What is sex addiction?
addiction is a form of hypersexuality in which the individual is unable to
control sexual urges and behaviors. It is characterized by failure (despite the
addict’s efforts) to control or curtail sexual behavior even though it leads to
harmful consequences. Often, sex addiction interferes with daily life and eventually results in serious physical, social and
Sex addicts’ behavior is typically compulsive, concealed and obsessive. Rather than integrating sex into life and relationships, sex addicts use sex as a means of coping with stress, dealing with loneliness, handling boredom and feeling important or powerful. Like other forms of addiction, sex addiction leads addicts to develop tolerance to sexual behavior and experience withdrawal symptoms when they are not engaging in sexual activity. Some sex addicts also suffer from cybersex addiction, which involves compulsive cybersex, pornography viewing and other sex-related online behaviors.
Sex addiction manifests in a variety of risky, obsessive and maladaptive behaviors. Some of the most common include:
- Multiple affairs
- Multiple and/or anonymous sexual partners
- Obsessive use of pornography
- Prostitution or use of prostitutes
- Unsafe sex
- Sexual harassment
Symptoms of sex addiction.
Symptoms of sexual addition are varied but can include:
obsessive behaviors, despite interference with everyday life
- Need to
increase the intensity, frequency, or risk of sexual behaviors in order to
achieve the same desired affects (tolerance)
track of time when engaging in sexual behaviors
to resist impulses
symptoms when behaviors are discontinued
with sexual thoughts and behaviors
of distress, anxiety, restlessness and, in rare cases, violence if unable to
engage in sexual behavior
Treating sex addiction.
Support groups for sex addicts can be helpful and often follow the 12-Steps used by groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Counseling or psychotherapy can also help sex addicts. Occasionally, SSRIs and other anti-depressants are used to reduce libido. All treatment plans should also address co-occurring conditions, such as alcoholism or drug addiction.
If you or someone you support struggles with sex addiction, Caron's Counseling Services can help. Please contact us for more information.