Finding the Best Exclusive Sex Addiction Treatment Rehab
Is Sex Addiction Harmful?
Sexual addiction can lead to a range of devastating consequences for the individual, including:
- Damage to relationships/breakup of marriages
- Incurrence of sexually transmitted infections
- Unintended pregnancies
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In 1964, Justice Potter Stewart attempted to define pornography by writing in a statement, “I know it when I see it.” This statement could just as easily apply to sexual addiction. It’s difficult to define, and each person might have a slightly different opinion on what constitutes addiction. Consider this scenario: Two men engage in sexual encounters with a random stranger. For one man, this action is a symptom of his sexual addiction. For another man, this action is a symptom of voyeurism, and isn’t considered part of a sexual addiction.
That doesn’t mean, however, that sexual addiction doesn’t truly exist. In fact, according to an article published in the journal Psychiatry, approximately six percent of the population could have a sex compulsion or addiction. Many of these people don’t get help for their addiction, and they experience a severe amount of distress as a result.
Defining Sex Addiction
The sexual behaviors themselves might include:
- Viewing of pornography
- Sex with multiple partners
- Anonymous sex
- Phone sex or “sexting”
- Participation in online sex chat rooms
These behaviors, in and of themselves, do not define the addiction. Someone who participates in these behaviors is not necessarily a sex addict. It is the compulsion and the mental harm that the compulsion causes that lies at the center of sex addiction. People cannot stop behaving in this way, even though they may feel absolutely awful about their behavior.
It’s important to stress that the person feels mental distress about the behavior. Some people find, according to news reports, that sexual addiction couldn’t possibly be dangerous because the activities sound fun and intriguing. Men, in particular, might think of sexual addiction as an all-day pleasure-fest for the addict. In fact, the opposite is true. Just like an alcoholic may not enjoy taking a drink but may do so because he or she needs a drink in order to function, a sex addict rarely enjoys participating in sex. He or she is simply driven to do so.
Sex addicts may spend a significant amount of time on their addiction, meeting new people and trying to lure people into sexual acts. They may spend hours looking at pornography or participating in online chats. They may find themselves missing meetings, neglecting work or skipping family functions in order to feed their addictions. Some sex addicts report stopping for sex on their way to meet family members and friends, and then never arriving for their meetings. They may lose their jobs, their friends and their homes due to this neglect.
Some sex addicts also spend a significant amount of money on their addiction, buying pornography and paying for sex. People who participate in consensual sex with many partners in a series of affairs may spend money on dinners, flowers and gifts. These costs can quickly add up.
Some people with sex addictions perform illegal activities in order to feel a greater rush from their sexual exploits. They may show their genitals, participate in child abuse or participate in prostitution. These people may face imprisonment for their activities.
Sexual partners of people with a sex addiction face mental and physical challenges of their own. The partner might obtain a sexually transmitted disease and give it to the other partner, who may never know that the disease exists until severe symptoms develop. Couples also face significant emotional challenges during sex addiction, as the non-addicted partner may feel incredibly lost and rejected when the addiction comes to light and the behavior is revealed. If the addict has been engaging in a series of affairs, the relationship could simply end.
It’s difficult to know why some people develop sexual addictions and others do not, but researchers suspect that sex addictions go hand in hand with other mental health issues. In one study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 39 percent of people who had a sex addiction also had symptoms of major depression and 64 percent had a substance abuse problem. Personality disorders were also quite prevalent in this group. It’s possible that these mental health problems caused changes in the brain that made sex addiction more likely.
It’s also possible that brain injuries play a role in sex addiction. The frontal lobe of the brain, often known as the seat of personality and appropriate behavior, might send inaccurate signals after an injury, and this could cause sex addiction. In a study published in the journal Epilepsy and Behavior, people who had injuries to this part of the brain developed hypersexual behavior. Some also developed seizures as a result of their injuries.
Finding the Problem
Since outward signs are of no real help in spotting a sexual addiction, the person must be interviewed in order for a true diagnosis to be made. After all, the difference between healthy sexual behavior and sexual addiction is often a matter of how the person feels about the behavior itself. Therapists generally ask these questions of people who might have a sexual addiction:
- Do you think you’re overly preoccupied with sex?
- Are you constantly looking for new sex partners, even when you know it’s not appropriate?
- Are you worried about your sexual activity level?
- Have you been driven to do things you wouldn’t normally do?
- Does stress, anger or sadness drive you to have sex?
- Have you tried to limit your sexual activity, or tried to stop performing certain acts, and found that you’re unable to?
- Have you missed appointments, work or social engagements because you’re having sex instead?
- Preoccupation with talking about sex, or commenting on the sexual attractiveness of others
- Increasing need to be alone, to engage in sexual acts
- Large numbers of affairs or sexual partners
- Arrests for sexual acts
People who do have a sex addiction can get help, and they can improve. Some may need to talk about abuse that happened to them in childhood, so they can put the hurt behind them and move forward. Others need to deal with their substance abuse or mental health disorders. Talk therapies can be quite effective, and some people also benefit from medications to ease their anxieties. In addition, some 12-step programs provide group meetings for sex addicts, so they can learn from one another and develop coping skills they can use in the real world.
Help begins when the addict admits that sex is a problem. This can be the hardest part of the entire recovery process. You can help someone you love by asking questions and listening to the person’s honest responses. Then, you’ll be ready to direct the person to therapies that can help. If you think someone you love has a sexual addiction, it’s time to have that talk.
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