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Understanding Sexual Addiction Symptoms

Sexual addiction is the condition in which a person is unable to control their sexual urges and behavior. Known by other names, such as sexual compulsivity and sexual dependency, this condition is commonly linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. In fact, many experts do not see sex addictions as being a separate problem, often identifying the condition as a manifestation of OCD. These experts believe that the problems stems from cultural sources, rather than a genetic issue. Others see the condition as a real disorder with its own set of symptoms and causes.

Sexual Addiction

Sex addiction symptoms can differ wildly between individual patients, but the common theme between symptoms is an inability to control sexual impulses. According to one sex expert, Patrick Carnes, this can be manifested in a chronic desire to have violent or lewd sex. Also, a patient with sex addictions also exhibits an inordinate time spent thinking about or working to attain sexual gratification. This can be a self-perpetuating cycle, with the patient engaging in more and more sexual situations which creates a need for increased sexual activity. Another of the criteria used to determine whether a person has an addiction to sex is if the person commonly resorts to sex as a way of dealing with despair, loneliness, anxiety, or other emotional issues. These sex addiction symptoms often remain even when the patient realizes the consequences of their actions. A person with an addiction to sex often has financial, social, or physical problems due to their continued dependency on sexual activity. Other symptoms that may indicate an addiction to sex include extramarital affairs, voyeurism, compulsive masturbation, and frequent use of pornography.

Most experts agree that dysfunctional families are often the reason behind the problem. An inconsistency between periods of love from a parent alternating with times where the parent is aggressive and critical of the child can lead to a fear of intimacy and a feeling that the love is only a condition of the criticism. Also, the lack of an intimate relationship between a child and parent may lead to an increased need for emotional security which the patient finds in sexual activity. While these are frequent causes of addiction to sex, the most common reported source is child abuse. A survey of sexual addicts revealed that 97% of the addicts received some sort of abuse as a child, whether sexual, physical, or emotional.

The majority of sex addicts live with the condition and do not seek treatment. Understanding sexual addiction recovery begins with a patient accepting that their obsession with sexual activity is a problem. In many cases this is not realized unless there is a specific event that triggers the realization. Most treatment options involve counseling by the use of support groups or traditional 12-step recovery programs to facilitate the patient understanding sexual addiction recovery as a complete process. In addition, many patients have found that taking medications designed for OCD have also been effective in curbing the sexual urges. Some of these medications that have proven beneficial are Prozac and Anafranil. As more is learned about the nature of sexual addiction, it is expected that better methods of treatment will be invented.