backup og meta
Health Screening
Ask Doctor

How is Sex Addiction Treated: Diagnosis and Management

Expertly reviewed by Jessica Espanto, LPT, MA, RPsy · Psychology · In Touch Community Services

Written by Dan Navarro · Updated Jul 28, 2022

How is Sex Addiction Treated: Diagnosis and Management

Why do people engage in sex? Depending on your beliefs and traditional background, you may perceive sex as an act that brings pleasure, provides romantic intimacy, or a means to continue one’s family line. However, abnormal urges can lead to compulsive sexual behaviors or sex addiction. It can end up leading to behaviors that can be harmful to you, your home and work life, and your relationships. Read on to learn about sex addiction, and how is sex addiction treated.

What is sex addiction?

Sex addiction happens when you experience compulsive sexual urges and engage in sexual activities significantly more often (over the span of at least 6 months), to the point of losing a lot of time to it, experiencing loss of control, and feeling a dependence on practicing sexual activities. It may reach a point where acting on the behaviors may be harmful to you and the people around you.

This condition may encompass various excessive and compulsive sexual engagements, such as:

  • Sexual intercourse (with multiple partners)
  • Consumption of pornography
  • Masturbation
  • Engaging in cybersex
  • Access to prostitution
  • Voyeurism
  • Illegal sexual practices

This condition may be intensified further due to accessibility to sexual content and privacy in doing compulsive acts.

If left untreated, according to the American Addiction Centers, you may experience more intense urges that can lead to serious effects, including:

  • Personal damages
  • Health risks
  • Occupational risks
  • Substance abuse
  • Legal consequences

When to call a doctor?

Admitting that there is a problem in controlling one’s sexual behavior and urges can be difficult for people with symptoms of sex addiction. According to the American Addiction Centers, people with this condition are hesitant in seeking help in addressing the problem. However, this hesitation may lead to adverse effects on their social and personal life.

Seeking help in treating the issue can benefit those with symptoms of sex addiction. The first step for this is to recognize and assess the signs of compulsive sexual behavior early on. You can look for signs that suggest that your sexual behaviors are not under control, or that they adversely affect your and other people’s wellbeing.

Treating sex addiction

Sex addiction is a burden that intensifies over time, leading to more destructive behavior that can further bring adverse effects to one’s wellbeing, or the wellbeing of others.

How is sex addiction diagnosed and treated? This condition can be addressed through a wide range of treatment programs that aim to bring back control of your sexual urges and lessen compulsive behaviors in response to sexual urges. These treatments include the following:


Also known as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy involves one-on-one counseling with doctors or therapists. In this way, patients may learn to manage compulsive behaviors and urges that manifest in sex addiction. Under this are the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Therapists help patients in identifying and facing negative thoughts and triggers associated with their addiction. Patients learn coping mechanisms that can be useful in positively managing the urges.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – This involves patients’ acceptance of the existence of these behaviors and urges while also committing to properly addressing such triggers related to their addiction. It also involves going back to values that reflect one’s beliefs.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy – This involves addressing one’s “emotional development and attachment styles” by looking through one’s childhood experience and history.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy – After this, individuals may be motivated to properly address their sexual urges.
  • Couples Therapy – This form of therapy is useful for couples whose sex addiction has been a factor in their strained relationship.


Some medications can be taken to address and reduce the compulsive urges and behaviors connected to sex addiction, such as:

  • Antidepressants such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs can help in treating depression and obsessive compulsion that also manifest in sex addiction.
  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol) is useful in addressing alcohol and opiate dependence. However, this can also address compulsive behaviors related to sex addiction.
  • Mood stabilizers that usually address bipolar disorder can help in lessening excessive sexual urges.
  • Anti-androgens reduce the “biological effects of sex hormones” in men. This includes sexual urges.

Support groups

  • Self-help groups – These groups can provide additional support for individuals trying to address sex addiction. Most groups follow a 12-step recovery program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Inpatient or residential treatment –Under this treatment, individuals they will stay at a recovery center for some time to focus on their recovery from sex addiction.

Key takeaway

Compulsive sexual behavior or sex addiction is a disorder that constitutes excessive sexual urges and triggers that affect various aspects of one’s well-being. It also affects the wellbeing of the people around you. This loss of control over one’s sexual behavior can grow and intensify over time and can lead to more destructive behaviors.

How is sex addiction treated? Various therapies and medications are available to assist you in dealing with this kind of addiction. Among the first steps is to recognize the existence of these urges and the need to address the problem.

Learn more about Healthy Minds here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Expertly reviewed by

Jessica Espanto, LPT, MA, RPsy

Psychology · In Touch Community Services

Written by Dan Navarro · Updated Jul 28, 2022

ad iconadvertisement

Was this article helpful?

ad iconadvertisement
ad iconadvertisement