services are useful to you. With multiple levels of outpatient care, you may decide to stay connected through one of our aftercare outpatient groups – or you may want to continue seeing one of our individual therapists.  We are here to provide continuous, caring support for your recovery journey.

Though we understand fully that you don’t want to spend your life in treatment, we also know from experience that a lifetime commitment to wellness is the foundation of your well-being over the long term. We will work with you to maintain a healthy outlook, which means achieving balance, honesty, and health — physical, emotional and spiritual. Our goal is to create a care plan that you can take with you forever, wherever you may go.


Dr. Marcia Nickow, Psy.D., CADC, CGP shares her thoughts on hope for recovery at SunCloud Health.

The treatment team at SunCloud gets it. They practice what they preach, they are compassionate and they are true professionals.  They all understand what I am going through and they have guided me from a hopeless place of disease to recovery and a life worth living.  Most importantly they have helped me realize that I am worth something and that I don’t have to use in order to cope with life and all that comes with it.  Recovery can be amazing.  Trust me.  The work is not easy and it is totally worth it!   Today I am alive.

~ SCH patient