Boulder Recovery Blog

It’s estimated that up to 5% of the U.S. population has a sex addiction. That means they can’t control their sexual behaviors. But what causes sex addiction? This post will help you understand more.

What Causes Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction is uncontrollable sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors. Also called “hypersexuality disorder,” it’s not just sex that a person can be addicted to. They also may be addicted to masturbation or pornography. Regardless of how a sex addiction manifests itself, it causes severe emotional distress and negatively affects a person’s life. As a result, they may try to stop the behavior on their own, but find they can’t.

There is no one cause of sex addiction. It depends on the person and their unique circumstances.

Causes of sex addiction include:

  • Unresolved Trauma. Not emotionally processing and coping with a traumatic event like a life-threatening accident, abuse, or ongoing severe stress can result in a person attempting to numb their emotions or dealing unhealthily with stressors. 
  • Medical Conditions. Some medical conditions can cause changes in the brain that may affect sexual behavior.
  • Family History. Like alcohol and drug addiction, sex addiction can result from a history of similar behaviors in a person’s family. Children learn and accept behaviors from their parents and those around them.

A man sitting at the end of a bed with his hands on his head and seems to be so worried

Trauma and Sex Addiction

Traumatic experiences drive addictive behaviors. These experiences have negative effects on a person’s overall well-being. They leave the person feeling out of control and attempt to resolve those feelings. Sometimes the easiest, fastest, or the most readily available way to feel better is not the healthiest choice and, when repeated frequently, it can result in addiction.

Examples of traumatic experiences include:

  • Death or Near-Death Experience. Experiencing, witnessing, or learning about something that results in the death of another person or the near-death of yourself or another person is a traumatic experience. These happenings include car wrecks, domestic violence, or natural disasters.
  • Lack of Parental Attunement. If a parent or guardian doesn’t fulfill a child’s basic emotional needs, it can leave the child unable to trust and connect with others. This lack of connection continues into adulthood.
  • Abrupt or Extended Relocation. When taken from an otherwise healthy and loving home environment or being forced to go to an unfamiliar place for an extended time, a person can experience stress from a lack of stability.
  • Divorce or Parental Separation. This common occurrence disrupts an environment that was possibly one of comfort and security. It creates emotional turmoil for the couple involved and those around them, especially their children.
  • Death. Grief and adjustment are challenging when a loved one dies.
  • Rejection. Whether friends or family members reject a person, it wrecks their self-image. Rejection leaves the person with feelings of self-doubt or not being “good enough.”
  • Financial Worries. A lack of financial security causes a great deal of stress and uncertainty.
  • Infidelity. Infidelity can do irreparable damage to any relationship. It also affects those around the couple.

Trauma as a Cause of Sex Addiction

People can develop sex addiction when they use sex to cope with trauma. They want to feel better, even temporarily. But using sex to cope can cause a profound sense of shame and negatively impact their life.

Signs of sex addiction include:

  • Taking part in out-of-control, self-destructive, or high-risk behavior

  • Spending excessive and increasing amounts of time on sexual behaviors
  • Experiencing severe mood changes

  • Neglecting or withdrawing from activities because of sexual behavior

  • Inability to stop the harmful behavior, regardless of consequences

Getting Help at Boulder Recovery 

There is help for sex addiction. Boulder Recovery can help afflicted men return to healthy, God-honoring relationships with their wives. Our 14-Day Men’s Intensive applies a Christ-centered, neurological approach to understanding and healing sex addiction. Contact Boulder Recovery to begin healing your mind, body, and spirit.

  • Category: Addiction
  • By Lawrence Buddoo
  • January 19, 2022

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