Technically speaking, sex addiction is not considered a medical condition yet. It’s not even listed in the manual of mental disorders that psychiatrists use. However, the consequences of sex addiction are so grave that healthcare professionals have come up with various ways to help people who are addicted to sex.
If you feel that you might be a sex addict, it would be best for you to seek professional help immediately. However, if you aren’t ready to talk to a doctor yet, here’s what you should know about sex addiction.
What Is Sex Addiction?
Sex addiction doesn’t just refer to being addicted or obsessed with the act of sex. It actually encompasses a wide range of adverse sexual behaviors that significantly impact a person’s life.
Sex addiction can take on various forms, and it can also manifest as an addiction to porn. Other forms of sex addiction include excessive masturbation, excessive sexual fantasies, and even prostitution.
Sex addiction may also be related to a paraphilia, a sexual disorder characterized by sexual arousal to atypical behaviors, individuals, objects, fantasies, or situation. Examples of paraphilia include voyeuristic disorder, exhibitionistic disorder, sexual masochism disorder, and pedophilic disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Sex Addiction
Sex addiction is actually very much similar to substance addiction. Loss of control is one factor that is common to both types of addiction. A person who is sexually addicted basically can no longer control his or her urge to have sex or to engage in the sexual behavior that he or she is addicted to.
Because sex addiction can take on different forms, the signs and symptoms may vary. For instance, one person may manifest the addiction through compulsive masturbation, while another may manifest it through the persistent use of pornography.
What is common among those who are addicted to sex is that they are unable to contain their sexual urges. This means that whenever the urge hits them, they do everything in their power to satisfy their sexual needs no matter what the consequences may be.
Those who are sexually addicted may no longer be able to respect other people’s boundaries, just like how a person with voyeuristic disorder may disregard other people’s need for privacy during sex.
Those who suffer from sex addiction also tend to feel detached. They don’t really feel emotionally satisfied or fulfilled when they engage in sexual activities. Those who are addicted to sex tend to suffer from excessive preoccupation with sex. They may also become obsessed with being in a relationship.
Because their sexual behaviors tend to be both disruptive and destructive, those who are addicted to sex are usually aware that their urges are already uncontrollable. At some point, they may try to stop or limit themselves, but they may fail to do so over and over again.
Just like with substance addiction, sex addiction can also cause withdrawal symptoms such as frustration, anger, and irritability. When a sexually addicted person fails to control his addiction, he may end up escalating. This means that he could end up engaging in riskier and more extreme behaviors.
Are You Addicted?
If you feel that you’re showing some symptoms of sexual addiction, here are some questions you should ask yourself.
- Do you feel like you need to engage in more extreme sexual activities in order to experience relief?
- Do you feel powerless over your sexual urges?
- Does engaging in sexual activities make you feel guilty or ashamed afterward?
- Do you think you spend too much time watching porn, that it already affects your daily life and relationship with others?
- Are violence and coercion involved when you engage in sexual activities?
- Do you think your sexual behavior may lead to legal problems later on?
- Have you promised yourself that you will stop, but failed to do so?
- Have you ever felt helpless or alienated because of your sexual behavior?
- Does your preoccupation with sexual fantasies affect other areas of your life?
If you feel that these questions don’t really apply to you, then you may not be a sex addict after all. It could be that you just have an overactive libido. However, if you feel more than just one of these questions applied to you, then you may want to consider seeking professional help.
Fortunately, there are several treatment options for sex addiction. Coping with sex addiction can be very difficult and frustrating, so you may want to talk to a mental health professional who can help you understand and address what you are going through.
You can choose to have one-on-one sessions with a certified mental health professional. Individual therapy for sex addiction typically focuses on your compulsive sexual behaviors. Your therapist may also address any co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or CBT
This type of therapy makes use of various techniques to help you reprogram your harmful sexual behaviors. The idea behind CBT is that your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are all interconnected, thus changing the way you think can help change your behavior.
This kind of therapy focuses on your unconscious memories, early childhood experiences, and current factors that may influence your current behavior. By helping you become aware of such factors, you gain a better understanding and control over your sex addiction.
Residential treatment programs
Facilities that provide residential treatment programs help individuals with various types of addictive disorders. You will need to live on-site at the facility for a certain period of time while you are undergoing treatment.
If you prefer to self-manage your condition, joining a self-help program may be of help. These organizations usually offer 12-step programs to aid you in overcoming or at least controlling your addiction.
In many cases, people suffering from sex addiction also have co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression. Your healthcare professional may prescribe medications for you in order to help manage your co-occurring condition.
Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications for sex addiction. However, there are cases wherein Prozac is prescribed to help reduce sexual urges. There is also evidence that Naltrexone, which is a medication for opioid addiction and alcoholism, can help lessen sexually compulsive behaviors.–