Am I at Risk for Sexual Addiction?

Category : Sex Addiction Information

Am I at Risk for Sexual Addiction?Sexual addiction is increasingly gaining recognition as a bona fide addictive disorder. However, professionals do not understand the exact nature, definition or causes of sexual addiction. Societal concepts of what constitutes healthy sexuality are subjective and depend on a variety of factors, including culture, upbringing and religious philosophy. Consequently, a precise, universal definition of sex addiction does not exist. It may help to consider a practical definition of addiction as compulsively or obsessively engaging in a destructive behavior despite negative consequences.

Signs of Sexual Addiction

Signs of sex addiction include the following:

  • Preoccupation with sexual thoughts or fantasies
  • Excessive, compulsive or habitual masturbation
  • Compulsive or habitual use of pornography
  • Anonymous sex
  • Sex with multiple partners
  • Multiple extramarital affairs
  • Illegal sexual behaviors such as use of prostitutes, sexual assault, rape or child molestation
  • Inability to stop or control destructive sexual behavior despite negative consequences

If you engage in any of these behaviors, sex addiction may be the cause.

Risk Factors for Sexual Addiction

Due to the inexact understanding of sex addiction it is impossible to define an exact cause-and-effect relationship between sex addiction and underlying causes. However, sex addiction is seen more frequently in certain sub groups, suggesting that certain factors put some people at higher risk than others of developing this addiction. Sex addicts often come from families with a history of addiction, suggesting a significant genetic link to sex addiction.

People with other psychological disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, impulse control disorders and other forms of addiction have a higher incidence of sex addiction than the general population. There are a variety of possible explanations for this. People with low levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are at increased risk of addiction. Low levels of these neurotransmitters come from genetic, physiological or biochemical reasons. Addiction to recreational drugs often lowers levels of these neurotransmitters, especially during abstinence or withdrawal and they may precipitate sex addiction.

Many sex addicts have trust or intimacy issues stemming from childhood experiences of neglect, abuse or trauma. Professionals do not fully understand why childhood trauma leads to sex addiction, but a large percentage of sex addicts have a history of abuse and/or come from dysfunctional families. Suffering abuse or trauma may decrease levels of neurotransmitters, which increases the risk of developing an addiction to sex. Survivors of childhood abuse may have conflicted ideas about love, intimacy and sexuality; they may have unmet emotional needs and seek through dysfunctional sexual behaviors. Furthermore, sex addiction may result from an attempt to self-medicate emotional pain.

Treatment for Sexual Addiction

Addiction to destructive sexual behaviors can cause serious problems, but professional counseling can treat these issues and allow patients to regain control of their sexual impulses. If compulsive sexual behavior is causing problems in your life, treatment is available that can help. If you need help finding treatment for sex addiction, or if you simply have questions about sex addiction and treatment, call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline today.