I needed it and I got it, there was something I loved about it.
My sexual addiction condition was something I couldn’t manage. I couldn’t control my sexual thoughts, it affected my ability to work, maintain relationships, and fulfill my daily activities.
While sexual addiction shares some features with substance addiction, the addict is addicted to an activity, not a substance. Treatment may help, but without treatment, it may get worse.
A person with sexual addiction is obsessed with sex or has an abnormally intense sex drive. Their thoughts are dominated by sexual activity, to the point where this affects other activities and interactions. If these urges become uncontrollable, the person can have difficulty functioning in social situations.
Sexual addiction has not been fully established as a medical condition, although it can adversely affect families, relationships, and lives. One difficulty with identifying sexual addiction is that people have different levels of sex drive or libido. One person may consider their partner a “sex addict” only because they have a higher sex drive.
Some attempts to define the characteristics of sexual addiction have been based on literature about chemical dependency. Sexual addiction may share the same rewards systems and circuits in the brain as substance addiction.
However, people with sexual addiction may be addicted to different types of sexual behavior. This makes the condition harder to define. It also suggests that the disorder stems not from the individual acts, but rather an obsession with carrying them out.
Sexual addiction also appears to involve making rules to feel in control of the condition and then breaking them to make new rules.
The causes of sexual addiction remain unclear.
Addiction takes root in the reward center of the brain. It may occur when certain parts of the brain mistake pleasure responses for survival mechanisms.
The midbrain is the section of the brain that handles the body’s reward system and survival instincts. As sexual activity creates a rush of dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical in the brain, this triggers the feeling of pleasure. The midbrain then mistakes this feeling of pleasure as being central to survival.
One possibility is that, in people with sexual addiction, the frontal cortex, or the brain’s center of logic and morality, is impaired by the midbrain.
Studies on rats have linked lesions of a section of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) with compulsive sexual behavior. This may shed some light the causes of hypersexuality in humans.
Symptoms of sexual addiction may resemble those of other addictions, but the diagnostic criteria for sexual addiction remain in dispute. For this reason, there are different sets of criteria for diagnosing the condition.
Hypersexuality is not a formal diagnosis, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V), due to a lack of evidence supporting its existence as a condition.
However, the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition (ICD-10) provides a category into which hypersexuality can fit: “F52.8: other sexual dysfunction not due to a substance or a known physiological condition.”
Excessive sexual drive, nymphomania, and satyriasis are all included under this category.
The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA, suggested in a 2012 study that too in order for a sexual addiction to qualify as a mental health disorder, an individual must:
“Experience repeated sexual fantasies, behaviors, and urges that last upwards of 6 months, and are not due to factors, such as medication, another medical condition, substance abuse, or manic episodes linked to bipolar disorder.”
As more examples of sexual addiction and its consequences have emerged, the disorder has become more widely accepted as a legitimate mental condition.
Addiction can be difficult to treat, as a person with an addiction will often rationalize and justify their behaviors and thought patterns. People with a sex addiction may deny there is a problem.
Sexual addiction can be controlled by attending self-help meetings.
Current treatment options aim to reduce any excessive urges to engage in sexual relations and to encourage the nurturing of healthful relationships.
The following treatment options are available:
- Self-help organizations, such as Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, offer 12-step programs to help the individual in self-managing the condition.
- Residential treatment programs are available for individuals with various addictive disorders. These are in-patient programs, during which the individual lives on-site at the facility and receives care from specialized therapists.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) provides a variety of techniques that help the individual change their behavior. CBT can equip a person to avoid relapses and reprogram harmful sexual behaviors.
- Prescription medications, such as Prozac, may be prescribed to reduce sexual urges, but the drug has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat this condition.
The support of friends and family is crucial for a person recovering from an addiction. Sexual addiction, due to its behavioral nature, can be difficult for others to understand and tolerate, especially if it has already led to damage in relationships.
However, a strong support network helps to reduce destructive behavior and the risk of relapse.