The term “sexual addiction” is used to describe the behaviour of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. Sex and the thought of sex tend to dominate the sex addict’s thinking, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships.Sex addicts engage in distorted thinking, often rationalizing and justifying their behaviour and blaming others for problems. They generally deny they have a problem and make excuses for their actions. Sexual addiction also is associated with risk-taking. A person with a sex addiction engages in various forms of sexual activity, despite the potential for negative and/or dangerous consequences. Behaviours associated with sexual addiction include:
- Compulsive masturbation (self-stimulation)
- Multiple affairs (extra-marital affairs)
- Multiple or anonymous sexual partners and/or one-night stands
- Consistent use of pornography
- Phone or computer sex (cybersex)
- Prostitution or use of prostitutes
- Obsessive dating through personal ads
- Voyeurism (watching others) and/or stalking
Generally, a person with a sex addiction gains little satisfaction from the sexual activity and forms no emotional bond with his or her sex partners. In addition, the problem of sex addiction often leads to feelings of guilt and shame. A sex addict also feels a lack of control over the behaviour.
How is sexual addiction treated?
Most sex addicts live in denial of their addiction, and treating a sex addiction is dependent on the person accepting and admitting that he or she has a problem. In many cases, it takes a significant event — such as the loss of a job, the break-up of a marriage, an arrest, or health crisis — to force the addict to admit to his or her problem. Treatment of sexual addiction focuses on controlling the addictive behaviour and helping the person develop a healthy sexuality.