Hypersexuality and Addiction

Category : Sex Addiction Information

Hypersexuality and AddictionThere can be psychological and physiological connections between hypersexuality and addiction. Drugs and alcohol can affect the same sections of the brain that are also responsible for reinforcing behaviors, forming and recalling memories, managing anxiety and controlling impulses. Changes in the chemical makeup of the brain can lead to chemical dependency, psychological dysfunction and compulsive behaviors. If left untreated, these disorders can lead to serious physical, emotional and relational issues.

Understanding Hypersexuality

While mental health professionals have not yet come to a consensus on the exact nature of hypersexuality or sex addiction, the condition is often described as any compulsive need to engage in sexual behavior that causes anxiety, depression, tension or other negative effects. This condition can be the result of medicinal side effects, physiological brain damage, learned behaviors, sexual abuse, childhood neglect, dementia and bipolar disorder. Symptoms of hypersexuality can include the following:

  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Obsession with sexual thoughts
  • Regular sexual activity with a variety of partners
  • Risky sexual behavior such as cutting, burning or auto-erotic asphyxiation
  • Inability to abstain from behavior that leads to sexual arousal or orgasm

A wide range of behaviors and emotions are controlled by a fragile system of chemical signals in the reward center of the brain. In addition to sleeping, eating and feelings of wellness, sexual behavior is driven by this part of the brain. The brain naturally releases positive chemicals during and after sex that reinforce the behavior, which can be similar to the chemical stimulation caused by drug and alcohol use. Some sex addicts may find themselves unable to control their sexual behavior in the same way a drug or alcohol addict has difficulty resisting cravings.

Compulsive Sexual Behavior and Substance Abuse

Those who are unable to control their sexual urges will often respond to the resulting frustration by self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. The result can be a complex combination of physical and psychological disorders. If left untreated, this can lead to potentially life-threatening symptoms including the following:

  • Depression
  • Physical harm due to risky or extreme sexual activities
  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Drug or alcohol overdose
  • Loneliness
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Rehabilitation for Hypersexuality and Addiction

The basic principles and tactics used to treat chemical dependency can also be effective at treating hypersexuality. While a variety of treatment approaches are available, it can often be most effective to seek inpatient rehab at a specialized facility. Addiction recovery experts can develop individualized treatment plans for each patient that draw upon therapeutic tools including the following:

  • Individual counseling
  • Support group meetings
  • 12-step treatments
  • Education
  • Dual Diagnosis treatment of psychological disorders and chemical dependency
  • Behavioral detox
  • Introduction to healthy coping and diversion skills
  • Strategic preparation for living a sober life after rehab

Professional treatment programs can help treat all aspects of an addiction, including physical, psychological and chemical.

Finding Treatment for Hypersexuality and Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with hypersexuality and addiction, please call our toll-free helpline now. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to help connect you with treatment resources for your specific needs and situation. Restoration of your physical, emotional and relational health is possible when you get the help you need. Please call now.