You’re sure to have heard of sex addiction. Ever wondered whether or not it is a real thing? The debate about this has been going on for a while now. A lot of researchers and psychiatrists believe that it isn’t a real form of addiction simply because it hasn’t been studied enough for there to be proper evidence. That said, they definitely feel it could be an actual hindrance to one’s day-to-day life. Let’s break down what it is and what the possible signs, causes, and treatment could be.
What Is Sex Addiction?
Sex addiction, which also goes by the name hypersexual disorder, isn’t just a high sex drive. It’s much more complex than that. Because it hasn’t been formally recognized as an addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and due to lack of proper research, it is often believed not to be real. However, it actually is quite similar to other addictions in the way it affects a person.1
A person can be characterized as an addict when he/she uses sex as a coping mechanism for stress, emotional suffering, loneliness, and anxiety. The sexual activity provides some sort of a high without any genuine emotional connection or intimacy. And once the high starts to wear off, the cycle starts again. What differentiates sex addiction from just liking sex a lot is that a sex addict is never satisfied no matter how much sex he/she has. The addiction also seems to be related more to the pattern of obsessive behavior than the act of sex itself. It also appears to be more common in men – gay men in particular – than women.
Signs Of Sex Addiction
While the indicators may vary from person to person, here are some of the most common signs you might see in a possible addict:
- Excessive masturbation – one of the earliest signs
- Obsessing over sex enough for it to interfere with life
- Inability to stop having frequent sex despite knowing the consequences – one of the primary signs
- Spending a lot of time planning the next sexual activity
- Frequently watching porn or using phone sex services
- Frequently having sex with multiple partners – even with total strangers or prostitutes
- Emotional detachment from sexual partners
- Frequent sex without protection – with a sex drive high enough for the addict not to care about the consequences of unprotected sex, causing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies
- Frequently engaging in distasteful, unusual, or unacceptable sexual behaviors like sadism, masochism, or pedophilia
Possible Causes Of Sex Addiction
Sex addiction has often been related to childhood experiences that may have affected sexual development. And the extent of the impact of these experiences depends on how profound they were and how the individual processed them. About 25 percent of male sex addicts are said to have experienced traumas like sexual abuse or incest during childhood. And a shocking 75 percent of female sex addicts have been found to have experienced similar traumas.
Sex addiction has also been linked to abnormal levels of the brain chemicals dopamine (controls the brain’s pleasure centers) and serotonin (affects mood). Some experts also believe that addicts also struggle with intimacy issues.
Treatment Options For Sex Addiction
Because it has not been identified as a proper medical condition, there isn’t any specific treatment for sex addiction. It is usually treated by comparing the symptoms with those of chemical dependency. Rehab and therapy sessions are often the ways to go. Therapists help addicts see that there are other ways to deal with stress besides sex. They teach addicts how to develop healthy friendships with people, the important part of healthy relationships, and how to interact healthily with family all over again. These methods have been found to have a positive impact on addicts, allowing them to start living life normally.
Now that you’re familiar with everything you need to know about sex addiction, watch out for the possible signs so you can identify it when you see it.
|↑1||Karila, Laurent, Aline Wéry, Aviv Weinstein, Olivier Cottencin, Aymeric Petit, Michel Reynaud, and Joël Billieux. “Sexual addiction or hypersexual disorder: different terms for the same problem? A review of the literature.” Current pharmaceutical design 20, no. 25 (2014): 4012-4020.|