Many people don’t need an addiction to make bad decisions concerning sex, so imagine the missteps for those with a legitimate condition. Unfortunately addicts often resist seeking help because of public misconceptions. Sex addiction is often mocked as a copout for those caught cheating, and celebrities have turned the addiction into comic fodder and tabloid gold. A new reality series called Bad Sex hopes to show the realities of sexual addiction, but more education is essential. Broken relationships and STDs are just the basic consequences of this addiction that can destroy a life.
What Is a Sex Addict?
No single behavior, sign or symptom defines sex addiction. The American Society of Addiction Medicine sees addiction as a, “disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” Gambling, overeating and sex are behavioral or process addictions related to brain chemistry, and they don’t require a needle, pill or pipe. Sex addiction is also called an impulse control disorder, and sex addiction can occur when neural pathways fail to send a satiated message and leave the body craving more. The following are signs that a person may have a problem related to sexual behavior:
- An ongoing pattern of failing to resist inappropriate sex acts
- An inability to bring sexual drive under control
- A willingness to engage in risky sexual behavior
- An overwhelming preoccupation with seeking sex or other release
- Sexual compulsion Limits social occasions and interactions
- Anxiety, restlessness or other conditions occur when failing to have sex
- Sexual needs affect finances, relationships and employment
- The behavior continues even with the knowledge that there may be a problem
How common is sexual addiction? Exact figures are not available, but the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health estimates that over nine million people may have this condition.
Dangers of Sex Addiction
A sex addict can contract sexual diseases, overextend finances and make meaningful relationships difficult, but the real dangers of sex addiction run much deeper. Sex addiction often co-occurs with disorders such as the following:
- Manic depression or bipolar disorder
- Hypomania or mania
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
Shame and depression are also common side effects of the addiction, and these feelings can lead to other addictions or relapses. Sex addiction and related concerns lead to poor decision making and the potential to make the worst decision at all—to not get help.
How to Treat Sex Addiction
Sex addiction specialist Patrick Carnes suggests that many addicts act as they do, because they are unable to deal with pain or emotional discomfort in a healthy way. Proper treatment involves behavioral therapies that stop the addiction process at the starting gate. Addiction treatment can do the following:
- Look for other conditions that might cause or supercharge the addiction
- Address feelings or mood disorders might arise during recovery
- Help repair relationships that were damaged by addiction
- Treat any and all co-occurring disorders or mental health issues
- Create a comprehensive game plan to tackle the condition
- Offer group support and aftercare counseling
Ending sexual addiction doesn’t mean abstinence. Proper treatment is about recognizing other conditions, reorganizing destructive behaviors and finding a healthy balance in life.
Help Ending Sexual Addiction
Sex addiction is best treated through professional help, and our professionals are available 24 hours a day through our toll-free helpline. We can answer questions, check insurance policies for coverage and explain what to expect if treatment is necessary. Make the right decision, call now and let us help today.