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Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is defined as any sexually-related behavior associated with compulsivity and obsession. This behavior makes it difficult for the person to establish a healthy personal relationship. The behaviors associated with this addiction hinder with a person’s normal living. Sex addiction is quite dissimilar from having high sexual drive. When you are identified as a sex addict, you are sex dependent. The person looks for sexual pleasure even from non-sexual objects. A high sexual drive is only associated with aggressive behavior when it comes to sex. People with high sexual drive do not necessarily depend on sex and are able to build a healthy sexual or personal relationship with other people. Sexual addicts make sex a priority over their family, friends, and work. With these, they destroy important relationships with the people who really care for them.

The exact cause of sexual addiction is yet to be known. Yet, certain factors have been studied that could possibly caused the addiction. the abnormal levels of sex hormones and chemicals in the brain such as androgens, dopamine, norepinephrine, or serotonin. Moreover, abnormalities in the brain caused by neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, dementia, and seizures, and medications such as dopamine agonists could also be a possible cause of sexual addiction. Changes in nerve circuits in the brain may also result in abnormal physical reactions to sexual activity. In a psychological perspective, sexual, physical, and mental abuse during childhood could increase the risk for sex addiction during adulthood. Sex addiction might be caused by the harsh incidents of our early years that lead to an increased risk for developing addictions, specifically sexual addiction. Studies have shown that victims of abuse, trauma, and neglect may have low levels of certain chemicals in the brain that affect how they experience pleasure. Furthermore, according to mental health professionals, sexual addiction can also be related to other psychological disorders such as impulse control and eating disorders.

Sexual addiction does not tell apart. You and me could be a sexual addict. It could be a minister, physician, factory worker or an executive. It could happen to anybody from all walks of life. Studies have shown that people who are sexually addicted have come from families wherein addiction had already flourished, such as alcoholism, compulsive eating, and compulsive gambling. To take into account the factor of gender, there hasn’t been a definite difference with the occurrence of sexual addiction among men and women. On the other hand, an interesting discovery have been found that sexually addicted women is increasing in number.

Behaviors associated with sexual addiction includes, compulsive masturbation, multiple affairs, consistent use of pornography, unsafe sex, cybersex, prostitution or use of prostitutes, exhibitionism, stalking, sexual harassment, and molestation. Sexual addicts gains little satisfaction from the sexual activity. They form no emotional bond with his or her partner. Sex is thought to be their means of escape from stress, boredom, anxiety, and emotional strain. Sex is a means of power and desirability for a sex addict.

More often than not, a sexual addict is in denial that he/she is an addict. These people typically feel tremendous guilt and shame about their out-of-control behavior. These people live in constant fear of discovery. So, they deny their situation and make believe that there is nothing wrong with them. Thus, the first step to treat sexual addiction, just like any other addiction, is to admit that there is something wrong with them. Then professional help would come at hand. Treatment is done with a therapist. As it is more of a behavioral and cognitive problem, cognitive-behavioral therapy is best to be used as treatment. The patient is assessed whereby his full history is examined so as to determine the root or possible cause of the behavior problem. As part of this cognitive/behavioral task-oriented approach, a sexual moderation plan is constructed wherein the patient will abstain from sex for a period of time. After abstaining, people often report a sense of well-being, a restored sense of dignity and hope for a future without any sexual compulsive behaviors. Once, the positive emotions and cognitions are achieved, group therapy is recommended.

Sex addiction involves any type of out of control sexual activity which can be a resulting factor of early childhood traumatic experiences. Aside from professional help, recognizing and accepting the behavior problem is one step to recovery.

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