Sexual Addiction

Addiction refers to progressive compulsive behavior for getting something, despite of knowing that it produces negative consequences. Like many other addictions, sexual addiction also creates a negative impact on the person. The addict becomes preoccupied with sexual thoughts and acts and over time he would intensify his behavior for getting the same satisfaction. Sexual addiction can compel you to engage in masturbation several times and use sex devices or watch pornography. In extreme cases people may engage in socially forbidden activities like exposing oneself in public or raping a child for satisfying his craving. Reports state that more than 70% of child rapists are sex addicts.

Definition :

Sex addiction can be defined as involving in persistent and increasing sexual behavior/activity without bothering about its impact on self and others. According to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) of psychiatric problems, sexual addiction involves compulsive search for several partners, engaging in compulsive masturbation, compulsive sex and love relationships, and persistent fixation on any partner who cannot be reached.

You may be aware that such activities can cause potential health problems or it can severely affect your family relationships or sometimes you may have to face legal action for such acts. The person who is addicted will not care about any consequences and all he wants is immediate gratification of his desire. In the current scenario, the percentage of sex addicts has been consistently increasing. More individuals are engaging in illicit sex affairs, involved with phone sex and computer pornography and engage in variety of unusual activities.

Facts on Sexual Addiction :

  • As per the record available, about 30 million people are having sexual addiction in the USA alone.
  • The addicted person will be always occupied with thoughts of sexual behavior that gives him immediate pleasure.
  • Sexual addicts can either by paraphilias or non-paraphilias.
  • Sexual addiction can occur due to multiple factors involving psychological, social and biological.
  • There is no single concrete test to diagnose sexual addiction.
  • Sexual addiction can be managed and treated with combined approach of medications and help of support groups.

Sex Addiction Types :

There are 2 types of sexual addiction, namely the paraphilias and non-paraphilias. All the paraphilias need not be sexually addicted but they are sexual offenders. However there is no clear difference between these two categories as laid down by scholars and scientists.

  1. Paraphilias are those people who involve in easily accessible behaviors like watching porn pictures or engage in excessive masturbation etc. They are people who get high pleasure or sexual arousal using particular objects or watching certain things. They would make obscene calls to unknown person and derive pleasure. Paraphilias are sexually aroused by certain acts like touching specific parts of women or by touching their clothing (fetishism), peeping sexual acts of other people (voyeurism), overly exposing oneself in public place (exhibitionism) and having sex with children (pedophilia).
  2. Non paraphilic people are those who indulge in repeated sexual activities that involve conventional and normative behavior. Here particular behavior may or may not cause distress to him or society. Non deviant thoughts about sex would compulsively arouse in his mind.

Sex Addiction Causes :

Why certain people become sexually addicted and not others? There is no answer for this question yet. Multiple factors like psychological, social or environmental and biological can make one sexually addicted. It is believed to be caused due to certain changes in chemicals secreted in the brain. People with anxiety disorders like depression, OCD and bipolar disorder can develop sex addiction also.

Social factor can contribute for sexual addiction. Individuals who are neglected in the society tend to be isolated and develop insecurity and engage in compulsive behavior on sex. Children who were sexually abused in early stages are at high risk of developing sexual addiction in later stages.

Like many other addiction, the brain gets used to sexual addiction also and produces number of biochemical changes to give the person euphoric feeling. Often sex addicts involve in sexual activity only for pleasure and to resolve other emotional issues and not to gain intimacy from his partner. Many sex addicts are known to have other addiction like alcohol abuse or substance abuse.

Symptoms :

  • The predominant symptom of sexual addiction is indulging in illicit or unruly behavior for achieving pleasure, without caring about the consequences. They suffer from negative model of sex behavior that is not accepted by the society.
  • They are preoccupied with thoughts of sex most of the time which in turn would strengthen their behavior.
  • They might indulge in more violent sexual behavior to get the desired goal of sexual pleasure. The person with sex addiction will have plans for recovering from it but in pain. The ultimate guilt feeling will further increase the desire that triggers him to engage in more and more sexual activity.
  • In severe cases, sexual addicts would neglect their office work and other activities that include caring for family and relationships.
  • Very often, sex addicts continue to behave in unruly method, despite knowing that it would cause health problems or psychological problems.
  • Sex addicts will have multiple partners and often engage in sex. They would crave for sex without bothering money or status.
  • In spite of the feeling to stop the sexual practice, they think only about sex to the core of forgetting other important activities.

Sexual Addiction

Tests or Diagnosis :

Sex addicts seldom admit they have problem and like many other mental disorders, there is no concrete test to diagnose sexual addiction. Your family or close relatives can help you to consult a psychiatrist. She may collect complete information about the patient which includes his medical history, family and other mental issues. She might check if he has depression or obsessive compulsive disorder through comprehensive questionnaire. She may also test him for other disorders like anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. In some cases the individual will disclose the desire to stop sexual behavior but his inability to do so.

Sex Addiction Treatment :

Treatment for sexual addiction involves combined approach of therapy and medications. The person will be referred to a therapist who would use cognitive behavior therapy to identify the triggering factors. This therapy will gradually improve their symptoms and manage it effectively. In some cases, inpatient treatment is necessary if they are severely addicted.

  • Medications :

Several drugs belonging to the group of SSRI that are prescribed for bipolar disorder, panic disorder and anxiety disorders are given for sex addicts. This includes Prozac, paroxetine, sertaline and escitalopram. These drugs can produce some adverse effects like nausea, sleeping sickness and agitation and your doctor will give suitable remedy to cope with it. The drugs are effective in reducing the sex drive gradually.

Mood stabilizers like carbamazepine, lamotrigine are prescribed for sex addicts. Similarly Naltrexone is effective in reducing the sexual compulsion and craving for sex. The outcome is based on three factors namely, the severity of sex addiction, the support from family and inner desire to change. Complete recovery is possible only with the motivation and encouragement from the family members.

The family will be educated that sexual addiction is like other mental disorders and not associated with behavior alone. It might take several months and even years to recover fully from sexual addiction. An expert therapist can handle problems like guilt and shame feeling from the side of the addict. Seek help from professional groups like Sex Anonymous where the affected person can realize that he is not alone.

Prevention :

Though sexual addiction cannot be prevented, still there are tips for increasing the self esteem of growing children. Parents should control the timing of internet use by their children and educate them about the impending danger. They can restrict certain websites if they cannot watch them closely. Parents should address any emotional issues of their child and find suitable solution so that he/she will not fall prey to any addiction.

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