What Is Sexual Addiction?
Sexual addiction or dependency is a compulsive disorder that causes the inability to control ones sexual behavior that affects millions of people world-wide. A person with sexual addiction has excessive thoughts or behaviors relating to or obtaining a desired sexual effect. Those that suffer from this obsessive dependency suffer at work, with personal relationships, and other daily activities.
Some of the criterion associated with sexual addiction includes compulsive behavior resulting in adverse consequences. At first, these activities can be pleasurable. But the continued act becomes steadily compulsive until one becomes addicted. Some of these compulsive behaviors include pornography, multiple anonymous partners, repeated affairs, cyber-sex, prostitution, exhibitionism, and voyeurism to name a few.
The inability to control such sexual behaviors leads to depression, anxiety, and other emotional actions. Emotional coping is one way addicts use their addiction to experience a different way of stimulating the brain. Over time, the person becomes addicted pornography or other sexual stimulation to obtain feelings of gratification. But with that, other related issues like abandonment, fear, shame, or guilt are also linked to sexual addiction. Addicts can’t voluntarily disengage from sexual behavior, ending in consequences that disrupt the normal function of a person.
It’s important to recognize the complications that sexual addiction can impart on a person despite the negative consequences. Just like other addictions, these types of sexual behaviors seem to continue despite the effort to stop. Acting out sexually is usually a way to medicate or manage stress, pain, or even substitute for true intimacy. Some signs of sexual addiction include:
- Cybersex or phone sex
- Multiple Partners
- Compulsive masturbation
- Unsafe sexual activity
- Sexual paraphilia
- Preoccupation with having sex
These types of compulsive behaviors derive from mismanaged emotions which can later end in sexual compulsivity. Most often people don’t realize that there is treatment to manage their addiction, continuing to struggle no matter what the cost.
Is Sexual Addiction a Real Problem?
The causes of sexual addictions are complex. Many questions arise as to why some people have an inability to control their addictions while others are unaffected. Research provides unlimited sources of understanding as to what causes an addiction and how it can be facilitated.
To further shed some light on the subject, it might be best to look at the definition of what an addiction is. An addiction is a condition of any kind that takes total control over what a person is doing, thinking, or feeling. There are multiple addictions out there such as drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, and even an addiction to sexual behaviors. When the body responds to a pleasurable affect that becomes compulsive and incontrollable, interfering with one’s duties and responsibilities of everyday life, then one is known as having an addiction.
Sexual addiction can be termed as a progressive intimacy disorder that is categorized by compulsive sexual thoughts and behaviors. Once a person becomes an addict, there are negative implications that increase as the addiction progresses‒ such as infidelity or financial ruin. Over time, the addict must find gratification by intensifying their behavior just to achieve the same results.
Another way to define sexual addiction is when someone engages in persistent patterns of sexual behavior until they escalate out of control. Despite the negative consequences, those that have sexual addictions continue to engage in these types of behaviors that risk their health, create financial problems, and destroy relationships with family, friends, and employers. When sexual addiction becomes a problem, it is often due to a person’s inability to have a healthy response to stress, trauma, or anxiety that is caused from everyday life. More specifically, the addict is unable or unaware of the best way to correctly deal with the emotional mechanism which leads them to search out other ways to deal with their underlying emotions.
There are so many things that can cause addictions in today’s world. Compulsive behaviors arise from emotional links in the brain caused from overstimulation. When this type of behavior receives a feeling of pleasure, reward, or relief, it quickly becomes the primary relationship for the addict. Sexual addiction if often a way to cope with loneliness, anxiety, pain, depression or other painful emotions and stressors.
This becomes a real problem as addiction encompasses more than just a compulsive behavior to an emotional problem. It can also be associated with the inability to deal with feelings, exposure to traumatic events, distortions in a person’s ability to connect with self, or other dysfunctional belief patterns that trigger these specific emotions. This ultimately leads to an unhealthy way of living as the brain tries to reward the person for their addictive actions, thinking it is the only way to feel better. As a person continually encounters pornography or other sexual behaviors, it may also be a way to divert negative emotions that they have formed with other people. Some addictions, especially sexual addictions, are difficult to talk about particularly when a person is already struggling to manage what they don’t truly understand.
Just like all addictions, they will manifest themselves in different forms. Sometimes there may only be a few recognizable symptoms. Other times the signs are there, but seeking help is not always the easiest thing to do. Sexual addiction is a real problem that affects people of all types, ages, and social classes.