You can be addicted to drugs. You can be addicted to alcohol. You can be addicted to gambling. And you can be addicted to sex. In a certain sense, all of these addictions – or any type of addiction – are the same in that they involve the inability to stop pursuing some type of compulsive behavior despite its potentially destructive consequences.
Like most other addictions, to get the same results the person who is addicted to sexual gratification usually needs to intensify their addictive behavior over time.
Yet unlike other types of addictions, sexual addiction is potentially more destructive because it involves issues of intimacy and often has more of a direct effect on other people – both physically and emotionally.
Type of Sexual Addiction
Not all sex addicts need a partner in order to feed their insatiable need for sexual gratification. Some sex addicts are satisfied with – or even prefer – compulsively masturbating, using pornography extensively, or engaging in non-physical sexual stimulation with other people over the Internet – known as cybersex — or through phone sex services.
For still other sex addicts, feeding their addiction requires them to commit criminal acts. These can include making obscene phone calls, being a peeping Tom, exposing ones’ genitals to other people, having inappropriate sexual contact with children, or even committing sexual assault.
It’s important to note, however, that not all sex addicts are criminals and not all sex criminals are addicted to sexual gratification. Still, an overlap between the two is not uncommon: About 55% of sex criminals have been diagnosed with sexual addiction.
Sex and Need
Everybody has an innate natural need for sexual gratification, but while most people are able to control their sexual desires most of the time, others are not. These are the people who are officially labeled “sex addicts”, according to the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity.
The official designation of sex addict is anyone who is “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others,” according to the council.
To see how closely related sexual addiction is with other types of compulsive behavior, simply substitute the words “sexual behavior” with any other type of addiction – be it to drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, or some other type of destructive behavior.
Like any other type of addict, a person who is addicted to sex will continue to pursue their sexual gratification despite the potential risks to their health, their relationships with loved ones, and even their freedom. Many people currently incarcerated for sex crimes are actually suffering from sexual addiction or other forms of compulsive behavior.
Sex Addiction on the Rise
Sexual addiction is an actual condition that negatively affects the lives of many people – both those who are suffering from the condition as well as their family members, friends, associates, and victims. In fact, sex addiction may even be on the rise due to the loosening of moral standards in society and the acceptable provocative nature of sexuality as depicted in TV, movies and other forms of popular culture.
For somebody struggling with sex addiction this relaxing of sexual mores combined with the rise of the Internet can often contribute to the acceleration of their condition.
Apps such as Tinder and Grinder simplify the process of finding heterosexual and homosexual sexual partners, respectively, while the widespread availability of pornography online and the plethora of sex-related chat rooms and other websites often make it difficult for the sexually addicted person to escape temptation.
For the sexually addicted – and for the average person – it can now seem as though sexual stimulation is everywhere: In provocative advertising, in nudity in mainstream movies and TV, in the sexual nature of much popular music, and especially online.
Treatment and Recovery
Still, a diagnosis of sex addiction is not a death sentence. There are treatment options available, most of which involve in-patient or out-patient counseling such as behavioral therapy and – like drug and alcohol addicts — 12-step programs.
Sexuality is something that everybody experiences, whether they choose to act on it or not. To people who are sexual addicts, the ability to control their sexuality – and how they choose to act out on these natural feelings – is unchecked.
Curing sexual addiction typically requires the same combination of psychotherapy and group counseling that is used to treat any other type of compulsive behavior – be it overeating, alcoholism, drug addiction, or the inability to control shopping or gambling.
But unlike persons with substance addictions and other struggles with compulsive behavior, sex addicts don’t always need to abstain from sex for the rest of their lives in order to make a full recovery.
Over time, with the proper treatment and support they often are able to return to normal, loving relationships that involve both intimacy and sex in a controllable environment.
Author Bio – This guest article has been written by Jacob Smith in favor of The Cabin Bangkok, a specialized center for sex addiction counselling in Bangkok, Thailand.