More and more today, people are becoming diagnosed with sex addiction. While this has faced scrutiny in the eyes of the public, and has had its existence denied by multiple organizations, the concept of sex addiction is more complicated than it seems.
What Is Sex Addiction?
When someone has sex, they can feel the rush of endorphins flooding their brain. Similar to how some drugs trigger the release of dopamine. This can make the process of looking for and having sex a strain in the person’s life. Rather than them enjoying what sex they have, they are instantly compelled to look for their next “fix.” What makes this addiction so hard is that, unlike using opioids or meth, sex is necessary for life. We, as humans, have a biological imperative to have sex and continue our progeny. So, sex isn’t just something that many people can forsake, especially if they wish to have children and relationships in the traditional sense.
Symptoms of Sex Addiction
People suffering from sex addiction, to an extent, won’t have control over their impulses. Similar to how someone addicted to heroin will feel the need and be willing to go to great lengths to feed their addiction, people addicted to sex will do whatever they need to fill their need. They may lie to people, cheat on their significant other, or even pay for sex. Symptoms that someone might be suffering from sex addiction include:
- Engaging in sex with multiple partners
- Craving sex to the point that it interferes with other engagements
- Continuously engaging in excessive sexual activities despite wanting to stop
- Unsuccessful attempts to cut down on sexual activity
- Spending time in activates related to or that could lead to sex
- Neglecting other obligations in the pursuit of sex
- Continuing to engage in sexual behavior despite detriments to relationships
- Needing to escalate sexual activity to achieve the same, desired effect
- Feeling withdrawals, or negative feelings when unable to engage in sexual behavior
Someone who exhibits these symptoms may not necessarily suffer from an addiction, but they may still want to reach out and discuss what they are feeling. If you feel the need to reach out, please do. There are people waiting to hear from you and help you through whatever you’re feeling.
Can Someone Actually Have Sex Addiction?
The validity of sex addiction is a hotly debated topic among professionals. While some deny the validity of any non-substance addiction, others are trying to open the scope of what an addiction is and how people are susceptible to them. Of all the common behavioral addictions, sex addiction is possibly the most controversial.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders (DSM) is considered the standard in determining what is and what is not an addiction. In Volume Four, the DSM included sex addiction but under the category of “Sexual Disorders,” not as an addiction. To this day, the only non-substance addiction that is recognized in the DSM is Gambling Addiction. Despite this, the DSM describes sex addiction as, “compulsive searching for multiple partners, compulsive fixation on an unattainable partner, compulsive masturbation, compulsive love relationships and compulsive sexuality in a relationship.”
When one hears the word “compulsive” it implies that the person with those compulsions is in less control than the average person. What are people suffering from addiction, if not someone who is suffering from a biological compulsion to a certain substance?
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The Link Between Sex Offenders and Sex Addiction
It is unfortunate, but there is an association between people who suffer from sex addiction and sex offenders. Roughly half of convicted sex offenders can be diagnosed with a sex addiction. However, what is missing is a deviation between the two groups. It is commonly believed that people can become addicted to sex due to a chemical reaction in the brain. For sex offenders, it is accepted that they do not act for sexual gratification. Rather, they act out of a perverse need for power, dominance, control, revenge, or even anger. That being said, there are still changes in their brain that are similar to those who suffer from sex addiction, but the two don’t coincide. Not all sex offenders are addicted to sex, and not everyone who is addicted to sex will become a sex offender.
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Finding Treatment for Sex Addiction
Seeking help for sex addiction can be a tricky thing. Due to misunderstandings about what sex addiction actually entails, many people either don’t know if they have it or if they can actually recover. Just know that recovery is always an option. If you don’t know what the means or where to start, then reach out to a dedicated treatment specialist today. They are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have and direct you to the best treatment for you.
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