Just like alcohol or drug addiction, sex addiction can compromise the addict’s health, affects his or her quality of life, and even destroy personal relationships. Sex addiction, in its most basic form, is a compulsive need to perform sexual acts in order to achieve a kind of “high” and gratification, just like how drug addicts get their “fix” from drugs. While this condition is actually common, it is sadly often not diagnosed. However, understanding the causes of sex addiction can help you tackle this negative pattern of behaviors better.
Studies have shown that most sex addicts actualize their intentions by altering their lives in order to perform sexual acts on a daily basis. From viewing pornography to frequent masturbation, sex addicts may even seek multiple sex partners in a careless manner. Oftentimes, sex addicts cannot control their behavior and this may eventually lead to severe negative consequences.
Telltale Signs of a Sex Addict
Obviously, sex addiction is not something you can spot from first impressions. What’s more, an individual can skillfully conceal their addictive behavior, so their family members, spouses, partners or friends are constantly kept in the dark. However, there are times when an addict’s symptoms become noticeable. For example:
Constantly lying to cover their activities and addiction
When you use your partner’s computer, you may come across pornographic material. When you probe into the matter, they may give you excuses that give them away.
Having multiple sexual partners, including strangers
If your partner has a track record of sleeping with multiple sexual partners in the past, and you have caught him or her doing the same in recent times, this might be an indicative sign of their addiction to sex.
Obsessive sexual behaviors that are becoming increasingly degrading
Sex is no longer enjoyable and does not appear like an act of love from your partner. Your partner may want you to engage in sexual activities that you are not comfortable with, such as rough sex and group orgies.
Engage in sexual activities that are considered illegal, for example, with minors and prostitutes
A sex addict’s excessive sexual pursuits may lead to illicit activities such as having sex with minors or prostitutes. They no longer care whether the sexual activity is legal as they need to fulfill their own sexual desires as a priority.
While it is true that this form of addiction is difficult to diagnose, but you should note that experiencing enjoyment from sexual activities does not make one an addict – it is natural to enjoy sex but it is also pertinent to know what constitutes a normal sex life. If an individual develops a compulsive need for it and have no control over their impulses, these symptoms constitute an addiction. In addition, an addict may even put his or her loved one on the line to quench their sexual appetites.
What are the Causes of Sex Addiction?
In some countries, individual freedom is widely celebrated as part of an open culture. There are also some countries such as the United States which have a flourishing pornography industry that is relatively legal. The triggers for porn addiction fall into two main categories – external and internal. External triggers for pornography addiction usually involve events, things, places and/or people. For example, a sex addict may see a sexily-dressed woman on the way to work and feel a desire to look at pornographic material. Internal triggers usually involve emotional/physical discomfort. For example, a sex addict’s sudden rush of anger may trigger their desire to look at porn at a later time.
The world has also arrived at a digital age where pornography is easily available over the internet. Without proper guidance, individuals who get their hands on these materials may not be able to control his or her feelings as well as differentiate what is right or wrong. However, one of the greatest social influences is the family, for example, how children perceive sex and sexuality from their family members. A child may accidentally walk in on their parents/older siblings in the middle of a sexual act or catch someone who is older than them watching pornographic material on computer. As everyone is doing these things so openly, the child may feel that there is nothing wrong and that misunderstanding can follow them until they reach adulthood.
Psychological factors are also another set of potential causes of sex addiction. This can happen because some people have learned to anticipate the “benefits” from their addiction, including pleasurable sensations, stress reduction, escaping from the reality or the temporary avoidance of withdrawal symptoms. If they stop their sexual pursuits, they stop feeling these pleasurable sensations, and that’s why they can’t take no for an answer when it comes to anything that’s sexual.
Other psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression are also known to co-occur with sex addiction or make a person more vulnerable to this form of addiction. As mentioned, they may seek one of the above “benefits” to alleviate the unpleasant symptoms experienced from their disorders.
When it comes to biological factors, an easy way to understand how they cause sex addiction is to think about how all of us are different in the way we enjoy sex. Everyone has a unique physiology and set of genetics. Hence, some of us enjoy it way more than others, to the extent that it makes sex hard to resist when opportunities arises. This is not only about high sex drive though, we are talking about the capacity to control desires with rational thought.
Other individuals may have a genetic vulnerability, and this can put them at a greater risk of developing a sexual addiction. The interesting yet conflicting issue is that our normal brain chemistry and brain functioning cause us to be more susceptible to addiction. When our brain is functioning healthily, we are encouraged by the brain to repeat pleasurable behaviors (for example, eating desserts, having sex, and drinking wine). This makes us more vulnerable to develop problematic addiction to certain pleasurable activities.
What Happens if Sex Addiction is Left Untreated?
Do note that there is no wrong in indulging in innocent sexual fantasies. But over time, those behaviors and desires may intensify, become more than regular or take a turn for the worst. The addict’s mind may become enthralled with the ideas of pain exchange sex, intrusive sex, exhibitionistic sex, voyeuristic sex, seductive role sex and more.
Sex addicts who refuse treatment often continue to engage in risky behaviors. In some cases, it can become so severe that they involve children in their sexual pursuits. What’s more, they may put the health of their partner(s) at risk if they practice unprotected sex.
In the case of addicts who are married, they may also pass on sexually transmitted diseases to their spouses or destroy their marriages due to the stress of infidelity. In severe cases, an addict can engage in illegal sexual acts such as rape, and will have to pay the consequences for ending up on the wrong side of the law.
You Do Not Need Indefinite Abstinence from Sexual Activities to Make a Full Recovery
Sex addition poses a unique set of challenges for addicts, and unlike other addictions, it may not be realistic for them to give up sexual activities entirely. Hence, seeking professional help and treatment is often necessary to help them identify the causes of their urges as well as explore emotional issues that are linked to the manifestation of the addiction.
It comes with great pertinence that sex addicts must learn to differentiate between healthy, natural sexual urges and addictive ones. With this knowledge, they can have positive sexual encounters in the future, without losing control. If you think you are addicted to sex, a “cure” is not what you should seek, but instead, you should find out about ways to manage your condition and continue to live a normal and balanced life. For starters, you can look for addiction treatment centers that can offer long-term treatment solutions.
Do you want to escape from the perils of sex addiction? Embark on your journey towards recovery today by speaking with one of our intake counselors to learn more about our treatment methods for mental health rehab.