According to the American Psychiatric Association, there is no diagnosis for this addiction. In part, this is because sex addiction is not understood and is difficult to diagnose. What could be healthy thoughts in one person might be compulsive and all-consuming thoughts in another.
With this said, sex addiction – otherwise known as hypersexuality or hypersexual disorder – is a real issue. It can destroy relationships. It can cause unproductivity, and it can create neglect in other areas of life. It can even result in illegal activity and harm to a person.
Over-consumption in porn, masturbation, sex for payment and multiple partners all constitute towards an addiction. A person addicted to these things may feel distressed in other areas of their life, like work and relationships.
What is sex addiction?
Like all addiction, sex addiction is a compulsive need to perform sexual acts to achieve a ‘release’, ‘escape’ or ‘fix’. Like alcohol addiction or gambling addiction, the habitual undertone behind sex addiction is almost identical to most other addictive activities. A surefire sign of sex addiction is the prioritization of sex above all other areas of life, and to do so even at the detriment of those areas.
Like drugs or alcohol dependence, sex addiction has can impact a person’s physical and mental health, quality of life and personal safety. It shouldn’t be confused with bestiality or paedophilia, but treatment should be sought as soon as possible to mitigate any harm.
Sex addiction doesn’t feature in the latest edition of the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). But, it is a real problem that people are going to seek help for and deserve to be helped for. Nobody should suffer from anything, and that’s why places like Tikvah Lake Recovery exist.
Sex addiction statistics
Sex is very much a fundamental part of life. While a strong libido is healthy, a dependency on sex is harmful to a person’s mind and body. But it’s not sex that causes such harm. More than 72 million worldwide internet users visit adult sites per month. What’s more, about 12 percent of total websites on the internet are pornographic.
Access to sexual content that can lead to an addiction is ever-present, even more so than alcohol or tobacco products.
Some other statistics about this type of addiction include:
- 42.7 percent of internet users view pornography
- According to The National Council on Sexual Addiction Compulsivity, an approximated six to eight percent of Americans are sex addicts.
Signs and symptoms of sex addiction
This addiction is oftentimes hidden behind a wall of shame and denial, much like most other addictions. Because there are few physical signs and symptoms that appear through addiction, it can be challenging for other people to spot this addiction. It is easy for someone to hide it from their loved ones.
But, like many compulsive or process addictions, there are many symptoms present, including:
- The inability to stop, resist or control the urge to engage in sexual activity
- Frequently having sex with more than one partner
- Needing to engage in sexual behaviors over a long period of time
- Obsessing with the actions of sexual activity
- Constantly participating in sex regardless of the negative consequences
- Unable to fulfil occupational, academic or domestic obligations because of sex
- The need to increase the level of risk or intensity involved in sex
As a consequence of sex addiction, there are many negative side effects that can perpetuate an addiction, too.
Side effects of sex addiction
An addiction to sex is complicated. It can be difficult to navigate through a normal day of work, to maintain a happy and healthy sex life and to remain an active member of a community. Further, it’s often hard to put other people’s needs before one’s own.
Some emotional side effects of sex addiction include:
- Low self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Guilt and embarrassment
- Anxiety about getting caught or judged
- Anger and frustration
- OCD tendencies
Some physical effects include:
- Sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Hepatitis B or C
There are also some harmful social consequences involved in, too, including:
- Reclusiveness and self-isolation
- Broken family relationships
- Legal troubles
- Loss of career
- Financial devastation
Treatment for sex addiction
Because this addiction isn’t categorized in the DSM-5 and isn’t classified as something diagnosable, it can sometimes be tricky to treat. But if a person is engaging in sexual behaviors to a point of addiction, and it is causing distress or any of the negative side effects listed above, there are treatment options available. Places like Tikvah Lake Recovery offer personalized, professional recovery programs, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Individual counselling
- Group therapy sessions
- Wellness and holistic treatment approaches
Treatments like this help a sex addict return to their daily life without the compulsive need to find and engage in sex. As a consequence, it’ll help a person:
- Rebuild relationships
- Manage stress
- Identify and consciously ignore triggers for sexual thoughts
- Turning to alternative behaviors that are less destructive
To find out more about sex addiction and how to treat it, contact an expert at Tikvah Lake Recovery today.