According to Psychology Today, sexual behaviors which are “excessive” have long been recorded as early as the 1700s. Before, it was labeled as hypersexuality, excessive sexual desires, nymphomania, satyriasis, and Don Juanism. All these terms mean sexual behavior which includes low control over problematic and excessive sexual behaviors, urges, and fantasies.
What is Sex Addiction?
In an article published in the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is described as a major, enduring brain disease that affects the brain’s circuitry, memory, motivation, and reward. With this definition in mind, sexual addiction can, therefore, be defined as the inability of the person to control his sexual motivations, thereby impairing his behavior, his life, and his relationships.
An individual struggling with sexual addiction is, as the term suggests, obsessed with having sex and has an intensely uncontrollable sexual drive. Most of the time, their thoughts are focused on having sexual activities, until these thoughts adversely affect their interactions, relationships, and other activities. If their sexual desires will end being totally uncontrolled, they might have problems taking part in social activities.
Though sexual addiction is not an established medical condition, there is no denying that such a condition can affect lives, relationships, and families in a negative way. The reason which contributes to the difficulty of establishing sexual addiction as a mental condition is the fact that different people have different libido or sex drive levels. If the sexual drive is made as the sole measure to identify whether or not a person is a sex addict, then this will not stand given the difference in libido levels.
Symptoms of Sex Addiction
According to Medical News Today, there were numerous efforts made to characterize sex addiction. Most of these characterizations were patterned after chemical dependency. This is so because the brain is believed to share similar circuits and reward systems as drug or alcohol addictions.
Then again, the fact the sexually addicted individuals may have been addicted to various kinds of sexual acts and behavior. This is the basic reason why such a condition is quite difficult to define. This also suggests that such problems stem from the obsession to act the addiction out, rather than the action itself. These are a few activities that are linked to sex addiction according to Medical News Today:
- Engaging in unsafe sex
- Frequenting prostitution dens
- Having numerous sexual partners
- Incontrollable desire to have one-night stands
- Numerous affairs
- Obstinate usage of pornography
- Uncontrollable masturbation
Attitudes and behavior accompanying sex addiction:
- Unable to control sexual desires to the point that they don’t respect other people who are part of the sexual act
- Emotional detachment wherein the sex part is not emotionally satisfying to the individual
- Pre-occupied to attract other people, start a new affair, always feeling in love, which most of the time leads to having multiple relationships all at the same time.
- Feelings of shame and guilt
- A mindfulness that his desires are irrepressible, despite any social, medical, or financial consequence
- A vicious cycle of trying and failing to control the urge to participate in extraordinary acts of lustful sex
- Going beyond normal length and duration of sexual behaviors
- Excessive energy and time intended for getting sex or recuperating from an erotic encounter
- Gave up work, social life, or enjoyable activities due to sexual addiction
The manifestation of sexual rage syndrome — a condition wherein the individual becomes violent, restless, anxious, and distressed because they can’t engage in sexual activities
According to PsychGuide, an affiliate of American Addictions Center, clinical depression is a kind of mental health condition which is serious and if becomes untreated for a prolonged period of time, can be deadly. This is the reason why patients with addiction and a co-occurring mental condition must be brought for treatment in a dual diagnosis rehab.
In a study published by Patrick Carnes, he explored the circumstances of sex addicts who had to drink alcohol or get high on drugs to feel fewer inhibitions in carrying out their sexual fantasies. He also explored circumstances where people combine Viagra with cocaine to heighten the high they get from both substances while also getting sexual pleasure.In his conclusion, he recommended that for sex addiction to be brought into clinical deliberations, it is necessary to show how this addiction interacts with other forms of addiction, specifically drug and alcohol addiction.
How Treatment for Sex Addiction Works
Here are some treatment options available for people with sex addiction:
- Individual Therapy Sessions: A 60-minute or 30-minute therapy sittings with a licensed mental health practitioner, specifically focusing on the individual’s sexually uncontrolled behavior and any associated mental health issues.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This treatment option specifically centers on thoughts, emotions, and behavior and functions to alter negative thought processes to positive ones.
- Group therapy: This treatment option is facilitated by licensed therapists and such treatment is designed to make detrimental actions and negative thoughts into positive and pro-social ones.
- Marriage counseling: This is ideal for both the sex addict and the spouse or partner. The counseling can improve their trust and communication skills. It can also help them forge a healthy sexual relationship.
- 12-step recovery: This is a program formed and popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous and has been adapted by Sex Addicts Anonymous. This is a group-based treatment model wherein the individual is helped in making them willing to live an addiction-free life through complete surrender to a higher power.
- Dual Diagnosis Rehab: This treatment option is ideal for those who have sexual addiction issues and an accompanying mental health condition. Both conditions are treated simultaneously.
If you or a loved one is struggling with sexual addiction, know that you are not alone in this battle. You still can do something about your condition and live a life free from the burden of addiction.