Sexual Addiction refers to an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. This can basically be classified as an OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). Sexual addicts are unable to manage their sexual behavior. Sexual addiction is also referred to as “Hyper sexuality,” “Sexual compulsivity” and also “Sexual dependency”. The sex addict’s thinking and thought process are dominated by the thought of sex. This domination reduces the effectiveness of the addict’s functioning. This also limits his capabilities of handling relationships often making it impossible for him to get involved in a healthy personal relationship.
Like all other addictions and disorders, sexual addiction’s negative impact on the addict and on the family members increases as the disorder progresses thereby creating disturbances in relationships. Eventually, the addict has to increase his sexual behavior to get the same results as earlier. Sexual addiction causes fuzzy thinking in the addicts. This allows them to justify their behavior and also to put the blame on others for problems. They deny having sexual addiction and try to explain their behavior.
Sexual addiction also provokes the addicts to get involved in various forms of sexual activities without having concern for the potential negative consequences it may have. Sexual addiction has been defined by the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others”. This means that a sex addict will continue to involve himself in some sexual activities despite having the chance of facing problems such as financial problems, health risks, shattered relationships or even arrest.
Associated behavior with Sexual Addiction
Usually, a sex addict gets little gratification as he doesn’t form any kind of emotional bond with his partners. Generally, people having sexual addiction consider their partners as just things to use for the little satisfaction they attain. Feelings of guilt and shame are also associated with persons having sexual addiction. Also, a lack of control over their behavior is associated with sexual addicts.
For some sex addicts, behavior does not progress beyond compulsive masturbation or the extensive use of pornography or phone or computer sex services. For others, sexual addiction can involve illegal activities such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, child molestation or even rape.
Other behaviors include:
• Compulsive masturbation (self-stimulation)
• Multiple affairs (extra-marital affairs)
• Multiple or anonymous sexual partners and/or one-night stands
• Consistent use of pornography
• Unsafe sex
• Phone or computer sex (cybersex)
• Prostitution or use of prostitutes
• Obsessive dating through personal ads
• Voyeurism (watching others) and/or stalking
• Sexual harassment
• Compulsive fixation of an unattainable partner
• Compulsive searching for multiple partners
• Compulsive love relationships
• Compulsive sexuality in relationships
Sex addicts are not necessarily sex offenders. Furthermore, not every sex offender is a victim of sexual addiction. As a rough estimate, only 55% of all convicted sex offenders can be considered as sex addicts. About 71% of all child molesters are sex addicts. Society has accepted that sex offenders act not for sexual gratification, but rather out of a disturbed need for power, dominance, control or revenge, or a perverted expression of anger.
How to treat Sexual Addiction?
The same kind of compulsive disorder that gives way for alcohol or drug addictions in people is typical of sexual addiction. People are increasingly being provoked to engage in illicit sexual behavior and also more and more people are in need of help. Most of the sexual addicts deny that they have sexual addiction. The victim needs to accept and admit that he or she has a problem. In most cases, a major event such as a financial loss, health crisis or break up of a relationship leads the addict to admit that he has sexual addiction.
Treatment of sexual addiction focuses on controlling the compulsive behavior and developing a healthy sexuality. Education about healthy sexuality, individual counseling are also part of the treatment. Support groups and recovery programs are also available for people suffering from sexual addiction. Medications like Prozac and Anafranil are also prescribed if necessary. Many drug rehabs have also started programs for rehabilitation of sexual addicts.