Feb 20, 2014 | By Tim Stoddart

What is Sex Addiction?

Mental Health

Sex addiction is a taboo topic for many people, but it is important not to pretend that it doesn’t exist. By understanding sex addiction a little better, you can help yourself or others around you who might suffer from this disorder.

sex addiction

What is Sex Addiction?

Many people are confused by the idea of sex addiction, and some even wonder if it’s a legitimate problem. Yet, sex addiction is a very real disorder that affects many individuals and households on a daily basis. In fact, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy estimates that 12 million people suffer from sex addiction in the United States alone. Even though millions of individuals are affected by this disorder, however, many people are confused by the idea of sex addiction.

Even though many people think that sex addiction simply refers to an individual who has too much sex, the problem is actually much deeper than that. Those who suffer from this addiction typically continuously participate in sexual behavior that often escalates and causes negative consequences. For example, those who have a sex addiction may continue to participate in risky, dangerous or otherwise unpleasant sexual encounters no matter how badly it affects their lives, such as by ruining their relationships, causing them to be arrested or causing illness. Many people sincerely try to stop on their own but find it impossible to do so, such as with individuals who suffer from other types of addictions.

How are People Affected by Sex Addiction?

Individuals with sex addictions act in different ways, and some start with seemingly harmless activities before escalating to more serious behavior. Some affected individuals simply watch too much pornography on television or the computer or masturbate constantly. Others constantly look for sexual relationships with the sole intent of having sex without any commitment.

Some move on to much worse patterns of behavior, however; for example, some have unprotected sex with prostitutes, and some even move on to rape or child molestation. Obviously, these behaviors can have serious negative effects on the affected individuals and the people around them. Some lose their jobs, their families and more. Some contract sexually transmitted diseases, and some end up in jail or prison. Many end up in poor financial situations due to money spent on pornography, prostitution and other things to feed their addictions.

What’s the Difference Between Sex Addiction and Other Types of Addictions?

When many people think of addiction problems, they often think of drugs or alcohol. Although sex addiction is obviously a completely different issue, it does have some things in common with more traditional addictions.

Individuals who are affected by sex addiction lose control and find it next to impossible to stop, regardless of how hard they might try. They also experience changes in their brain chemistry that are similar to those felt by those who have other types of addictions. However, there is no addictive ingredient or substance involved; in fact, it is quite the opposite because sex is supposed to be a normal and healthy behavior for adults. This can make treatment a bit more tricky, but there are treatment options for those who are affected.

What Causes Sex Addiction?

The behaviors related to sex addiction can often be traced back to family or childhood problems. Those who were molested, raped or involved in incest as a child often grow up to have sex addiction problems. Even those who experienced a lot of unhealthy sexual relationships as children, such as through the relationships of their parents, are sometimes affected in this manner.

Not everyone who suffers from a sex addiction does so because of bad childhood experiences, however. Some suffer from stress, anxiety, Bipolar disorder and other psychological issues. Many start down the wrong path due to a lack of intimacy, low self-esteem or other similar issues in their lives.

How to Get Help for a Sex Addiction

A sex addiction can be very dangerous and can ruin a person’s life. If you or someone who you love has a sex addiction, it is important to do something about it right now. Surprisingly, sex addiction is handled in a very similar fashion to other addictions, and there are rehabilitation clinics, group meetings, counseling offices and more that can help you or your loved one.

One response to “What is Sex Addiction?

  • Carol Reitmeier

    6 years ago

    Thank you for providing this space to say something about such an important issue. There is an international conference over Memorial weekend at the Oakland Marriott.

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