What Is Sexual Addiction?
Unlike some addictions, sexual addiction, also known as hyper-sexuality, is not considered a psychiatric disorder. However, for many people, it’s still a serious problem. Sex addicts have trouble with healthy, intimate relationships. Instead they engage compulsively in unhealthy sexual activities and act out sexual fantasies. This practice can be risky, dangerous, and have serious consequences for the sex addict and everyone involved.
Sexual activities can involve seeing prostitutes, frequenting strip clubs, having sex with multiple partners in one day (or at the same time), and compulsively cheating on a spouse. The sex addict may spend a lot of money on pornography, engage in pedophilia, have sex with strangers, practice bondage, act out fetishes, and engage in compulsive masturbation. Other activities can include rape, unprotected sex, exhibitionism, obscene phone calls, risky sex, voyeurism, and a host of other self-defeating and potentially harmful behaviors.
In spite of the risks and dangers involved, or maybe because of them, sex addicts are unable to control themselves or their participation in these activities. Many addicts continue to act out sexually until the consequences become unmanageable. Some sexual addicts confess to feeling relieved when they are caught, because they have lost the ability to restrain themselves. At this point, if the sex addict is not in jail, he or she might finally be willing and able to seek help.
What Causes Sexual Addiction?
It’s estimated that more than 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from hyper-sexuality. Sexual addiction is not about sex any more than a gambling addiction is about money or an overeating addiction is about food. The addiction is merely a symptom of deeper issues such as low self esteem, guilt, anxiety, stress, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTST).
Some studies suggest that men, gay men in particular, are most prone to sexual addiction. For the most part, sex addicts see any kind of social interaction or social activity as an opportunity to engage in sex. Over time, sex addicts must spend more and more time and money to feed their addictions. As is true with other addictions, sex addicts are unable to stop these activities without help, even though they fully understand the severity of the risks and the consequences involved.
Is There A Difference Between Sex Addicts, Child Molesters And Sex Offenders?
Some sex addicts are able to restrict their activities to compulsive masturbation, pornography, online sex, and phone sex. Other sex addicts are not so lucky. Sex addicts are not necessarily sex offenders, and not all sex offenders are sex addicts. However, there is overlap between the two. Fifty-five percent of sex offenders are considered sex addicts and 71 percent of child molesters are considered sex addicts. Some sex offenders and child molesters are so resistant to treatment that the only way to keep them from harming others is to imprison them. Sex offenders do not seek sexual gratification. They seek power, dominance, and control over others. Their behavior may be fueled by anger or a desire for revenge.
How Is Sexual Addiction Treated?
Sexual addiction is treated in the same way that other addictions are treated. All addictions share basically the same dynamic: They are activities that distract the addict from what is really going on underneath all the sexual acting out. Treatment options for sex addiction include:
o Cognitive and behavioral therapy
o Inpatient and outpatient treatment
o Treatment with antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, naltrexone, and male hormone suppressants
o Individual and group psychotherapy and counseling
o Sex Addicts Anonymous
o Sexaholics Anonymous
o Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
o Sexual Compulsives Anonymous
As with all addictions, the sooner treatment is started, the sooner recovery can begin. If you have a sexual addiction, don’t go it alone. With the support of treatment professionals and other recovering addicts, you can avoid the life-changing negative consequences that always show up sooner or later.