What Is a Sexual Addiction?

Dan Cavallari

A sexual addiction is a behavior that relates to sex or sexuality that occurs more frequently than is generally regarded as normal, or in such a way that a person does not feel in control of sexual urges or actions. A clear definition of the actual problem has not been developed, as researchers often disagree on whether this is a disorder itself or if it is a subset of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). A person suffering from a sexual addiction may be hypersexual, which means he or she engages in sexual activity compulsively or overly frequently.

A person with a sexual addiction will engage in sexual activity compulsively or overly frequently.
A person with a sexual addiction will engage in sexual activity compulsively or overly frequently.

Treatments for sexual addiction can vary, but most often, support groups are available to help addicts cope with the issue. Sometimes online support groups are available for people who are not comfortable discussing the issue in person or for people who cannot make it to an in-person meeting. Mental health professionals may also offer services to people suffering from sexual addiction. Medications are not usually prescribed for such issues, unless the sexual behavior is linked to another treatable condition that would benefit from medications. Many support groups strive to find the underlying cause of the sexual addiction rather than try to cure the condition itself.

Very often, a sexual addiction is closely associated with other conditions including low self-esteem, depression, a low sense of self worth, or even hyperactivity. A sexual addict may exhibit other problematic symptoms, making the specific diagnosis and subsequent treatment somewhat difficult to determine. The behaviors are very often accompanied by failed attempts to change the behavior, or an inability to control urges or activities, thereby affecting daily routines and relationships. The sexual addiction can lead to relationship issues on every level, and in some cases, the addiction itself may be the result of a traumatic interpersonal relationship or some types of abuse.

A person suffering from such an addiction may become preoccupied with the behavior itself or the preparations needed in order to continue the behavior. Such a preoccupation can become problematic in terms of holding down a steady job, maintaining relationships, or even ensuring basic daily needs are met. In some cases, the addiction may lead to increasingly risky behaviors that can put the body or mind at a safety risk. Some researchers believe the addiction is the result of a need for stimulation, leading them to believe this may be one form of thrill seeking.

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