This guide explains the effects, trends, and dangers of sexual addiction, as well as an unbiased analysis of the medicinal and behavioral treatment methods for sexual addiction based on current research and publicly available statistics.
Psychologists place unusual sexual behavior into one of two categories: Paraphilic and non-paraphilic.
Paraphilic behaviors are outside of what is considered normal by most of society. There is a large subset of these activities, but those recognized by the American Psychiatric Manual of Mental Disorders include fetishism, voyeurism, sexual masochism and sadism, pedophilia, and frotteurism. To be classified as a disorder, the sexual addict’s need to experience sexual pleasure must cause significant problems with their daily life, either legally, socially, economically, or mentally.
Non-paraphilic behaviors include more common sexual practices, such as prostitution, strip clubs, extramarital affairs, and masturbation. However, as with the paraphilic activities, the sex addict engages in them to the detriment of their everyday life.
Punitive legal measures are applied to any sexual activity that is performed without consent upon another individual. Penalties range from years in prison to enforced castration.
Other terms used for sexual addictions
Addictive behaviors may seem similar to compulsive behaviors, as both include overpowering urges to perform certain activities. However, the sex addict is looking for pleasure (mental and physical), which is accomplished through their specific actions. Compulsive behaviors may result in pleasure, but the main reason for doing them is often unknown. They simply are something the person must do. Eventually, the elements overlap, and what started as an addictive behavior to pleasure now becomes an unstoppable compulsion.
Brain injuries and disturbances can result in hypersexuality or other sexual habit changes according to several medical studies. Doctors hypothesize that the loss of inhibitions due to frontal lobe injury may be partially to blame.
Using neuroimaging equipment, scientists can designate which areas of the brain control sexual desires, arousal, and inhibition. They’re also looking into the correlation between sensitivity to sexual cues in hypersexual men and the loss of sexual function in stressed individuals. Overall, the sexual response relies on receiving the right cues at the right time. Variations can lead to sexual problems, such as hypersexuality and addiction.
Many times, people can hide their sexual addiction, even from friends and family. Eventually, the desire to fulfill their sexual fantasies outweighs common sense, and they start to depart from their normal behavior. Close family members and relationship partners may be the first to notice changes. Some indications of a sexual behavioral problem include:
While most of the symptoms commonly seen among those with hypersexuality are behavioral in nature, some physical ailments do occur as well.
Over time, sexual addiction can ruin lives, including those of the individual and their family and friends. Time spent focused on sexual behaviors, whether it’s trolling the internet or engaging in risky hook-ups, leaves less time for beneficial activities, such as work and real-life relationships.
Addicts may feel burdened by the guilt and shame that accompanies their sexual inclinations, which often leads to depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. Sores and rashes from STDs leave a person more vulnerable to HIV, and all these negative consequences are intensified when the patient is addicted to other substances, such as street drugs, prescription medications, or alcohol.
|Long-term Physical Symptoms|
STDs, including HIV
|Chronic Including all of the above effects for casual use||Depression|
|Withdrawal||Increased use of:|
The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offer in-depth information on drug and alcohol addiction and behavioral health disorders, such as sexual addiction.
Sexual health is also of paramount concern in the United States, including the increasing risky behavior of adolescents. According to the Center for Disease Control, 10% of high school students have had more than four sexual partners, and 19% used drugs or alcohol during their last sexual experience.
In 2017, the birth rate for women, aged 15-19, was 18.8 per 1,000. Further evidence shows that only 50% of teen mothers will graduate from high school before they’re 22 years of age, leaving them economically challenged.
Violent pornography viewing has been linked to teen dating violence, especially in males (who are over three times more likely to engage in TDV).
Sexual addiction’s taboo subject matter often causes those involved to suffer in silence. Unfortunately, long-term risky sexual behavior can lead to serious physical harm and legal consequences. Furthermore, the mental stress associated with poor impulse control can result in depression and thoughts of suicide.
Since the American Psychiatric Association added the disorder of hypersexuality to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, treatments and therapies are more prevalent. Rehab clinics and outpatient support groups that specialize in sexual addiction, such as Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), can help individuals find relief. To learn more about the options available, see our Sexual Addiction rehabilitation guide and start your path to recovery.
If you have a loved one who’s struggling with addiction, staging an intervention is often the first necessary step towards sobriety, but it’s important to be strategic and loving in your approach. Even the most well-meaning of interventions can have a negative effect if they aren’t handled correctly.
|1. Don’t Do It Alone. A professional interventionist is always the most qualified to guide a successful intervention. Also, rely on non-addict family and friends – especially those who have a close relationship with you or the addict.|
|2. Research Ahead of Time. It’s best to do plenty of research ahead of time to gather insight on the addiction and how it affects the addict. Also, be prepared with local resources for getting help.|
|3. Write Out Your Statement. During the actual intervention, emotions will likely be running high, so it’s best to have a statement of how the person’s addiction has impacted you and your relationship with him or her. These statements should be honest, yet written from a place of love – no personal attacks.|
|4. Offer Help. It’s important for everyone attending the intervention to offer tangible help and support as the person works through detox and rehabilitation.|
|5. Set Boundaries. If the person refuses to seek help and take the next steps outlined, it’s important that they understand that everyone present will end codependent and enabling behaviors.|