Many people tend to disregard sex addiction and do not consider it to be a real disorder. The reason for this is likely a lack of education about the topic. Addiction, regardless of what substance or behavior is being abused, is a legitimate disorder. Whether a person is obsessing about heroin or sex, if the thoughts affect their lives, their health, behaviors, or relationships then there is a problem.
People that are addicted to sex have compulsive thoughts and behaviors about sex. These could be about ordinary and conventional sex or it could involve fantasies, some of which could be outside of the norm and could be illegal or violate certain cultures or morals. This can often be as dangerous as a drug or alcohol addiction because the behavior is often destructive and disturbing to the individual and to others.
Sex addiction requires professional treatment. Some signs that a sexual behavior has escalated and that treatment is needed include feeling that the sexual behavior has passed the ability to control it, the activity may be carried out with little pleasure or satisfaction, the behavior is carried out despite the consequences that result from it, and the behavior is used to mask other problems. This problem should never be ignored because the desires and the sexual cravings will eventually become uncontrollable. Willpower alone never works for someone that has a sex addiction because of the intense obsession with thinking about sex.
The reason that some people develop a sexual addiction and others do not remains unclear. There are many speculations about it though. Some believe the cause is a brain imbalance, some believe that the answer lies in sexual hormone levels or in changes in the brain’s pathways. What is clear is that both men and women can develop a sex addiction but it is more likely to occur in men. Sexual preference does not play a role in this disorder. Some people that do seem to be at a higher risk of sex addiction would include those who have substance abuse problems, mental health problems, or that have been abused in the past, either physically or sexually.
If you or a loved one are engaging in sexual compulsive behavior that includes such things as having sex with numerous people, illicit affairs, having sex with strangers or prostitutes, phone sex, Internet porn sites, excessive masturbation, use of frequent pornographic materials, partaking in masochistic, sadistic sex or exhibitionism, or fixate and obsess about having sex with someone that you can never have then you should seek help right away.
The consequences of sex addiction can be grim. The outcome can be extreme shame and low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Sex addiction results in relationships being destroyed, it can cause debt to pile up, it can cause various sexually transmitted diseases, it can result in legal problems, pregnancy, and job loss.