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What Is Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction is a compulsive behavioral pattern in which the individual has trouble controlling their sexual urges, thoughts and behaviors.


While it is difficult for specialists to pinpoint the origin of sex addiction, it has been commonly associated with psychological disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a form of sex addiction is diagnosed in the DSM-IV-TR published in 2000 as “distress about a pattern of repeated sexual relationships involving a succession of lovers who are experienced by the individual only as things to be used.” This includes compulsive masturbation and fixations on an unattainable sex partner. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD), published by the World Health Organization, includes “excessive sexual drive” as a diagnosis.

Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms of sex addiction include recurring and intense sexual urges, fantasies and behaviors. A sex addict may turn to sexual behaviors or activities to help them cope with a stressful situation or as a result of a psychological disorder. Symptoms also include compulsive sex acts that disregard the emotional and physical health and safety of the addict themselves or their partner. As in other addictions, the need to satisfy the sexual cravings will increase if proper treatment isn’t sought out. A sex addict will resort to compulsive masturbation, cybersex, phone sex, hiring of prostitutes, frequently visiting strip clubs and high doses of pornography.

Sex Addiction Treatment

Sex addiction treatment may vary from one individual to another. For some sex addicts, psychological counseling and rehabilitation is recommended. Individuals with destructive thoughts and repeated cases of behavioral changes may benefit more from inpatient sex addiction treatment centers. Inpatient treatment involves one-on-one counseling, interaction with support groups and physical examinations. Sex addicts in the sex addiction treatment centers are encouraged to interact with other addicts who understand the recovery process and help build a solid support group. In some cases, the addict is encouraged to include family members during the recovery process. Social interaction and a strong support system helps the addict combat their addiction effectively.

Recovery and support groups help sex addicts in sharing their thoughts while staying comfortable throughout their sex addiction recovery process. Groups include Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous.

Sex addiction is an addiction that requires a comprehensive therapeutic approach. Individuals coping with sex addiction can face loneliness, depression and in severe cases, suicide. Sometimes, sex addicts are unable to maintain their despair and as a result, have a tendency to commit crimes. While many assume sex addiction is for pleasure and fun, it can sometimes be a major result of depression, suffering and other mental health disorders.

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