Sex Addiction Signs: When Does it Become an Addiction?

    Sex Addiction Signs: When Does it Become an Addiction?

    To this date, there is no clean-cut description or categorization for sex addiction (also known as compulsive sexual behavior). However, we cannot discredit the fact that this is a problem that many individuals undergo and require help for. The reason it is so hard to classify sex addiction is because we are unsure if it really is an addictive disorder, since it may also be considered an impulse-control disorder, or a variant of compulsive disorders. What are then some sex addiction signs?

    The sex addiction signs are similar to that of all addictions. When people undergo any kind of addiction, they experience similar things:

    • A loss of control or inhibition
    • Compulsive behavior
    • An effort to stop their addiction that eventually fail
    • A loss of time and preoccupation due to their addiction
    • Distress towards their work, school, family, and/ or friends
    • Self-destructive behavior cycle that interferes with all aspects of their life

    Sex Addicts vs Sex Offenders

    It is important to distinguish the difference between these two terms. Any sort of addiction is a medical disorder while offenses or crimes refer to illegal activities. While some sex offenders may be sex addicts, sex addiction itself is not a crime and not all people with sex addiction go on to become sex offenders.

    What Makes Sexual Behavior Abnormal?

    It is very much normal to have sexual urges and desires. In fact, having particular fetishes are normal to an extent. However, it becomes abnormal when sexual behaviors turn into something that cannot be controlled. It ruins relationships with others, affects your work, makes you feel guilt and shame. It becomes abnormal when sex is used as an escape from other problems in your life.

    What are the Specific Sex Addiction Signs?

    There are no clear signs and symptoms for sex addiction, as people may present very differently depending on the causes of their addiction. However, you may be able to identify if you are addicted to sex when you exhibit the following:

    • Trouble making/ establishing and maintaining healthy and stable relationships with the people you care about.
    • You proceed with sexual behaviors and acts despite the serious consequences they may bring.
    • Uses compulsive sexual behavior as a coping mechanism to escape from problems occurring in other aspects of your life (loneliness, anxiety, depression, stress, etc.)
    • You have tried but eventually failed in controlling your sexual urges or behavior.
    • You feel compelled to do certain sexual acts or behaviors and afterward, feel a release of tension followed by guilt or remorse.
    • Intense and recurrent sexually themed fantasies or urges; these take up much of your time, making you feel as though you are helpless/ out of control

    Finding Help

    If you feel like you need to seek help, it may help if you can identify the signs mentioned above, but also keep the following in mind while making the decision to find help:

    • Does my sexual behavior bring unwanted distress to my day-to-day life?
    • Are my sexual impulses manageable? Have I tried to manage them in the past? Was it successful?
    • Do I actively try to keep my sexual behavior/ tendencies hidden from others?
    • Does my sexual behavior/ impulses hurt my relationships? My work? My social standing?

    If any of these are true for you, you may need to seek professional help, especially if you feel like you may harm other people, yourself, and are particularly impulsive (feeling like your sexual behavior is slipping out of control).

    Can Sex Addiction be Treated?

    Several options are available for the treatment of sex addiction, such as:

    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
    • Motivational Enhancement Therapy
    • Psychodynamic Therapy
    • Group Therapy
    • Couples Therapy

    Which therapy will be effective varies from person to person. But it is important that you realize that help is available. You are not alone, you can recover. And the sooner you reach out for help, the sooner you can deal with your behavior.

    Key Takeaways

    Compulsive sexual behavior, also known as sex addiction, although without proper classification in the DSM-V, is a condition that can negatively affect one’s life. It can make one feel helpless, distressed, and can ruin relationships with other people as well as affect work.

    There are several signs that you may have sex addiction, the most important being the impairment it brings to your day-to-day life. There are several therapeutics available for people. However, the most difficult part of treatment is initiating it, since the condition is often associated with shame and guilt. Consult your doctor for the best treatment plan.

    Learn more about Sex Wellness here.

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

    Sources

    Compulsive Sexual Behavior, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/compulsive-sexual-behavior/symptoms-causes/syc-20360434, Accessed on January 11, 2021

    Sex Addiction, Neuroscience Trauma, and More, https://www.naadac.org/assets/2416/stefanie_carnes_neuroscience-trauma_ac16.pdf, Accessed on January 11, 2021

    Understanding and Managing Compulsive Sexual Behaviors, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2945841/, Accessed on January 11, 2021

    Sexual Addiction and Pornography Addiction, https://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=48517&cn=1408, Accessed on January 11, 2021

    Sex Addiction Treatment, https://americanaddictioncenters.org/sex-addiction, Accessed on January 11, 2021

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    Written by Gerard Tamayo Updated Jul 15
    Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD