Common Causes of Sex Addiction

Category : Sex Addiction Information

Common Causes of Sex AddictionLike other addictions, sex addiction is often a dysfunctional reaction to stress, pressure or unresolved psychological or emotional issues. Sex addiction is not easy to identify, since sexual behavior is a normal aspect of human existence, and exactly when that behavior enters the realm of addiction can be difficult to determine. According to the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH) sex addiction can be defined as “a persistent and escalating pattern or patterns of sexual behaviors acted out despite increasingly negative consequences to self or others.”

Root Causes of Sex Addiction

Sex addiction occurs in both men and women. The specific root causes of sex addiction vary between men and women and between different individuals, but in general sex addiction is an attachment or intimacy disorder. As with other addictions, addicts are typically seeking escape or a “rush”, but it is usually unmet emotional needs that cause some people to seek escape through sexual behavior rather than another form of addiction.

The following are common underlying causes of sex addiction:

  • Genetic predisposition; a family history of addiction to substances or behaviors is an indicator of increased risk of addiction;
  • A history of neglect, trauma or sexual abuse as a child; there is a high correlation between sex addiction and childhood abuse of all types; a large percentage of sex addicts have a history of some type of abuse in childhood.
  • Lack of a fulfilling, emotionally intimate relationship;
  • A need to feel desired;
  • A search for excitement;
  • A need to feel in control.

Differences between Male and Female Sex Addicts

The term “sex addict” often brings to mind images of men who compulsively view pornography or visit prostitutes. However, sex addiction also occurs in females in a ratio roughly equivalent to that of other forms of addiction. According to research conducted by Dr. Patrick Carnes, females constitute 20% of patients seeking treatment for sex addiction. Since sex addiction in general, and especially among women, carries a social stigma, it is likely that many women suffer from sex addiction in some way but do not recognize the problem or seek treatment for it.

Females are much more likely than males to be survivors of childhood sexual abuse which may manifest itself in sex addiction later in life. Women tend to be more relationship oriented than men, and failure to satisfy emotional needs may result in sex addiction. Sex addiction in women may develop later in life, especially following a divorce, and may result from a need to feel desirable. According to sex therapist Catherine Blanc, sex addiction in females is “often symptomatic of relationship issues” while sex addiction in men is more likely to be “disconnected from feelings of love.”

Questions about Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction can be very destructive and often results in tremendous guilt, shame and self-loathing. Many sex addicts simply do not realize that they suffer from an addiction and can benefit from treatment. Treatment for sex addiction can help the patient to identify and understand the causes and issues that underlie the behavior, and to learn healthier and more effective means of coping.

If you or someone you know suffers from sex addiction and needs treatment, call our toll-free helpline. Counselors are available 24 hours a day who can answer any questions you may have or help you find treatment if you need it.