Sex Addiction

Sex addiction or hypersexuality is generally defined as any sexual activity that feels irrepressible. This could be through sex with a partner, but it may also involve masturbation, pornography, paying for sex or engaging in indirect sexual activity online.Sex addiction is typically characterised by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Like all addictions, as the disorder progresses over time the negative impact on a sufferer's personal life is likely to increase and the addictive behaviour will intensify as it begins take more and more to achieve the same results or 'fix'.

Effects of Sex Addiction

Social Effects
Sex addicts can become so preoccupied with sex that emotional distance between themselves and their loved ones begins to form and loss of central relationships may occur as a result. For those in relationships especially, a sex addiction could lead to a family breakdown.

Emotional Effects
Both anxiety and stress are common in addicts. Often these issues have always been there beneath the surface and have perhaps acted as a trigger for the addiction, while other times it will be the addiction itself that prompts them to emerge. It's also common for addicts to feel shame and guilt about their actions - with many going on to develop a low sense of self-worth and in some cases, depression.

Physical Effects
Physical risks include the possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STIs), or in severe cases genital injury or HIV/AIDs.

Legal Effects
In some extreme cases sexual addiction may lead sufferers to violate the law. Exhibitionism, obscene phone calls, prostitution, voyeurism and in some cases - sexual harassment can all stem from addictive sexual behaviours. Understandably, any legal action launched against an individual would also put their professional status at risk, demonstrating the reverberating impact this addiction can have if left unaddressed.

Financial/occupational
Debt may arise as a direct impact of the cost of cybersex, phone sex, prostitutes or purchasing adult material, or may happen indirectly as a result of job loss or family breakdown.

The Causes of Sex Addiction

Biological Causes
A common school of thought is that some biochemical abnormality or other brain changes may affect the pleasure and reward pathway in the brain. This pathway leads into the area of the brain responsible for rational thought and judgement, and in the case of sex addiction may be telling the addict that sexual behaviour is good, in the same way that food is good when they are hungry. In addition, sex also produces the feel good hormones opioids and dopamine - which give pleasure and further accentuate the addiction and preoccupation with sex.

Psychological Causes

On a psychological level, sexual behaviours seem to be less about intimacy for addicts and more about escapism. Sex addicts reportedly use their addiction to seek pleasure that eclipses or allows them to avoid outside stressors such as family issues or problems at work. This pattern shares many similarities with drug and alcohol abuse - all see a reward gained from the addiction but this soon gives way to remorse and guilt.



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