Sex addiction affects individuals throughout the world. As with other forms of addiction, the addict’s family members are impacted by this disease as well. That leads to the first question…
What is Sex Addiction
The exact definition of sexual addiction is subject to debate. According to WebMD, it is “the behavior of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. Sex and the thought of sex tend to dominate the sex addict’s thinking, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships.”
“Sex Addiction” is an umbrella term which includes a variety of damaging behaviors. Some examples are: excessive masturbation, multiple affairs, obsession with pornography, risky sexual behaviors such as unsafe sex, exhibitionism and other inappropriate or damaging behaviors.
Just like the term “alcoholic” is used to describe anyone who abuses alcohol, regardless of whether it is beer, wine, or whiskey, the term “sex addict” refers to a wide range of sexual activities which have become problematic.
Am I Addicted to Sex?
Just because a person engages in inappropriate sexual relationships does not mean they are a sex addict. Dr. Mark Schwartz shared some warnings signs:
- Having a preoccupation with sex that interferes with a normal sexual relationship with one’s spouse or lover.
- Feeling compelled to have sexual relations again and again within a short period of time.
- A compulsion to engage in sexual behavior that leaves one feeling anxious and depressed or guilty and ashamed.
- Taking large amounts of time from family or work to engage in sex or look for sexual adventure.
- Being driven to sex as a means to hide from the troubles in one’s life.
Often times sex addicts find themselves “living a double life” — they are trapped by a complicated web of secrets and lies they have told in order to maintain their sexual activities.
Men and women who are concerned about sex addiction should take the Sexual Addiction Screening Test.
Is Sex Addiction a Disease?
According to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases “Excessive Sex Drive” is a recognized disorder.
The American Psychiatric Association maintains the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM is the primary reference manual for psychiatric professionals in the United States used to classify mental disorders. The 1987 version (DSM-III-R) listed sex addiction but the reference was later removed. The 2010 version (DSM-IV-TR) offered a miscellaneous diagnosis called Sexual Disorders Not Otherwise Specified, which described: “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.” Hypersexuality disorder, defined as “extremely frequent or suddenly increased sexual urges or sexual activity”, was listed on the proposed changes for the last update DSM-V but that medical diagnosis was not included because of the need for more research. Regardless of whether or not sex addiction is formally a disease, if you identify with having problematic sexual behaviors and want to stop, there is hope.
Successful resolution of sexual addiction begins with cognitive behavioral therapy to stop the problem behaviors. This begins in individual therapy or an Intensive with a therapist who is a trained expert in treatment protocols. Next, the underlying trauma is addressed in individual therapy, while fellowship in 12-step meetings and group therapy begins. If a sex addict is involved in a committed relationship, his or her partner is also strongly advised to seek help as a means to deal with the trauma of living with an addict. If you or a family member needs sex addiction treatment in Los Angeles, California please call or contact us.