The term sexual addiction is used to describe the behavior of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or obsession with sex.
Sex and the thought of sex tend to dominate the sex addicted person’s thinking, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships. Sex addicts engage in distorted thinking, often rationalizing and justifying their behavior and blaming others for problems. They generally deny they have a problem and make excuses for their actions.
A person with a sex addiction engages in various forms of sexual activity, despite the potential for negative or dangerous consequences.
Sexual addiction is, in its simplest form, a normal sex drive that has become obsessive, to the point that behavior is out of control. Sexual addiction is referred to as a ‘process’ addiction, as opposed to a substance addiction like alcohol or drugs.
In a process addiction, the euphoric feeling comes from chemicals released into the brain, rather than from an external source. As the mind becomes accustomed to the release of these chemicals, it searches out for continued sources of that high.
This could be from eating, the adrenaline rush of competition, putting yourself in dangerous situations, or from sexual stimuli.
Sexual addiction also is associated with risk-taking. A person with a sex addiction engages in various forms of sexual activity, despite the potential for negative or dangerous consequences.
In addition to damaging the addicted one’s relationships and interfering with his or her work and social life, a sexual addiction also puts the person at risk for emotional and physical injury.
For some people, the sex addiction progresses to involve illegal activities, such as exhibitionism, making obscene phone calls, or molestation.
Behaviors associated with sexual addiction include, compulsive masturbation, multiple affairs, multiple or anonymous sexual partners and/or one-night stands, consistent use of pornography, unsafe sex, phone or computer sex, prostitution or use of prostitutes, exhibitionism, obsessive dating, voyeurism, sexual harassment, molestation etc.
Generally, a person with a sex addiction gains little satisfaction from the sexual activity and forms no emotional bond with his or her sex partners. In addition, the problem of sex addiction often leads to feelings of guilt and shame. A sex addict also feels a lack of control over the behavior, despite negative consequences.
Most sex addicts live in denial of their addiction, and treating an addiction is dependent on the person accepting and admitting that he or she has a problem. In many cases, it takes a significant event -- such as the loss of a job, the break-up of a marriage, an arrest, or health crisis to force the addict to admit to his or her problem.
Treatment of sexual addiction focuses on controlling the addictive behavior and helping the person develop a healthy sexuality. Treatment includes education about healthy sexuality, individual counseling, and marital and family therapy.
In some cases, medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder may be used to curb the compulsive nature of the sex addiction.