Sex Addiction: Causes, Signs, And Treatment
We all worry about our loved ones and whether or not they are addiction free. When it comes to sex addiction, that worry can be amplified tenfold. While it is still technically considered a taboo topic, sex addiction is more openly discussed now than ever before.
But what is sex addiction? What are the causes? The signs? How is it treated? In this article, we will be focusing on sex addiction, the causes, consequences, and methods of treatment.
What is Sex Addiction?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, addiction is the uncontrollable need for substance use. The person suffering from this complicated condition is said to succumb to it regardless of the consequences.
Hence, addiction has been defined as a brain disease and a behavioral condition. In other words, this problematic addiction is recognized as a mental health disorder. One type of behavioral addiction is sex addiction.
Sex addiction also referred to as hypersexuality, is a condition that leads to compulsive sexual habits and desires. This addiction is also known as compulsive sexual behavior, nymphomania, and sexual dependence. In the same way that an individual cannot control their need for drugs, so does a person addicted to sex.
Regardless of the consequences, an addict finds it extremely difficult to stop themselves. In this case, the consequences include financial disintegration and the contraction of diseases.
Other than prostitution and sex trading, below are the forms of sexual addiction:
- Exhibitionistic Sex (ES): Individuals that fall into this category enjoy exploring different positions during sex. They also enjoy the high that comes from having sex in different places.
- Sadomasochism: As the name suggests, such an individual enjoys the reaction he/she has from receiving and giving pain during a sexual encounter.
- Seductive Role Sex (SRS): Such individuals enjoy having the power to seduce others into having sex with them.
- Exploitative Sex: This type of addiction has individuals exploiting others sexually against their will.
- Fantasy Sex: This type of individual only prefers fantasies that revolve around sex than the actual thing.
- Voyeuristic Sex (VS): These types of people are often visual, and prefer viewing people having sex. Such acts sexually arouse them, leading to masturbation.
The cases of sexual addiction are growing rapidly as time goes by. Of course, the emergence of the internet has not helped at all. Today, anyone can access pornographic material that can encourage the development of sexual addiction. Therefore, we must remain vigilant by monitoring what minors are viewing online.
Below are the recent statistics that reflect the current state of sexual addiction in the United States:
- At least 12 million American citizens suffer from sexual addiction, as stated by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. However, there is research that states that the numbers are higher than that. As stated by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, between 18 to 24 million Americans struggle with addiction.
- At least 3% of women, while 8% of men are considered an addict to sex.
- Between 5 to 9% of people suffering from Alzheimer’s suffer from sexual addiction
- At least 80% of the people addicted to sex are also addicted to something else, like substance abuse.
- Between 3-5% of Americans, based on the number of people seeking treatment, suffer from this disorder.
- Over 80% of women are likely to engage in uncontrolled sexual behaviors.
- Women that are sex addicts are less likely to seek professional help due to the stigma that comes with it.
The Causes of Sex Addiction
When it comes to stating the cause of sexual addiction, there is no single cause. Different factors often lead to the escalation of sex addiction. Below are some of the causes that lead to the development of the behavioral condition:
1) Biological Factors
- Sex hormones, when produced in excess, increase our desire for sexual satisfaction.
- Biochemical imbalances are another culprit that leads to sexual addiction. If the two main neurotransmitters that modulate sexual behavior include oxytocin and dopamine. The lower they are in the body, the more likely you are to develop a sexual addiction.
2) Social Factors
- Pornography: Individuals that were exposed to pornography at an early age are more likely to develop the sexual compulsive disorder.
- Isolation: We, as humans, are social beings that crave social interactions. Isolating ourselves from social interactions can encourage the development of sex addiction.
- Peers: The peers that we surround ourselves with while we’re young tend to influence our behavior and habits.
- Dysfunctional families: This is a sad reality since being born into a dysfunctional family is often out of our control. Regardless, growing up in a cold family can often push individuals to seek comfort in sex.
- Research states that at least 87% of American sex addicts come from dysfunctional families.
3) Psychological Factors
- Individuals that have gone through a traumatic experience, be it physical, emotional, or social, develop sexual addiction. Sex is a way of dealing with trauma. However, top experts advise using sex as a means to cope. There are far healthier ways.
Signs and Symptoms of Sex Addiction
Substance abusers have a hard time staying away from the drugs they abuse. The consequences are often pushed to the back burner in an attempt to satisfy their desires. It’s the same way with sexual addiction: the individual is controlled by it and only seeks to satisfy his/her needs at the moment.
If you have a partner, friend, or child that you’re worried about, below are the signs to look out for:
- Frequently has unsafe sex
- Has more than just one partner
- Gets upset when he/she cannot have sex
- Constantly has sexual thoughts and fantasies
- Cannot control themselves from masturbation
- Experiences sexual urges constantly
Negative Effects of Sexual Addiction
The severity of the consequences that come with sexual addiction is dictated by several factors. For instance, the frequency and length that an individual engages in sexual activity will dictate the consequences. Some are more severe, while others can only be temporary and treatable.
- Such individuals are unable to be good parents
- Sex addicts have a hard time trusting other people
- Broken marriages and broken relationships are often a consequence of this behavioral condition
- Such an addiction often pushes the addicts into isolation
- Sexual addicts tend to be very self-centered; a habit that stems from self-isolation
- The development of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
- Inability to make sound decisions
- Research states that at least 75% of people addicted to sex suffer from suicidal thoughts and behavior
- Unable to be responsible. Hence, their jobs may suffer
- May also be struggling with other forms of addiction, such as overeating. Research states that at least 83% of sex addicts tend to develop other forms of addiction.
- One can risk getting infected with HIV/Aids
- Might contract Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Treatments of Sex Addiction
There are several effective treatments. However, treatment is only effective if the person is a hundred percent willing and cooperative.
Below are some of the treatment options to consider:
- 12-Step Recovery Program
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Mindfulness-Based Therapy
- Motivational Interviewing
- Couples Therapy
- Pharmacological Treatment
If you or someone you know is addicted to sex and requires help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We have addiction specialists that can help you find the right approach to treat your behavioral addiction.