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Sexual addiction is not a separate diagnosis, but the effects are comparable to any other addiction. Therefore when compulsive sexual behaviours and thoughts negatively affect your life or that of a loved one, this is a reason to seek help.
What is sex addiction?
Being a sex addict is like having any other addiction. In this case the drug is exaggerated and compulsive sexual behaviours and thoughts that adversely affect your life. Just as an alcoholic constantly thinks about alcohol, the sex addict’s thoughts are filled with sex. The difference is that people do not need alcohol to enjoy well-being, while on the other hand, we have differing needs for sex and intimacy. Therefore it can be difficult to determine whether a person is addicted or just has a strong sex drive.
Both men and women suffer equally often from sex addiction. Possible signs of sex addiction may be that the person develops difficulties in doing their job or at school, or damages their relationships or their health. A sex addict is no longer able to control their sexual behaviour. There is a craving and a compulsion that drives the person to repeat their actions. These actions may be compulsive masturbation, porn consumption, a fixation on the hunt for new partners, telephone sex or sex with strangers or prostitutes. The addiction may increase over time.
How does this affect a person’s life?
An unhealthy and compulsive relationship with sex can have a major effect on everyday life. It’s not uncommon for the use of sex to become a way to deaden negative feelings such as uneasiness, anxiety, stress or depression. Many people also experience a high from the sexual behaviour, a high that can serve as an escape from reality for awhile. Afterwards it is common to have feelings of shame, emptiness and anxiety.
The sex addiction may cause the addict to take greater risks, since satisfying the need comes first. There is an increased risk of health problems and crime, for example if a person engages in prostitution. The addict often does not have the ability to function and be present in a relationship without frequently withdrawing into their behaviours. Sex addicts often have other mental health problems.
Can things improve?
Sex addiction can be difficult to talk about. Both the addict and their relatives may suffer enormous feelings of shame and despair. The partner of a sex addict may be especially affected, as it is easy to believe that the cause of the addiction is that the addict’s sex life with their partner is not satisfactory. This is not the case; the addiction is due to the addict’s mental state. It is necessary for them to become aware of their addiction and to seek help. Support from relatives can play an important role in this connection.
If you need help and support, contact a healthcare centre. If you are under the age of 23, you can turn to a youth clinic. There are also various support hotlines available to call. Talk therapy treatment may be recommended. In some cases, anti-hormonal or psychopharmacological drugs may also aid recovery.