You’ve probably heard of hypersexuality or sexual addiction. But you might be surprised to know that there’s a debate about whether it’s truly an addiction.
And more interestingly, it’s not even all about sex. Sex addicts are not simply people who crave lots of sex. Instead, they have underlying problems. Sexual addiction symptoms like stress, anxiety, depression and shame are what drive their often risky sexual behaviour.
What Is Sexual Addiction?
Sex is not a problem for most people, but it can become an issue for some. The term sexual addiction describes the problem some people have when they act out sexually in ways beyond their control. However, there’s no official clinical diagnosis of sex addiction.
By way of a definition, “sexual addiction” is a compulsive need to perform sexual acts in order to achieve the kind of “fix” that a person with alcohol addiction gets from a drink.
Some Common Symptoms Of Sex Addiction
Sexual addiction also appears to involve making rules to feel in control of the condition, and then breaking them to make new rules. Here’s a list of some common attributes and attitudes of a person struggling with sexual addiction:
* Compulsive masturbation
* Multiple affairs, sexual partners, and one-night stands
* Persistent use of pornography
* Practicing unsafe sex
* Visiting prostitutes or practicing prostitution
Some of his behavioural tendencies will be:
* An inability to contain sexual urges and respect the boundaries of others involved in the sexual act
* Detachment, in which the sexual activity does not emotionally satisfy the individual
* Obsession with attracting others, being in love, and starting new romances, often leading to a string of relationships
* Feelings of guilt and shame
* An awareness that the urges are uncontrollable, in spite of financial, medical, or social consequences
* A pattern of recurrent failure to resist impulses to engage in extreme acts of lewd sex
* Engagement in sexual behaviours for longer than intended, and to a greater extent
* Several attempts to stop, reduce, or control behaviour
* Excessive time and energy spent obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from a sexual experience
* Giving up social, work-related, or recreational activities because of a sexual addiction
* Sexual rage disorder, where an individual becomes distressed, anxious, restless, and possibly violent if unable to engage in the addiction
Studies have demonstrated a strong link between alleged sexual addiction and risk-taking.
Sexual addiction may cause a person to persist in taking risks even if there may be health consequences, such as sexually transmitted infection (STI), physical injury, or emotional consequences.
Addiction can be difficult to treat, as a person with an addiction will often rationalize and justify their behaviors and thought patterns. People with a sex addiction may deny there is a problem.
Current treatment options aim to reduce any excessive urges to engage in sexual relations and to encourage the nurturing of healthy relationships.
The following treatment options are available:
* Self-help organizations, such as Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, offer step-by-step programs to help the individual in self-managing the condition.
* Residential treatment programs are available for individuals with various addictive disorders. These are in-patient programs, during which the individual lives on-site at the facility and receives care from specialized therapists.
* Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) provides a variety of techniques that help the individual change their behavior. CBT can equip a person to avoid relapses and reprogram harmful sexual behaviours. Rather than delving into feelings, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term approach geared toward helping patients notice and correct the irrational thoughts and feelings that lead to compulsive behavior via learning techniques that serve to regulate the urges. This often involves journal keeping and workbook exercises and can be an effective treatment for sexual addictions.
* Prescription medication such as Prozac, may be prescribed to reduce sexual urges. A health professional will recommend a certified medication if need be.
* Psychodynamic therapy. Built around the premise that unconscious memories and conflicts affect our behaviour, Psychodynamic therapy uncovers early childhood influencers of current habits or present factors that contribute to the current sex addiction.
* Couple’s counseling or Marriage counseling. This can be very beneficial for the sex addict and his or her partner. Couple’s counseling can help to improve communication skills, trust, and healthy sexual functioning between partners.
The support of friends and family is crucial for a person recovering from an addiction. Sexual addiction, due to its behavioral nature, can be difficult for others to understand and tolerate, especially if it has already led to damage in relationships.
However, a strong support network helps to reduce destructive behavior and the risk of relapse.