What is Sex Addiction?
Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from sex addiction and many more multiples of this Worldwide. But what is it? What does Sex Addiction mean? And is it really as serious an addiction as some people think it is?
Sex addiction is a constant desire to be stimulated sexually. It is the compulsive behavior where the individual becomes excessively preoccupied with sexual thoughts and behaviors that can have adverse effects. It is also referred to as Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder or hypersexuality. Sexual impulses, thoughts, and actions are normal, however, with sex addiction, the focus is on those behaviors and thoughts in excess that can negatively affect life.
The idea of sex addiction is a dichotomy because millions of people suffer from it, but also it is not officially recognized as a mental health disorder in DSM 5, making it difficult to diagnose and treat. However, current research has pointed to sexual addiction developing like a chemical addiction. Also, much like a chemical addiction such as drugs or alcohol, sex addiction can have negative physical and mental repercussions, such as emotional distress, development of anxiety or depression, sexual dysfunction, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Sex addiction is not just limited to excessive or compulsive sex acts. It can also take the form of addiction to pornography, prostitution, public sex (exhibitionism and voyeurism), unrestricted sexual fantasy, or compulsive masturbation. It can also cause the need for increased risk, danger, or other factors to achieve a similar level of arousal.
If you or someone close to you is suffering from sex addiction, it’s only natural to wonder whether a cure for sexual addiction exists. Sex addiction can be effectively treated and managed for life. If compulsive sexual behavior isn’t treated, the individual might experience intense guilt and eventually develop low self-esteem. This can ultimately lead to depression. Individuals who suffer from sexual addiction can also develop relationship and family problems. The potential also exists to become infected with sexually transmitted diseases or experience an unplanned pregnancy. Therapy is available, and it’s never too late to ask for help.
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Am I a sex addict?
It may be difficult to determine or diagnose whether or not you suffer from sexual addiction and the main reason is sex drive, or libido, varies for each person. You may have comparatively compulsive sexual activity when your partner has a significantly lower sex drive than you. Sex addiction can be difficult to diagnose because there is no definitive test or standard to define it.
However, there are some indicators that can help you self-diagnose and determine if you want to seek help for your sexual addiction.
• Addiction to pornography.
• Excessive masturbation. Being unable to control the urges to masturbate may be a sign of sexual addiction, especially if it interferes with regular life.
• Unsafe sex practices, such as having unprotected sex with multiple partners and/or strangers.
• Risky or dangerous behavior to obtain sexual gratification, including breaking local laws.
• Pursuing or engaging sex workers, or paying for sex.
Some common behaviors of sex addicts include:
• Shameful or guilty feelings after sex, or feeling regretful about sex acts or addiction.
• Giving in or unable to contain sexual urges.
• Feeling overwhelmed by sexual appetite.
• Thoughts of sex dominate everyday thoughts.
• Neglecting responsibilities, work, family, and friends for the pursuit of sexual gratification.
• Need for greater frequency or variety of sexual acts and partners.
• Destructive romantic relationships.
- Compulsive avoidance of sexual activity or sexual intimacy.
Sex Addiction Self Test
If you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions you may be a Sex Addict and there is a solution. According to Dr. Ruth Arenas, from Villa Paradiso, the Worlds Leading Sexologist, “Sex therapy is a specialized type of psychotherapy — a general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a mental health professional. Through sex therapy, you can address concerns about sexual function, sexual feelings and intimacy, either in individual therapy or couples or family therapy”.
- Do you keep secrets about your sexual behavior or romantic fantasies from those important to you? Do you lead a double life?
- Have your desires driven you to have sex in places or with people you would not normally choose?
- Do you need greater variety, increased frequency, or more extreme sexual activities to achieve the same level of excitement or relief?
- Does your use of pornography occupy large amounts of time and/or jeopardize your significant relationships or employment?
- Do your relationships become distorted with sexual preoccupation? Does each new relationship have the same destructive pattern which prompted you to leave the last one?
- Do you frequently want to get away from a partner after having sex? Do you feel remorse, shame, or guilt after a sexual encounter?
- Have your sexual practices caused you legal problems? Could your sexual practices cause you legal problems?
- Does your pursuit of sex or sexual fantasy conflict with your moral standards or interfere with your personal spiritual journey?
- Do your sexual activities involve coercion, violence, or the threat of disease?
- Has your sexual behavior or pursuit of sexual relationships ever left you feeling hopeless, alienated from others, or suicidal?
- Does your preoccupation with sexual fantasies cause problems in any area of your life — even when you do not act out your fantasies?
- Do you compulsively avoid sexual activity due to fear of sex or intimacy? Does your sexual avoidance consume you mentally?
What does life feel like for a sex addict?
Life for a sex addict can be relatively normal from the outside perspective, but on the inside, it can be a very different story. Lies and deceit can often fuel the sex addict because it can be shameful or embarrassing, or it can offer a sense of thrill and risk that the addict may be searching for. If you have a regular partner or are in a committed relationship, being a sex addict can put a serious strain and have an emotional impact on both parties. Sex addiction can hurt familial relationships, work or financial issues, and can have physical consequences, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Other activities such as having chronic sexual relationships with recurring partners or strangers can be part of the sex addict life. That can often include meeting with strangers for the sole purpose of having sex or continually having multiple partners to engage in a variety of sex acts with.
• Compulsive sexual fantasies. Sexual fantasies can be relatively normal until they become excessive and the focus of all thoughts. Thinking about sex, sex acts, and various fantasies is a normal occurrence, until it becomes difficult or impossible to control.
• Thoughts and compulsions begin to interfere in everyday life. Have you ever been so consumed by a thought or a favorite thing that you couldn’t function without it or were convinced you couldn’t live without it? When those sexual thoughts and compulsions start entering your mind during inappropriate times, such as during work, or family time, it can have an affect on not just the addict, but also the family or coworkers.
• Chronic sexual relationships, including with strangers (anonymously). Dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr have made hooking up much easier, especially for someone with sex addiction. Swiping left or right on someone’s picture, exchanging messages or phone numbers and arranging to meet up has been somewhat normalized in this new “hookup culture” and that normalization can help those suffering from sex addiction hide from their reality.
• Dishonesty. Lies and deceit can ruin relationships, friendships and family, especially if an addict is lying to cover up sexual misconduct and uncouth behavior. There can be thrills an addict gets from lying to achieve their sexual satisfaction.
• Willingly involved in danger or endangering others for the sake of sex. Engaging in dangerous behavior for the sake of sexual satisfaction can be very risky. Everything from exhibitionism (public sex, or public sex acts) to more fetishized predatory behavior to breaking local laws can be considered acts of sexual addiction and need to be addressed in therapy or treatment.
- Escapism. Sex addiction can often be an escape from reality, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and sex addiction can often cause escapism.
What treatments are available for sex addiction?
Sex addiction is not universally recognized as a mental health diagnosis, but there are treatments that can help you recover, depending on the underlying cause of the addiction. There are no drug treatments and the diagnosis is not covered under insurance, which can make getting treatment seem more out of reach than other mental health disorders.
Sex addiction can get worse over time, and untreated sex addiction can have continual negative effects on life including severe anxiety and depression. If you feel you are no longer in control of your sexual impulses, you are concerned or distressed by your behavior, you try to hide sexual activity or impulses from others, or your addiction is beginning to hurt your relationships with family, friends, or partners, you should consider seeking treatment or counseling.
Treatments can include behavioral therapy, group therapy, support groups, as well as couples or marriage counseling. Although, some addicts believe, and have been successful, without outside intervention, it is up to you and a professional to decide which avenue would best suit your addiction and address the underlying cause.
Desiring to no longer be consumed by sex addiction, or thoughts of a sexual nature can be the first step to looking for treatment. Seeking help or treatment for repetitive negative sexual behaviors can be a positive experience with the right treatment and professionals.
Some things to consider when seeking out treatment for sexual addiction are:
• Reasons and motivations for seeking treatment. Are you looking to change for yourself or others? And consider what negative effects having a sex addiction has had on you personally. Every person does not suffer the same side effects or consequences of sex addiction, and it is important to determine your own motivations.
• Program percentage dedicated to sexual compulsiveness. Finding a program dealing with addiction is an important facet to dealing with sexual compulsiveness, as it is an addiction. Also consider seeking out programs with professionals who deal specifically with hypersexuality or sex addiction. They will have more appropriate resources to fit your needs.
• Education about sexual compulsivity, addiction. Educating yourself on your addiction is just as important as receiving treatment. If you don’t understand or have difficulty finding your underlying cause, it will be harder to treat and find recovery long term.
• Inpatient vs outpatient facilities. Deciding between inpatient and outpatient facilities will depend on the few factors above and how much you and your counselor.
The compulsive need to be engaged in or consumed with sexual thoughts, also known as sexual addiction or hypersexuality, affects millions of people every day. If you are neglecting your responsibilities, feel as though you are overly interested or preoccupied by thoughts and actions of a sexual nature, and are in search of constant sexual gratification, you might suffer from sex addiction. If sex is the driving force behind your every action, you might suffer from sex addiction.
Even though sex addiction is not recognized as a mental health disorder, as more research becomes available, more people are reaching out to therapists and mental health counselors to seek treatment. No matter what avenue you decide to take to help your sex addiction, you should always make sure to seek out a professional with explicit experience in sex addiction and hypersexuality.
About the Authors
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Best Sex Addiction Clinic in Europe
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