Am I Addicted to Masturbation?
A wide variety of behaviors can become habitual and even addictive. Sexual addiction includes compulsive use of pornography, hiring prostitutes, excessive consensual sex with various partners and frequent and uncontrollable masturbation. These problems can be every bit as controlling and dangerous as drug or alcohol addiction. Sex addiction often requires careful, professional treatment for an addict to regain a healthy mental and physical life.
How Does Sex Addiction Happen?
The brain controls behavioral functions through a system of chemical signals and responses. The brain secretes hormones and other natural substances to manage the following functions:
- Sexual attraction
- Learning and memory
This system reinforces certain behaviors and forms habits. When functioning properly it reinforces positive acts such as a healthy diet, relational connectivity, optimism for the future, self-confidence, healthy risk taking and even a motivation to exercise. But, this same system can also reinforce negative behaviors such as self-injury, unhealthy thrill-seeking and compulsive sexual behavior. Some people are born with a heightened sensitivity in the reward center of their brain, while others develop compulsions after sexual abuse or trauma.
Symptoms of Sex Addiction
The following symptoms of sex addiction are similar to those of other behavioral addictions:
- Constant sexual thoughts
- Masturbating daily or multiple times per day
- Uncontrollable need to view pornography
- Relational distance from real people in your life
- Depression that is made worse after sexual activity
If you have been unable to stop masturbating after you want to quit, there is a good chance you have a sex addiction. If untreated, this could lead to lifelong pain, substance abuse, loneliness, risky behavior, disease or even accidental death. Like other addictions, compulsive sexual activity is usually progressive. The brain develops a tolerance for the chemical spikes caused by masturbation and may drive addicts to engage in riskier activities such as auto-erotic asphyxiation (strangling).
How to Treat Sex Addiction
Sex addicts often respond to rehab programs that use the following therapeutic tools:
- Detox from sex through accountability and abstinence
- Identification and treatment of any co-occurring psychological issues
- Personal counseling
- Support group meetings when appropriate
- Education about the causes, functioning and effective treatment of sex addiction
Residential treatment removes patient from access to sexually explicit materials that abound in our culture. It is a great way for addicts to focus on recovery so they can reintegrate themselves into the real world.
Sex Addiction Help
If you are concerned that your compulsive sexual activity is an addiction, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline right away. Our counselors can answer any questions about sex addiction and can explain different treatment options. The call is completely confidential so you have nothing to lose. Sex addiction is a lonely and dangerous road. Find freedom today.
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