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For people with drug & alcohol problems

Sex Addiction

Despite some controversy as to the legitimacy of sex addiction as a condition, it is increasingly becoming recognised as a dangerous affliction with similar symptoms and repercussions as drug addiction.

Becoming Addicted to Sex: Signs, Treatment, and Outlook

Sexual compulsivity was believed by many in society for many years to be a behavioural decision as opposed to psychological compulsion.

However, sex addiction is an often misunderstood affliction and a dangerous one that can have serious mental and physical health consequences, as well as causing social and interpersonal relationship damage.

Research has shown that, at its core, sex addiction relates to an inability to control or resist sexual urges. More.

If you are concerned about your partner or friend, or if you worry that you yourself may be addicted to sex, call the Executive Rehab Guide today on 0808 1150 446 for non-judgement advice on the best next steps forward.

Healthy sex vs unhealthy sex

Isn’t sex healthy? In short, yes. Sex is a natural and healthy activity that forms the bedrock of close interpersonal relationships and can have a surprisingly positive effect on both our physical and mental health.

During sex, our brains release chemicals such as:

  • Dopamine
  • Endorphines
  • Oxytocin

These chemicals bind with nerve receptors to give us feelings of happiness, satisfaction and pleasure, as well as acting as temporary pain relief.

The problem with sex addiction is not sex itself, but rather a condition in which the many health and social benefits of sex are outweighed by serious negative consequences of obsessive and compulsive sexual behaviour.

being addicted to sex can ruin your life

An addiction like any other

It is important to think of sex addiction in the same terms as addictions to drugs or alcohol to understand the danger it poses to our health.

In both drug and sex addiction, the result of the habit is a re-wiring of our neural reward pathways in the brain, altering the way we experience things like pleasure, euphoria and pain. This is a physical symptom and not just a mental affliction.

How can you tell if someone is addicted to sex?

While the effects on our brains of sex addiction can be similar to what is experienced through chemical dependency on drugs or alcohol, sex addiction is different in that it can be hard to spot in ourselves or close friends or partners.

Serious signs of potential sex addiction include:

  • Obsessive or continual sexual thoughts
  • Being preoccupied with sex while at work
  • Sexual relationships with multiple partners, often strangers
  • Lying to friends, family and partners to cover up behaviour
  • Not being able to control urges
  • Engaging in risky or dangerous behaviour to have sex
  • Feeling guilty after sex but continuing to do it anyway

A dangerous relationship with sexual activity

While the idea of having lots of sex might not seem, on the surface, like a particularly negative affliction, the reality of sex addiction is a dark and dangerous relationship with sexual activity.

Sex addiction is not as simple as having lots of sex.

Instead, it is defined by a compulsive and obsessive attitude to sexual pleasure that can, in extreme circumstances, manifest in the desire to commit acts of sexual violence.

Sex addiction can also be a sign of an addictive personality, where the danger of addiction to other things such as drugs or alcohol increases.

Long-term realities

Sex addiction can have devastating impacts on our interpersonal relationships if left untreated, such as:

  • A complete breakdown of a loving relationship with a partner
  • An inability to engage with strangers without seeing them as sexual objects
  • The likelihood that obsessive sexual behaviour will negatively affect your ability to work
  • Inability to enjoy ‘regular’ or ‘normal’ sex and a desire to engage in more and more extreme sexual behaviour

Treatment options

smarmore-castle
Smarmore Castle in Ireland has dedicated programmes to combat sex and porn addictions. Explore.

Given that the neurological impact of sex addiction on the brain can be similar to the effect of substance abuse, it makes sense to treat sex addiction in a similar way to chemical dependency on heroin, for example.

By seeking treatment at a residential rehab facility, you can begin to break the connection between sex and your uncontrollable impulses through a range of methods, including:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Complementary therapy
  • Psychoeducation

Call 0808 1150 446 to speak to an expert at the Executive Rehab Guide today about how your options for tackling the issue of sex addiction head-on.

NHS Resources

Last Updated on August 5, 2021 by Alison