Sex can become addictive in a similar way to alcohol and drugs. During sexual activity, an individual's body releases a powerful cocktail of chemicals that makes them feel good. Some people get addicted to these chemicals and become obsessed with getting their next sexual high.
Sexual addiction is characterized by out of control or compulsive behavior that is marked with consequences or possible consequences. Sex addicts have difficulty with closeness or intimacy in relationships and use their sexual behaviors to escape painful and stressful feelings. Often, sex addicts will use denial, minimizing and lying to avoid the truth of their behaviors to themselves and others. These behaviors as well as the shame and self-contempt from all of it, isolate the addict from others they love and from the joy of life. Although, only one-third of the sex addict population are women (2/3 are men), this number is probably an under-estimation due to shame and fear of women getting help for this disease. Some sexually compulsive behaviors include:
- Cybersex (internet porn, chat rooms and other adult websites)
- Compulsive masturbation
- Affairs or multiple partners
- Professional boundary violations
- Paying for sex
- Strip clubs
To take a quick online assessment, you can visit www.sexhelp.com
Without treatment, recovery from sexual addiction can be very difficult. Sexual health is the objective in treatment, where sexuality should be an integral and balanced part of everyone's life. Overcoming sexual addictions requires commitment, hard work and to settle for nothing less than a full recovery. With it comes integrity, true intimacy and joy.
Partners/spouses and family are also affected by the addiction and have consequences of their own that can be emotionally devastating and require help and recovery as well.
Sexual anorexia is an obsessive state in which the physical, mental and emotional task of avoiding sex dominates a person's life. Sexual anorexia can make a person feel powerful and defended. It often becomes a way to cope with stress and life's diffuculties. A person who is sexually anorexic seeks ways not to combine intimacy with sex.
Some common characteristics of sexual anorexia are:
- Fear and avoidance of sexual contact
- Rigid, judgemental attitudes about sex
- Shame and self-loathing over sexual experiences
- Self-destructive behavior to limit, stop or avoid sex
Sexual anorexia can be treated. Treatment starts with effective counseling to determine the cause.