If you’re wondering if you or your loved one are exhibiting signs of a sex addict, then you may have already noticed some worrying habits.
Sex addiction, much like pornography addiction, is an intimacy disorder. Often characterized by an inability to stop compulsive behaviors, sex addiction is a misunderstood condition.
To understand the full weight of this addiction, we must seek to understand what causes it.
What is Sex Addiction?
Classified under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) as compulsive sexual behaviors, some signs of a sex addict include:
- Constantly thinking about sex, to the point that it interferes with your daily life and responsibilities
- Disregard for potential negative consequences of behavior
- Spending an excessive amount of time or energy focused on sex or sexual acts
- Feelings of guilt or shame about your sexual behaviors or masturbation habits
- Engaging in risky or potentially illegal actions
- Cheating on your spouse or partner
These behaviors are all linked to the quest for a dopamine high. Dopamine is known as the “pleasure chemical.”
When we do something that feels good, our brain releases dopamine to create an enjoyable sensation.
When you do something your brain understands as enjoyable or pleasant, dopamine is released. This cycle creates a neural pathway that reminds you that you like that specific thing. Therefore helping you learn that you should do it again.
The problem arises when you continuously repeat the behavior that previously caused pleasure. This repetition creates a chemical dependency in your brain tied directly to the “reward system.”
Rerouting these chemical pathways is possible. Here at the Begin Again Institute, we believe that education is the first step in recovery.
Types of Sex Addiction
Sex addiction, much like the term “compulsive sexual behaviors,” is an umbrella term that can relate to several different addiction types.
Developing an addiction to sexual intercourse could manifest itself in several ways in your life. If your only goal is to seek out and procure sex and sexual partners, that could be a problem. Intimacy and connection should be the main driver of relationships.
You may find yourself:
- Consistently swiping on hook-up applications
- Spending exorbitant amounts of money on sex workers
- Pressuring your partner into sexual acts constantly
Sex may also be a way to escape emotional difficulties.
As pornography becomes easily accessible, pornography addiction becomes more and more common.
If you choose to view pornography instead of having intimate relations with another person, you may be living with a pornography addiction.
You may also find that your pornography watching habits escalate to dangerous levels. Watching pornography in public or watching pornography while at work are some examples.
While regular masturbation is healthy and encouraged by many physicians and therapists, how much is too much?
Choosing to masturbate instead of handling your other responsibilities is when it becomes an issue.
Using masturbation to avoid feelings of loneliness or anger, choosing to masturbate regardless of negative consequences, and choosing masturbation over partnered intimate acts are all prevalent signs.
Signs of a Sex Addict
While the types of sex addiction are technically different, you probably exhibit many of the same symptoms. You or your loved one may display all or just some of them.
Thinking about sex and intimacy often is normal and perfectly healthy.
However, when it becomes a preoccupation, you may be suffering from sex addiction. Continually thinking about the next time you’ll have intercourse or the next time you get to masturbate are all indicators that you’re experiencing compulsive sexual behaviors.
With this preoccupation with sexual pleasure, you’ll have difficulty focusing on other things that need your attention. Neglecting responsibilities or obligations is one of the hallmark signs of a sex addict.
Excessive Time Spent
There are only so many hours in a day.
One of the signs of a sex addict is excessive time spent planning, seeking, or fulfilling your sexual compulsions. For example, you prioritize lining up the perfect set of pornographic films over time spent with friends or family.
When your real-life and responsibilities take a backseat to your sexual habits, you may be living with sex addiction.
Engaging in Risky Behaviors
Those suffering from an intimacy disorder may find that what was once their favorite sexual activity has become boring. You may find yourself escalating your behaviors. This could show up in the pornography you choose, when and where you masturbate, or with whom you’re engaging in sexual acts. These are prevalent signs of a sex addict.
Due to dopamine dysregulation, you have built up a tolerance. You must engage in riskier or more taboo experiences to feel the same as you have before.
You may put yourself in situations where you’re at increased risk of negative consequences. For example, choosing to have unprotected sex with strangers increases your likelihood of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
Masturbating in public, while at work, or watching more and more “hardcore” adult films may also be hallmarks signs of a sex addict.
You’re prioritizing your sexual pleasure above the negative impacts those behaviors could have on your life. You could get arrested, contract a sexually transmitted disease, or lose your spouse or partner.
Infidelity or Partner Betrayal are also common signs of a sex addict.
The person living with a sex addiction may choose to ignore the potential consequences of their actions and seek out sexual relationships with other people from outside of their relationship.
They feel an urge to engage in sexual acts with others, despite knowing that this may cause intense trauma and suffering to their loved ones.
Hiding Your Activity
For those living with sex addiction, the fear of being “found out” is genuine.
Continually clearing your browser history, hiding receipts from adult bookstores, or lying about your sexual habits to those around you, are all indicators, or signs, of a sex addict.
Feeling shame, guilt, and depression about your sexual behavior is expected. However, hiding your habits from others may be a significant indicator that you’re suffering more than you think.
The shame and guilt you may be experiencing due to your sexual behaviors can drive you into isolation.
You may find that you emotionally shut down from those to whom you were close. You may find that you avoid spending time with the people you love out of a sense of guilt about your behaviors.
This depression and isolation will only worsen your problems as you may choose to self-soothe by using masturbation or another sexual stimulus, thus continuing the cycle.
Excessive masturbation is not just as simple as identifying an amount. It is when masturbation becomes a priority in your life, and your actual responsibilities fall to the wayside.
Masturbating several times a day may be a significant warning sign.
Unhealthy self-soothing habits, such as masturbating to relieve stress, are common signs of a sex addict.
Recovery is possible! We employ various techniques to ensure that you get help specifically suited to your needs.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form and method of psychological treatment. It effectively treats various conditions such as addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, and even substance use disorders.
One core principle of CBT is that psychological problems are based on unhelpful thinking patterns and learned behavior patterns.
CBT seeks to help you recognize how distorted perceptions can create problems in your life. It will provide you with the tools to help you resolve difficult situations and develop a greater sense of confidence.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Processing
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy technique that can relieve some psychological stress. EMDR has shown to be especially helpful for those who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
EMDR therapeutic sessions help you recover from triggering or traumatic experiences bit by bit, so they become less upsetting and emotionally distressing.
Over time, this can lessen the impact of traumatic experiences, memories, and thoughts.
At the Begin Again Institute, we offer unique programs focused not only on the person suffering from sex addiction but also on their partner.
14-Day Men’s Intensive
Set against the beautiful scenery of the stunning Rocky Mountains in Colorado, our 14-Day Men’s Intensive offers a unique chance to recover. You will receive around the clock support during your stay.
During the intensive, you will stop your destructive sexual behaviors and find your addiction’s root cause, which will help us create a lasting recovery plan for you.
You will learn to understand how addiction works in the brain and body so you can begin the healing with a deep understanding of your addiction.
Partner Support Program
Our Partner Support Program helps those living with the trauma of being in a relationship with an addict. Our PSP is a supplementary part of the 14-Day Men’s Intensive.
We understand that your experience has been challenging, and your healing is a priority. We are the only treatment center in the country to offer this type of program. You will restore your sense of safety, and we will help you create a solid plan for your future.
Contact us today for more information about our treatment programs or to sign up for the next Intensive.