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Sex Addiction Symptoms, Causes and Effects

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Table of Contents

This page contains the following information:

This page is dedicated to providing you with useful information on sex and porn addiction. It will explain the sign/symptoms you should look for, how they affect your life and those around you, and what treatment options are available.


Definition of Sex Addiction

Sex addiction can refer to a range of behaviors that are done in excess and significantly impact one’s life in a negative way.

Is Porn Addiction the Same as Sex Addiction?

Porn addiction and sex addiction are not the same disorder. Addiction to porn is considered to be a type of sex addiction and can manifest itself differently than other types of sex addiction. Like “sex addiction,” “porn addiction” is not an official diagnosis in the DSM-5 yet. However, an addiction to porn can lead to serious distress and consequences in many facets of life.

What Are the Different Types of Sexual Addictions?

There are no distinct categories, but sexual addictions can come in different forms, including addiction to:

What are the Signs, Symptoms, and Effects of a Sexual Addiction?

Several signs can serve to indicate whether someone is addicted to sex. These can be emotional or physical. Furthermore, it’s important to know the debilitating effects of sexual addiction.

Emotional Symptoms of Sex Addiction

If you or someone you love suffers from a sex addiction, you might not have healthy boundaries. If your husband is addicted to porn or sex, you may feel alienated, isolated, depressed, angry, or humiliated and need treatment yourself. If you are addicted to sex, you might become easily involved with people sexually or emotionally regardless of how well you know them, according to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. Because most sex addicts fear being abandoned, they might stay in relationships that aren’t healthy, or they may jump from relationship to relationship. When alone, they might feel empty or incomplete. They might also sexualize feelings like guilt, loneliness or fear.

Physical Symptoms of Sex Addiction

Although a sex addiction or pornography addiction can create many physical side effects, few physical symptoms of this disorder exist. However, the most common physical sex addict symptoms you might notice from having a sexual addiction is feeling immobilized due to sexual or emotional obsessions.

Effects of Sex Addiction

The effects of a sex addiction can be severe.

Additionally, sex addiction likely has a negative impact on several areas of one’s life. It can lead to:

It can have profound psychological effects, like generating feelings of shame, inadequacy, and emotional distress. It can lead to, or stem from, comorbid psychological disorders like:

It is important to know that addressing co-occurring problems in one’s life, like depression, social anxiety, or social isolation, can make it easier to recover from sexual addiction.

Am I Addicted to Sex?

It is best to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation of your sex addiction, however, you may also want to look out for the following signs:

If you’re exhibiting any of these symptoms, it might be time to seek sex addiction treatment. If you also have a co-occurring substance addiction (e.g., alcohol, cocaine), call 1-888-997-3147 to learn more about treatment options. 

Get Help For Sex Addiction

It is important to understand that although sex and porn addiction are not “formally” diagnosable, these conditions exist and often present with very adverse consequences and high levels of distress, guilt, and emotional turmoil. If you can relate to the symptoms mentioned above, or know somebody who meets these criteria, do not hesitate to ask for help. Call 1-888-997-3147 to speak to a treatment support specialist who can provide you with more information.

Video on Sex Addiction

Understanding Addiction to Sex – Video

What is Sex Addiction Treatment Professionals from Darren Harris on Vimeo.

What Causes an Addiction to Sex?

Sexual addiction, like porn addiction, can develop due to factors that encompass all aspects of an individual’s life. These include:

Biological:

Psychological:

Social:

Can Sex Addiction Be Treated?

Yes, sex addiction can be treated. You will typically want to speak with a mental health professional, like a psychologist or licensed social worker. They will help you address some of the underlying factors that are maintaining your sex or porn addiction, and teach you to cope with your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a healthy way.

Some treatment options include:

To find an addiction treatment center or to find out more information about the process of treating sex and/or porn addiction, call 1-888-997-3147.

Medication: Are There Sex Addiction Drug Options?

There are currently no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications for the treatment of sex addiction.

Sex addiction and related sexual dysfunctions frequently co-occur with conditions such as anxiety and depression and can be treated with medications such as antidepressants.

If a patient doesn’t respond well to antidepressants, there are a couple of other options.

Additionally, anti-androgenic medications can help curb sexual cravings by decreasing the levels of male hormones in the body.

Medication Overdose

If your doctor prescribes you medication, be sure to read the label carefully and follow the doctor’s dosage instructions in order to avoid an overdose. If you feel tempted to overdose on your medication, call for help immediately.

Medication Side Effects

Although there are no FDA-approved medications for sex or porn addiction, antidepressants are one of the most common medications prescribed to treat sex addiction. Antidepressants are very safe to take but can have some side effects.

Naltrexone, a medication used to treat alcohol and opioid addiction, has proven promising in treating sex and porn addiction. It may cause some side effects as well:

While these side effects may be troubling, some side effects are far more dangerous and life-threatening:

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these serious side effects.

Anti-androgens, medications that block the effects of male hormones, present with an array of side effects:

Similarities Between Being Addicted to a Drug and Addicted to Sex

Effects on the Brain

Drug addiction and sex addiction have similar effects on the brain–both primarily influence the brain’s reward system through a neurotransmitter called dopamine. When a person satisfies a need or desire that is vital to survival or reproduction, dopamine is released, causing the person to experience pleasure or euphoria. This reinforces the expectation of reward and increases the desire to engage in the underlying behavior.

This is what makes it so difficult for addicts to quit and why professional help should be sought.

Dependence

Many sex addicts believe that they are in control of their behaviors, but without proper treatment, they can develop dependence. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of dependence, so that you can seek help immediately. A few signs include:

Perhaps the most important sign that one is dependent on sex is that the person continues to partake in sexual behavior despite negative consequences caused by the behavior, such as:

Withdrawal

Withdrawal is a characteristic feature of chemical addictions and reports indicate that individuals struggling with sexual addictions frequently report experiencing withdrawal after a reduction in sexual activity. Withdrawal symptoms can include but are not limited to:

It is important to note that no two sex addicts are the same and that withdrawal symptoms may vary.

Sex Addiction and Substance Abuse

There is a significant correlation between sexual addiction and substance use disorders:

Treating co-occurring addictions is a complex process. Medical professionals must assess the pattern of drug use and sexual behaviors and how they relate to each other. Research indicates that there are two important things to consider when evaluating the relation:

Once the interaction of multiple addictions is assessed, then proper treatment can be administered.

While some sex addicts use substances in order to cope with the pain and guilt caused by their sexual behaviors, others use them to enhance the sexual experience. If you think that you have issues with both sex addiction and substance addiction, it is critical to your recovery that you find a treatment center that can cater to both of these addictions.

Sex Addiction and Mental Health Disorders

There seems to be a high correlation between sex addiction and psychiatric conditions, particularly mood, anxiety and personality disorders.

Clinical depression, which is often co-occurring with sex addiction, is a serious mental health illness that, if left untreated, can be life-threatening. Typical symptoms include:

Difficulty concentrating on tasks.

Again, if you are a sex addict and believe that you suffer from depression, contact your medical provider immediately. It is pertinent that your treatment plan addresses both your depression and sex addiction.