What is sex addiction?
Look at the checklist below for traits of this addiction; not everyone with sex addiction will have every trait – the acid test is, does your sexual behaviour affect your life and your happiness.
- Anonymous sexual activity
- Repeated relationship breakdown as a result of affairs
- An addiction to pornography
- Compulsive masturbation
- Intense sexual fantasies, that feel obsessive, but also highly arousing
- Problematic sexual behaviours that interfere with a relationship, be this personal, at work or socially.
- A lack of control, and continuing pursuit of the experiences in spite of attempts to stop
- A disregard for health or legal risks this behaviour may incur
Out of control sex behaviour
The term sexual addiction could be used to describe any sustained sexual behaviour that feels 'out of control' and compulsive. It’s characterised by repetitively engaging in these sexual fantasies, urges and behaviour.
They may seek out multiple partners for sexual encounters, but you don’t have to have sex with someone to be an addict. It could be that you spend an increasing amount of your time fantasising about sex acts, watching pornography on the internet (see porn addiction) or pleasuring yourself.
Because we have a liberal attitude to sex in our society, it can be difficult to recognise when a strong libido becomes a problem, and in this sense, sex addiction is similar to alcoholism in its progressive nature.
When it starts to become an issue, there tends to be a distinct increase in both frequency and variety, which can have extreme consequences, often resulting in ordinary day-to-day life becoming virtually unmanageable.
The impact can be devastating, for the person involved and those around them. It can result in the sufferer feeling isolated and experiencing extreme anxiety, depression and even suicidal tendencies.
How to treat sex addiction
We usually perceive sex as a positive act, that can brings pleasure and intimacy. This is why it is often difficult for people to identify they have a problem
So it is only when the addict receives an ultimatum from a concerned family member or boss, that they seek help.
Experts acknowledge that it’s extremely difficult to stop compulsive behaviours on your own, and that success rates are better when you have the support of dedicated staff who can help you to follow a tailor-made programme.
Residential detox clinic, Serena House, in the heart of London, offers a discreet and dynamic environment in which to do this. Consultant psychiatrist Dr Dmitri Popelyuk is a specialist in treating sexual addiction and believes in a holistic approach which treats the whole person.
Is sex addiction a medical condition?
Sex addiction has not been officially recognised as a disorder. However, many mental health professionals and addiction experts now accept it is a discrete disorder in its own right. And with celebrities such as Michael Douglas and Russell Brand talking openly as sufferers, more people are becoming aware of the condition.
It is also known as hypersexual disorder and Compulsive Sexual Behaviour.
Consequences of sex addition
Sex addiction can have a traumatic impact on every area of your life, and be dangerous for your mental and physical health.
You might experience some of the following:
- Feeling isolated, as you spend time away from family and friends to pursue your addiction
- Emotional consequences such as loneliness, shame and loss of self-esteem
- Repeated relationship breakdown as a result of infidelity, and disregard to the risk of physical and emotional harm to self and others
- A health risk, as a result of increased risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV
- Financial hardship, as a consequence of job loss or loss of productivity.
- There can be legal implications too, if the person’s compulsion involves activities such as voyeurism, exhibitionism or public sex
Who becomes a sex addict?
Research shows the condition is nearly twice as common in men than women.
It is substantially higher in late adolescence and early adulthood, with the 20-30 age range being the period in life where sexually compulsive people experience difficulty controlling themselves. Compared with heterosexuals, rates of sexual addiction are significantly higher among gay and bisexual men.
What causes sex addiction?
There are different theories about the root of sex addiction. Here are what are through to be three of the key triggers.
1) Those that suffer from dysphoric mood states such as anxiety, depression, boredom and irritability, may in response engage in repetitive sexual fantasies, urges and behaviour as a form of escape or distraction.
2) Stressful and traumatic life events have also been found to sometimes trigger sex addiction as a way to relieve pressure and emotional pain.
3) People with attachment difficulties, where they find it difficult to relate to others in an appropriate way and form relationships, may be predisposed to problematic sexual behaviour. They are acting out the sexual behaviour in an attempt at intimacy and validation.
4) There may be a biological reason for triggering, or at least exacerbating sex addiction. This may include hormonal abnormality, while the chemical effects of some recreational drugs can affect sexual behaviour.
Treatment for sex addiction
At Serena House, treatment is available from Dr Dmitri Popelyuk, one the UK’s leading experts in the field of sex addictions. Along with the other addiction experts at the clinic, he believes that the best promise for treating Hypersexuality Disorder is using a delicate balance of integrated strategies. A psychiatrist may include the following strategies to help those coming to terms with sex addiction.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help the individual to transform their thought patterns into more effective ways of coping.
- Psychotherapy to improve the emotional and behavioural self-regulation, and to promote the ability of individuals to establish meaningful interpersonal relationships
- Group therapy
- In certain cases, medication
At Serena House dedicated to treating each patient in a holistic way, and providing continuity of care. So that once your detox has got you off to a good start, an aftercare package will ensure you are supported on every step of your journey.
Serena House is a private sex addiction detox clinic in the heart of London
Talk to one of our counsellors on 020 3582 4288.