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Sex Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, and Outlook

The perception of sex is a major reason why the signs of sex addiction may be hard to see. Sex is no doubt a personal and healthy part of our lives. A lot of people enjoy sex and choose to engage in it more often than others.

However, when sexual thoughts, desires, and behaviours begin to interfere with your daily activities, it can quickly spiral into a big issue. It is at this point that sex addiction starts to creep in.

Now, many people often mistake a sex addict for a person with a high libido. Well, this is not usually true. Sex addiction can manifest in several ways. Most times, a person with sexual addiction can go to any length to satisfy their fantasies. They may even go as far as committing sexual offences.

Unlike a person with healthy sex life, sex addicts will keep their activity hidden from others. While sex has to do with emotional intimacy and love, addiction has no emotional element. These addicts also have a negative attitude towards sex.

In this post, we will discuss the major signs of sex addiction. More importantly, we will highlight the causative factors behind these symptoms and how you can manage them.

Who’s a Sex Addict?

The signs of sex addiction are hardly noticeable. Even addicts may be unaware of the problem if their attention is not called to it. According to WHO, sex addiction is a compulsive sexual behaviour disorder. This disorder covers many activities like frequenting prostitutes, having phone or online sex with strangers, and keeping multiple partners.

In simpler terms, a sex addict is a person who has no control over their sexual impulses. Addicts are most likely to spend an excessive amount of time satisfying their sexual desires. This means they prioritize gratifying pornography, strip clubs, online adultery, prostitution and more.

These individuals also often use sex as a way of escaping emotional stress and depression. A sex addict has an unstable personal life. Moreover, since sexual addiction is sometimes accompanied by chemical dependency, it’s not surprising that a sex addict abuses drugs.

Another thing worthy of mention is that sex addicts experience low self-esteem and hypersexuality. Presently, sex addiction is not recognized as a diagnosable condition in (DSM-5). As a result of this, most people discredit the fact that it develops like substance addiction.

Signs of Sex Addiction

There are several ways you can know how to recognize sex addiction. It presents itself both emotionally and physically. Typically, the best diagnosis should come from a sex addiction treatment professional.

Nevertheless, if you’re wondering whether you’re a sex addict or not, here are some warning signs to look out for.

Masturbates frequently

Of all the signs of sex addiction, masturbation is often overlooked. Yes, masturbation is an excellent way to explore your sexuality. Aside from that, it also improves your sexual drive.

However, if you find yourself habitually masturbating alone or at inappropriate times, then this may be a pointer you’re suffering from sexual addiction. Masturbating to the point that you may begin to feel discomfort or pain also means you need help.

Feeling depressed or ashamed

You may wonder, do I have a sex addiction? Well, if your uncontrollable desire for sex makes you feel anxious, depressed, guilty, or ashamed, then you may be an addict. These feelings usually occur because of the difficulty in controlling your urges.

Sex problem depressed

Ignoring other activities

One of the signs of sex addiction is investing your time in sexual activities. A sex addict fixates most of their attention on sex and excludes other things in their lives.

So if you spend most of the day engaging in sexual activities to the extent of ignoring your duties, then you may be an addict. Sometimes, this can manifest in the form of prioritizing your sex life over your hobbies and loved ones.

Related Article: Sex Addiction Treatment: The Helpful Tips You Need

Engaging in inappropriate behaviours

There are so many sexual behaviours that deviate from the norm. These behaviours include masturbating with household objects, having sex with animals, exhibitionism, and engaging in public sex.

If you’re engaging in any of these to attain the sexual feeling, you may be struggling with addiction. In most cases, these acts can put you at risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Cheats on partners

Is sex addiction real? Sex addiction is, in fact, very real. There are numerous reasons why people cheat, and addiction is among them.

Do you feel the need to try out sex with strangers? Perhaps you prefer to keep multiple partners after committing to one? If your answer to both questions is yes, you may be suffering from sex addiction.

Committing sexual offences

If the signs of sex addiction go unnoticed for a while, you may begin to engage in corrupt activities like rape, stalking, incest, and child molestation. This doesn’t mean that all sex addicts are sex offenders.

At the same time, not all sex offenders are sex addicts. But in extreme situations, a sexually compulsive person is likely to commit sexual crimes. According to Addiction HQ, about 55% of sex addicts are sex offenders.

Obsession with sex

This is the easiest answer to how to recognize sex addiction. You may be dealing with addiction if you find yourself always thinking about sex, even at times when the thoughts of sex and pleasure should not necessarily come to your mind. These habitual thoughts of sexual fantasies may become severe that they may interfere in your life.

Some other signs of sex addiction include:

  • Engaging in voyeuristic sex.
  • Touching others without their consent.
  • Chronic flirting.
  • Seductive behaviours.
  • Crossdressing to incite sexual pleasure.
  • Experiencing a relapse anytime you try to stop the behaviour.

Causes of Sex Addiction

Unlike the signs of addiction, which can be diagnosed, the reason for it is still being reviewed. Most people have linked the cause to the chemical variation of the brain. This variation strengthens sexual activity through the natural reward pathway.

This pathway releases dopamine which causes the feeling of happiness in the person. Consequently, dopamine further induces a positive sensation to make the individual engage in sexual activities repeatedly.

On the other hand, some researchers have ascribed sex addiction to the lack of impulse control. This means that people with compulsive sexual behaviours usually have another disorder that accompanies their sexual addiction. Most impulse control disorders are associated with substance abuse.

By this, we mean alcohol and drug abuse can also lead to sex addiction. Some studies have also suggested that most sex addicts are from dysfunctional homes.

If you’re suffering from childhood trauma or you’ve been physically abused, there’s every possibility that may be the reason for your addiction. Research shows that:

  • 72% of individuals with sex addiction were formerly physically abused.
  • 81% of sex addicts have a history of sexual abuse.
  • 97% of sex addicts were exposed to emotional abuse.

Consequences of Sex Addiction

We’ve already discussed the signs of sex addiction. Now, what are its outcomes? Sex addiction has several impacts ranging from health to legal effects. To that end, here are some ways sexual compulsive behaviours can endanger you.

Legal consequences

Many sexual offences are met with legal actions. Sleeping with prostitutes, engaging in rape and public sex can cost you jail time. In some cases, you may be required to pay a fine.

Occupational effects

Your uncontrollable urge for sexual activities can leave you unemployed. For example, people who use their workplace internet for online sex and pornography are at a high risk of losing their jobs.

Damages family relationship

There’s no specific time for when to get help for sex addiction. However, if you notice that it’s likely to cause a break or divorce in your family, then you must seek help immediately.

As mentioned earlier, most sex addicts ignore their other duties, including their family. This will no doubt lead to friction in inter-family relationships.

Health risks

Having casual sex can lead to diseases like AIDS, gonorrhea, and syphilis. If the disorder is not treated immediately, sex addicts will eventually engage in unsafe sexual behaviours like having unprotected sex.

Obsession with sex

Cheating, jealous, obsession, possession concept. Handsome sad half naked young guy is looking down, thinking about cheating to his wife with gorgeous lover, who hugs him from the back, cropped photo

Treatment Options for Sex Addicts

If you notice the signs of sex addiction, the next thing will be how to treat it. We understand that the stigma surrounding this disorder may make you reluctant to seek help. However, addiction is a mental illness. As such, a sex addict can only heal with medical assistance.

Depending on the cause of sex addiction, there are several therapeutic approaches you can take. You may either opt for sex addiction treatment or therapy. In difficult situations, you may need both.

Therapy for sex addiction

During treatment for this disorder, the aim is not to be sober but to control your impulses. In therapy, you’ll be required to speak with a therapist who will teach you how to build healthy behaviours.

Therapy also examines your history to know if there are situations in your life that may have led to addiction. This is usually done to prevent a relapse. Depending on the level of sexual addiction, therapy may not be enough. For this reason, there are medications designed to manage sexually compulsive behaviours.

If your addiction presents itself alongside other mental disorders like anxiety and depression, your treatment may include medications like Zoloft and Paxil. Keep in mind that sex addiction treatment comes with several benefits.

If your sex addiction is accompanied by drug abuse, you may need a detox. This will remove all the intoxicants in your body before proper treatment begins.

One crucial treatment method for sex addiction is Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT). This is very effective in helping you ignore your obsessive thoughts about sex.

With CBT, you’re equipped with tools to not only help you identify your sex addiction triggers but also enable you to cope with them. This treatment program is often given alongside individual and group therapies. Lastly, it assists you in building your damaged relationship.

Below are other types of treatment that are effective in helping sex addicts recover:

  • Group therapy
  • Private therapy with a medical psychiatrist
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Couples and marriage counselling
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Psycho-education
  • 12 step techniques

Above all, the aim of treatment, as well as therapy, is to enable you to learn how to control your sexual urges.

Outpatient and Inpatient Programs To Treat Sex Addiction

Depending on the signs of sex addiction, your treatment may either occur in a residential facility or outpatient center. For a speedy recovery, we recommend inpatient treatment. It allows you to recover without any triggers or distractions. Not to mention, it offers you a supportive environment where you can concentrate on getting better.

It also enables you to meet with other individuals who understand what you’re going through. During recovery, many people experience a relapse because they feel alone. With inpatient treatment, you’ll be provided with support 24/7. The best part of this treatment is it comes with aftercare. This factor is significant for long-term recovery.

On the other hand, outpatient care provides you with autonomy and freedom. This treatment is mainly for individuals whose obligations may prevent them from leaving home. For instance, a person with children may be required to receive treatment from home.

Final Thought

When you recognize the signs of sex addiction, you can begin your recovery on the right path. Admitting or approaching a loved one about sex addiction can be embarrassing.

However, the earlier it’s identified and treated, the greater your chances of avoiding dire consequences. Remember, your treatment aims to help you gain control over your impulses and, of course, your life

Are you living with sexual addiction? Perhaps you know someone who’s struggling with it? Well, it’s time to get better and lead a happier life. Here at Addiction Rehab Toronto, we offer varied treatment options to help our patients manage sex addiction symptoms. More importantly, we can help you combat the foundational issue behind sex addiction. Contact us today to learn more!