is Sex Addiction?
define sexual addiction as any sexual activity that feels out of
control. A sex addict feels compelled to seek out and engage in
sexual behaviour, in spite of the problems it may cause in their
personal, social and work lives.
Sexual addition can take many forms, but it's generally characterised
by behaviour that feels out of control.
This behaviour might include:
* excessive use of pornography
* compulsive masturbation
* high-risk sex
* telephone or internet sex
* multiple affairs
* anonymous sexual encountersSex can become addictive in a similar
way to alcohol and illegal drugs. During sex, our bodies release
a powerful cocktail of chemicals that make us feel good. Some people
get addicted to these chemicals and become obsessed with getting
their next fix - their next sexual high. As with other addictions,
the body also gets used to these chemicals, so the sufferer needs
increasing amounts of sex to achieve the same buzz.
the highs of sexual and chemical fulfilment are the lows. These
are often characterised by feelings of shame, regret, remorse
and anxiety. Sex addicts can feel alone, isolated and powerless
to change their behaviour. And so the cycle begins again, as they
seek out sex as a way to escape these difficult feelings.
How common is it?
According to conservative estimates, between three and six
per cent of the population experience sexual addiction, but it's
likely that the real figure is much higher. As the addiction can
be accompanied by feelings of shame and embarrassment, sex addicts
often find it difficult to seek help.
no profile of a typical sex addict. Sufferers come from every
walk of life and approximately 20 per cent are female. Women can
have particular problems being taken seriously when they look
for help for compulsive sexual behaviour.
the launch of the internet, with it's vast range of sexual services
available cheaply and anonymously, professionals have seen a massive
increase in sexual addiction. And with limited services available
for sufferers, it looks as though the problem will continue to
you think you're a sex addict
What are the signs?
A leading expert in sexual addiction, suggests there are ten
possible warning signs:
1. Feeling that your behaviour is out of control
2. Being aware that there may be severe consequences if you continue
3. Feeling unable to stop your behaviour, despite knowing the
4. Persistently pursuing destructive and/or high-risk activities
5. Wanting to stop or control what you're doing and taking active
steps to limit your activities
6. Using sexual fantasies as a way of coping with difficult feelings
7. Needing more and more sexual activity in order to experience
the same high
8. Experiencing intense mood swings around sexual activity
9. Spending an increasing amount of time planning, engaging in
or regretting and recovering from sexual activities
10. Neglecting important social, occupational or recreational
activities in favour of sexual behaviour
If you've recognised any of the above in your own behaviour,
the most important step you can take is to acknowledge that sexual
addiction is a real problem that won't go away by itself. You must
take personal responsibility for your recovery.
addicts find it very difficult to change their behaviour on their
own. You may be able to minimise the behaviour for a while, but
often the cycle is too strong. A professional therapist can help
you to understand what's happening and encourage you to take steps
to change to a healthier sexual lifestyle.
If your partner's a sex addict
If you suspect that your partner is a sex addict, chances
are you've already tried to change their behaviour. Ultimately,
though, no one can recover from an addiction unless they accept
that they have a problem and want to change.
A survey of sexual addicts (source: Dr Carne's site, www.sexhelp.com)
revealed that as a result of their behaviour:
* 70 per cent had severe relationship problems
* 40 per cent had lost a partner
* 27 per cent had lost career opportunities
* 40 per cent had experienced unwanted pregnancies
* 72 per cent suffered suicidal obsession
* 17 per cent had attempted suicide
* 68 per cent had been exposed to sexually transmitted infections