Sexual addiction involves a preoccupation with sex, often leading to excessive thoughts and behaviors. Sexual addiction is becoming more prevalent, with approximately 12 million people estimated to have a form of this disorder. Several different types of sexual addiction exist, with people exhibiting various behaviors and obsessions. Diagnosis and treatment is possible to assist people struggling with this disorder.
Sexual addiction can manifest itself in various ways. Some people with sexual addiction may become obsessed with easily accessible sexual activities, such as pornography, extreme masturbation, casual sex, affairs, and sexual encounters with prostitutes. This type of sexual addiction may involve arousal from making obscene phone calls, engaging with people in chat rooms, and meeting people through dating advertisements. A person experiencing sexual addiction could also exhibit paraphilic behavior, which means the addiction involves obsessed arousal by actions or objects that are unconventional or not easily attained. People exhibiting paraphilic behavior may have problems with fetishism, which is an arousal associated with a specific body part or object. Exhibitionism is another type of paraphilic behavior, involving arousal from having others watch sexual actions. Paraphilias may also show voyeuristic behavior, which involves spying on others to see sexual activities. Pedophilia, sexual arousal connected with children, also falls under paraphilic behavior.
Specific sex addiction causes are not associated with sexual addiction; however, some people may have elevated risks for developing this disorder. People who already have problems with obsessive/compulsive behavior could have a higher risk of sexual addiction. Feelings of depression and anxiety can also lead to this type of addictive behavior in some people. A person already experiencing another type of addiction is at a higher risk of transferring the addictive tendencies to sexual addiction behaviors. Other risk factors include social isolation and problems with impulse control, frustration, intimacy, and insecurity. People who have been sexually abused are also at a higher risk of developing sexual addiction.
A person suffering from sexual addiction may show specific symptoms and behaviors. The main sign of sexual addiction is the presence of a pattern of sexual behavior that is causing negative repercussions. A person may develop a tolerance for sexual behavior that requires more acts or more intense behavior to achieve the same desired effect. If a person cannot engage in the desired acts, negative withdrawal could occur. A person may spend time obsessing over the behavior, planning how and when it will occur. A person experiencing sexual addiction may ignore responsibilities, such as work or school, due to the addictive behavior. Someone struggling with sexual addiction may attempt to stop the behavior unsuccessfully.
Sexual addiction can lead to a number of related issues. Excessive and unprotected sex can cause illness such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C. Sexual addiction behaviors could even lead someone to commit crimes such as rape or sexual harassment. Work and school performance can suffer from obsession connected with sexual addiction. Personal relationships may also become strained as a result of this obsession.
A professional can diagnose a sexual addiction with a comprehensive examination. Screening tools exist that can help professionals assess personality traits and behavioral symptoms, which may point to sexual addiction. Interviews and questions can disclose sexual compulsions and obsessions, which could help diagnose the disorder. It’s also important to rule out other possible causes of compulsive and obsessive sexual behavior, such as a brain tumor or dementia.
Resolving sexual addiction involves a combination of treatments. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help a person learn how to recognize triggers that lead to negative behavior. After recognizing triggers, the therapy can provide positive alternatives for the person to use instead of resorting to the addictive behavior. Medication can help relieve depression and anxiety, which may ease the compulsive behavior. Some people struggling with sexual addiction also receive assistance from attending support groups.
Please use the following links in this reference section for more information about sexual addiction:
- Concept of Sexual Addiction
- Sex Addiction, Pathological Gambling, And Other Mental Health Disorders
- Treating the Sexually Addicted Client: Establishing a Need for Increased Counselor Awareness
- Self-Help: Overcoming Pornography Addiction
- Therapeutic Strategies in the Treatment of Pornography & Sexual Addictions
- The Sex Addict, the Dry Drunk, and the Ubiquitous Recovery Movement
- Sexual Addiction, Sexual Compulsivity, Sexual Impulsivity, or What? Toward a Theoretical Model
- Addictive Behaviors
- An Unexpected Addiction on the Rise!
- Sexual Addiction
- An Invitation to Recovery
- What Is Sex Addiction?
- The Spectrum of Substance Use, Abuse, and Addiction
- Help for Sexual Addiction
- Sexual Addictions
- Three Reasons to Date Someone Who Has Recovered from Sex Addiction
- Compulsive Sexual Behavior
- Diagnosis: The Signs and Symptoms of Sexual Addiction
- Sex Addiction
- Signs and Symptoms of Internet Sexual Addiction
- Sexual Addiction Overview