What Is Sex Addiction?
Sex releases endorphins and pleasure chemicals like dopamine in the brain, similar to some types of drugs. This can make the process of looking for and having sex a strain for people with sex addiction. Rather than them enjoying what sex they have, they are instantly compelled to look for their next “fix.” What makes this addiction so hard to treat 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.
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Symptoms Of Sex Addiction
People suffering from sex addiction will struggle to control their impulses. Similar to how someone addicted to Heroin may be willing to go to great lengths to feed their addiction, people addicted to sex will do whatever it takes 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 activities 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 desired effect
- Feeling withdrawals or negative feelings when unable to engage in sexual behavior
People who exhibit these symptoms may not necessarily suffer from an addiction, but they may still want to reach out and discuss what they are feeling.
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Can Someone Actually Have A 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. 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” and 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. And what are people afflicted with addiction, if not suffering from a biological compulsion to use a certain substance?
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. They instead act out of a perverse need for power, dominance, control, revenge, or even anger. 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 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 where to start, then contact a treatment provider today. They are available to answer any rehab-related questions you may have.
Cooper Smith earned his Bachelor’s in Writing for Entertainment from Full Sail University. While he was initially interested in a career in television, he saw an issue in his community and felt compelled to do something more. Now, he uses his knowledge to reach out to people who may need help and make the public aware of issues we are facing as a society. When he isn’t behind a computer, Cooper travels somewhere new.
- More from Cooper Smith
- Fong, Timothy W. (2006). Understanding and Managing Compulsive Sexual Behaviors. Retrieved on November 15th, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2945841/
- Herkov, Michael PhD. (2018). What is Sexual Addiction. Retrieved on November 15th, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-sexual-addiction/
- Herkov, Michael PhD. (2018). Symptoms of Sexual Addiction. Retrieved on November 15th, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/symptoms-of-sexual-addiction/
- LaPierre, Jim. (2014). Treating Co-occurring Sex & Substance Addictions. Retrieved on November 15th, 2018, from https://www.choosehelp.com/topics/sex-addiction/treatment-for-co-occurring-sex-substance-addictions
- Psychology Today. (2018). Hypersexuality (Sex Addiction). Retrieved on November 15th, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/hypersexuality-sex-addiction
Certified Addiction Professional
David embarked on his journey into sobriety in June of 2005, which led him to his current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in private practice in Greater Nashville. David is also a public speaker and the author of two books. David is cohost of the weekly Positive Sobriety Podcast, as well as being a frequent contributor to various articles and recovery based materials. As a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), David works closely with area treatment centers, recovery orientated nonprofit organizations, as well as being a keynote speaker for various recovery-focused events.
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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.