What Causes Sex Addiction?
The cause of sex addiction is not clearly understood. It may be a combination of psychological, social, and biological factors. Sex addiction may also be an underlying condition for people who struggle with other forms of addiction, such as alcohol or drug abuse. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to sex addiction. Others may have experienced childhood trauma or have been sexually abused, which can affect their sexual functioning and result in shame. Sexual addiction may also be a coping mechanism for other mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression. People who struggle with sex addiction may also have poor impulse control and difficulty regulating their emotions and feelings, two things that can contribute to addictive behavior.In long-term gay relationships, sexual compulsion is often linked to shame and self-loathing, stemming from the view that homosexuality is shameful and sick, and that these feelings can be resolved by engaging in heterosexual sex. A study of gay men found that sexual compulsion was linked to a history of childhood sexual abuse, drug and alcohol use, and shame surrounding homosexuality. A study of lesbians found that sexual compulsion was linked to shame and self-loathing surrounding being a woman, but was not related to childhood sexual abuse as it is among gay men.
Is Sex Addiction a Mental Disorder?
Experts are divided over whether sexual compulsion is a mental disorder. There is no clear definition of a mental disorder and there is debate over what it means to be mentally healthy, so it’s difficult to say if sexual addiction fits. Some researchers suggest that compulsive sexual behavior should be considered an impulse control disorder, which is a group of mental disorders characterized by a pattern of out-of-control and harmful behavior. Some researchers believe that sexual addiction may merely be a symptom of an underlying condition for people who struggle with mental health disorders, repressed sexual urges, or substance abuse. Many mental health professionals and organizations do not view sexual addiction as a mental health disorder, but this does not mean it is not a problem — and it does not mean that managing compulsive sexual behaviors is impossible.
Signs and Symptoms of Sex Addiction
If you’re worried that you or a loved one may have a sex addiction, look out for these signs and symptoms:
- You crave sex or sexual activity in a way that feels uncontrollable.
- You spend a lot of time thinking about sex when you’re not actually engaged in sexual activity.
- You keep returning to sexual activity despite the negative impact it has on your relationships and life.
- You’re preoccupied with sexual fantasies and images, or you feel the need to view pornography.
- You experience feelings of shame or guilt after engaging in sexual acts.
Long Term Consequences of Sexual Addiction
How Compulsive Sexual Behavior Affects Marriages
Excessive masturbation and pornography use
Excessive masturbation is a form of sex addiction. Men who engage in frequent or compulsive masturbation may develop sexual difficulties with a partner and also experience emotional problems. Some men may also experience physical problems such as aching hips and fatigue. These men are not alone, as a high percentage of men have some experience with compulsive masturbation. Excessive masturbation can become a problem when it interferes with daily life, causes distress, or results in social isolation. The most common type of pornography for people with sex addiction is internet pornography, which can be easily accessed, private, and often free. The ubiquity of internet pornography has led to a rise in sex addiction, though there are other factors often at play in these sexual urges, such as substance abuse and mental disorders.
What is Porn Addiction?
Porn Addiction and Substance Abuse
Experts debate the extent to which porn addiction is the same as other types of substance abuse. But research suggests that people with a porn addiction are more likely to have a substance abuse problem. While some people who struggle with substance abuse also struggle with porn addiction, others don’t. There’s little evidence that treating one disorder will treat the other. And there’s no data to suggest that treating one disorder will help with the other.
Casual sex and prostitution
Risky sex and hidden behavior
How is Sex Addiction Treated?
12 Steps and Sex Addicts
People who have sex addiction can benefit from a 12-step program (such as Sex Addicts Anonymous or Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous). Twelve-step groups can be helpful for treating sex and other addictions because they offer a supportive community where members can share their experiences, provide each other with encouragement, and remind each other of the importance of staying sober. Unlike some other addictions, sex addiction does not involve an uncontrollable physical dependence on a substance. Still, sex addicts can benefit from the same core principles that form the foundation of all 12-step programs, including:
- Willingness to change
- A desire to help others
- An emphasis on self-accountability
How to Help Someone with Sexual Addiction?
Sexual addiction is a real problem that leads to serious consequences for individuals, families, and society. The disorder is characterized by compulsive sexual behavior, shame and self-loathing, and a lack of control over one’s sexual urges. While there is no official diagnosis for sexual addiction, some researchers believe that it might be an underlying condition for people who struggle with excessive sexual behavior. If you or someone you love is struggling with compulsive sexual behavior, reach out for help before the problem spins out of control.Sex addiction is a treatable disorder, but it’s important to get help before the condition gets worse. Compulsive sexual behavior and sexual urges often lead to significant shame, guilt, and self-loathing, which can make it difficult to seek treatment. Sex addiction should be treated like other mental health disorders, so seek out a therapist who specializes in treating sex addiction. The best treatment for sexual addiction combines therapy and medication. Sex addiction therapy can help you identify the underlying causes of your addiction, change your sexual behavior, and repair your relationships. Medication can help you manage cravings and reduce the intensity of your addiction.