“Sex Addiction: Breaking Through the Stigma”
The subject of sex addiction is often met with a degree of derogatory judgement, even though it is a legitimate disorder and should be treated as such. In the United States, roughly 3-6% of adults struggle with a form of sex addiction. These people are dealing with deep emotional and psychological pain that often drives them to unhealthy and destructive behaviors.
To the outside world, sex addiction likely looks completely different depending on the individual. A person might attempt to hid their sex addiction and keep it completely private, or they could be more open about it and search out help. Regardless, all sex addicts are dealing with an incredibly difficult and potentially shameful condition.
In this article, we will discuss the definition of sex addiction, the signs and symptoms, the consequences of sex addiction, and available treatment options. With a greater understanding of what sex addiction is and how it affects people, we can help to break down the stigma and create a greater acceptance and respect for those living with sex addiction.
What Is Sex Addiction?
Sex addiction is often referred to as hypersexual disorder, sexual compulsivity, or compulsive sexual behavior. Sex addiction is defined as a disorder where an individual is unable to control their frequent and intense urges to engage in sexual activity. It involves a preoccupation with sexual fantasies, behaviors, and urges that a person struggles to control despite understanding the potential danger and harm that can come from engaging in such behavior.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not currently include sex addiction as a conventional disorder, but it can be diagnosed through psychological evaluations and treated through psychotherapy. Sexual activities can be differentiated from other addictions by the absence of a physical object—that is, the person is addicted to the sexual experience itself as opposed to a drug or alcohol.
Signs and Symptoms of Sex Addiction
People with sex addiction typically struggle to control their sexual urges and sexual behavior. This can include compulsive viewing of pornography, excessive masturbation, multiple or frequent affairs, dangerous risk-taking with sexual partners, and engaging in prostitution or other forms of transactional sex.
Other signs of sex addiction include preoccupation with sexual thoughts, compulsive sexual behaviors that lead to feelings of shame or guilt, frequent denial of the problem, attempts to limit exposure to certain types of or sources of sexual activity, and a lack of control over sexual behaviors despite negative consequences. People with sex addiction may also find it difficult to develop intimate relationships with people, experience extreme anxiety, depression, or other mental health complications.
Consequences of Sex Addiction
Sex addiction can have both short-term and long-term consequences. In the short term, individuals might struggle with feelings of guilt and shame which can lead to further addictive behavior and may also limit their ability to form meaningful connections with other people. In the long term, sex addiction can lead to alienation, loss of employment, legal issues, and financial strain as they money and resources are used to satisfy their urges.
Additionally, sex addiction can lead to physical complications. This could include a rise in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as well as unplanned pregnancies. Further, the lifestyle of someone who is dealing with a sex addiction can also lead to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Treatment Options for Sex Addiction
Understandably, many people who suffer from sex addiction are too embarrassed to seek help. However, treatment for sex addiction is available and is actually quite effective. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is used to help the individual gain a better understanding of the underlying root causes of the addiction and learn how to alter destructive behaviors.
Group therapy is also a great option, as it allows the individual to start to form connections and gain advice and perspective from others who are sharing a similar struggle. Inpatient treatment is yet another common treatment option for sex addiction, as it provides a safe and secure space for a person to work through their issues without being distracted or influenced by external influences.
In conclusion, sex addiction is a real issue that is often met with disdain and stigma. People who have sex addiction can’t simply ‘just stop’—they require professional help and support to work through their issues and lead healthier and happier lives. With a greater understanding of what sex addiction is and how it affects people, we can help to break down the stigma and create a greater acceptance and respect for those living with sex addiction.