Since the action and the idea of sex have been so glamorized by the media, many may question: is sexual addiction a real thing? Are celebrities going to rehab for sex addiction just for media coverage? If it is really possible to be addicted to sex, how can a person differentiate between addiction and preference? Here are some ideas on how to detect and determine the warning signs of sexual addiction.
First, let us clarify the definition of sexual addiction. An addiction to sex is defined as an increase of dependency on the action of sex, to the point where it compromises one’s health and leads to detriments in the other parts of the individual’s life. Addiction can be of a mental nature (such as obsession, illusion, or denial), or physical nature (change in tolerance, withdrawal, and loss of control), and generally paves the path towards self-destruction.
In other words, the person abuses the act of sex and sexual behavior if he or she has a sexual addiction. Although it suggests that the affected person compulsively engages in sexual intercourse, a real addiction is not limited to just that. An addiction to sex can include all sex-related behaviors, such as viewing too much pornography, prostitution, excessive masturbation, and exhibitionism, to name a few.
If the compromise of the quality of life is suspected, look for these potential warning signs of sexual addiction:
For individuals addicted to sex, relationships can suffer as they take a back seat to satisfy sexual cravings. For example, alienation of friends and family or infidelity within a marriage due to an addiction to sex can be an indication. In these cases, the affected individual tends to focus on gratifying the need for sex above all other things, including making and nurturing relationships with others.
Sex addicts can spend the majority of their paychecks on fulfilling their desires, such as splurging on pornography websites, magazines, or hiring prostitutes. It can be as drastic as compromising rent money or going into debt to satisfy the addiction.
It is often that an addict becomes “dulled” towards the substance or behavior at hand. Hence, increased frequency and compulsion will take place to stimulate and satiate the heightened tolerance. If the issue is not properly addressed, the addict can fall deeper and deeper into a vicious cycle that depends heavily on sex-related behaviors.
Almost all actions come with some sort of consequence, and engaging in reckless sexual behavior is no exception. However, when health and safety become secondary to satisfying the “itch,” it can be a good warning sign of sexual addiction. While it is very rare to die from purely too much sexual intercourse, many sexually transmitted diseases and infections can definitely kill a person over time. Engaging in risky and dangerous sexual behavior can also be life threatening.
Studies have shown that there may be an “addiction gene” that can be passed on through the family. If there is a family history of addictive personalities (does not necessarily need to be sex-related behaviors), you can be more prone to becoming addicted to substances or behaviors than others.
In a vicious addiction cycle, depression is quite probable. The addict can feel shame or guilt associated with the behaviors, but does not know how to stop or address such dependency. Hence, the person can become depressed and may isolate himself or herself away from others to avoid feelings of guilt and shame.
Sometimes, when sexual addicts are aware of their condition, they may try to justify their behavior in order to continue to engage in the addiction. While it is not necessarily out of deception, it is definitely a sign of denial; they realize there is something unhealthy going on, but they probably do not know how to address it properly.
If you or someone you know are experiencing such warning signs of sexual addiction, it is in the best interest to seek professional help before it becomes a habitual cycle.
Remember, just because you like or enjoy sex does not necessarily mean you are addicted to it. It is important to note that an addiction to sex does not reflect or indicate the morality or integrity of the affected individual. While addiction (of anything, in this matter) may lead to moral decline, it should not be treated as a moral issue of the individual. Instead, it should be looked upon as a medical and possibly psychological issue that needs to be resolved.