Sex Addiction Facts Symptoms Treatment & Quiz

celebrity sex addict tiger woodsSex addiction is a topic that many people find interesting, even fascinating. celebrity sex addict michael-douglasHowever, I suspect that most people probably don’t understand what sex addiction, really is – and that can include doctors. People want to know the facts of sex addiction. The questions that many people want to find answers for are

celebrity sex addict charlie sheen What is Sex Addiction?

  • Is it the same as Porn Addiction?
  • Is it the same as frequent masturbation?
  • When does excessive sex become a pathological medical condition – an addiction?
  • What is ‘excessive sex’ anyway?celebrity sex addict russell-brand
  • Am I a Sex Addict?- see quiz below

This article will attempt to give you some guidelines to those answers.

Warning: I cannot diagnose Sex Addiction over the Internet, and you should not diagnose yourself, or others, either. But having reliable information on what is currently known will help anyone to know if they might need to seek professional help – or reassurance, if they are unsure. (see Who Do I Call?)

celebrity sex addict david-duchovnyHelp is available, although the data on the success of such help is still limited.  Mostly, help is provided by CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – a form of counseling), sometimes medication, and also screening for other mental health problems – more on that later in this article.

             A Definition of Sex Addiction

In 2010, M.P. Kafka, was given the task of helping to define Sex Addiction celebrity sex addict bill-murrayfor the update of the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual).  The DSM is the reference document used by mental health workers and others, as a guideline for diagnosing all psychiatric conditions.   Sex Addiction – what he calls Hypersexual Disorder (HD) is one category included in the DSM.

These are the categories Dr Kafka suggested, as the different areas covered by the overall term of Hypersexual Disorder – i.e. Sex Addiction. (see references at end of this article)

  • sexual desire dysregulation,
  • sexual addiction and dependence,
  • sexual compulsivity and
  • impulsive/compulsive disorders.

celebrity sex addict eric-benetWhat do these terms mean? These are diagnostic categories used by psychiatrists to diagnose sex related mental health disorders, and are beyond the scope of this article.

However, the category of Sexual Desire Dys-regulation is interesting, because it describes an in-balance of chemicals in the brain, which is similar to the known in-balances that occur in other forms of addiction.

It has been known for several years that dys-regulation of other chemicals, such as Dopamine, change how the brains of addicted people work, and that affects their behaviour. The Dopamine in-balance involved in most addictions can also affect how people with addictions, think and feel.  In the case of sex addiction, there is an in-balance of the chemical interactions of the body’s own normal, natural sex hormones:

In some people, abnormal levels of cerebral mono-amines, for example, Serotonin, inter-act with the body’s normal sex hormones to produce biologically active chemicals associated with

“Increased sexual appetite, as well as mood, anxiety and attention-deficit disorders, and a propensity (tendency) to substance abuse”  

In other words, in some people (people who develop a sex addiction), some chemicals in their brains cause an increased sexual desire, but also an increased risk of other mental problems such as anxiety and depression, ADHD,  problems with controlling their behavior, and substance abuse.

What Are the Symptoms of Sex Addiction?

I repeat, I cannot diagnose Sex Addiction over the Internet, and you should definitely not diagnose celebrity sex addict kanye-westyourself either, but reliable information is not something that should be kept secret, and unavailable for interested, or concerned, people.  Therefore I have quoted below, the criteria suggested by Kafka to indicate Sex Addiction.

The following criteria: A, B and C must all be present

A. Recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, urges or behaviours over a period of at   least 6 months that include three of the following five criteria

  • The fantasies, urges or behaviours repeatedly interfere with important non-sexual goals, activities or obligations (eg, home or work)
  • Repeatedly engaging in sexual fantasies, urges or behaviours in response to dysphoric moods (eg, depression, anxiety, boredom)
  • Repeatedly engaging in sexual fantasies, urges or behaviours in response to stressful life events
  • Repetitive but unsuccessful attempts to control their sexual urges, behaviours or fantasies
  • Repeatedly engaging in sexual behaviours while disregarding the physical risk (eg, STIs) or emotional harm to self or others

B. There is associated personal distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
C. The problem is not associated with a drug of abuse or a medication.

Outlets for people fulfilling the above criteria might include:

  • Repeated non- monogamous sex (usually with multiple partners)
  • frequent masturbation
  • pornography – including Internet porn
  • cybersex and
  • telephone sex

When these outlet activities also fall within the above criteria A, B and C, they could be considered as being a Sex Addiction.

Other sex addiction indicators might be:

  • re-occurring STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections)
  • multiple sexual partners,
  • sexual promiscuity
  • frequent infidelity
  • frequent contact with sex workers.

Quiz: Am I A Sex Addict?

Examples of the sorts of questions you might ask yourself if you think you might have a sex addiction might be:

  1. Do you feel your sexual behavior is often out of control?
  2. Do you often feel preoccupied with thoughts about sex?
  3. Has your sexual behaviour ever created problems for you, your partner or family?
  4. Is your sex life making it difficult for you to focus on other things in your life (eg, work)?
  5. Do you feel you have to hide aspects of your sexual behaviour?
  6. Are you often left feeling low or depressed after sex?
  7. Have you ever made efforts to change some aspects of your sexual behaviour which resulted in relapse or failure?
  8. Have you ever sought any treatment to help with your feelings that you cannot control your sexual behavior?

The frequency, and time spent doing, any of the above activities, are important factors.  However, the main factor is whether these activities are seen as being problematic to yourself or others, not the actual time spent or frequency of any activity.

That said, if you are spending many hours watching computer porn, or similar activities on a computer, you are also running the risk of developing a computer addiction.  I think most people know when some activity they are doing is becoming a problem, even if it is not yet a full blown addiction.

The message is always: seek treatment early – i.e. as soon as something you do is starting to concern you.  It is much, much, easier to prevent an addiction from developing, than to deal with it successfully once an activity is completely out of your control (addiction).  see Who Do I Call?

If you, or someone you know, might be wondering about whether they have a sex addiction or not, it is important to seek professional advice. There are at least 3 reasons why you should do this:

1. You may be worrying needlessly

2. There is help available if, in fact, you do have a sex addiction

3. You may have some other condition, such as Anxiety, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (amongst others) that might be causing you to behave in ways that cause you or your family, distress and anxiety.  If that is the case, treating both conditions would increase the success of your treatment.

To many people, it might seem obvious, that seeking help for any sex related problem is the best thing that anyone can do, but many people don’t do that, and continue to suffer in silence. Why?

Openly Discussing Sex is Taboo in Most Societies

There are an unknown number of people who secretly wonder if they might have a sex addiction themselves, but who never dare ask anyone else, including their doctor, out of fear. Why fear?

Because most people find confiding such intimate thoughts and behavior to anyone, including their doctor, as deeply embarrassing, intensely shameful and humiliating. They also don’t want to be labeled as a ‘sex addict’, or ‘porn addict’ by anyone, especially their friends.

They might also have the fear that their doctor might lose respect for them, or consider them a ‘weirdo’, or even try to skirt around the topic instead of addressing the needs of their patient.  Unfortunately Smile, doctors are people too.  Many people are uncomfortable with open discussion of intimate personal sexual matters, and unfortunately, that can be the case with doctors too.

I would hope that no doctor would ever react in ways other than being perfectly non -judgmental, and able to discuss any problem freely with their patients.  However, if you have doubts about disclosing these matters to your doctor, you should ring a Help Line so you can be put in touch with health professionals who specifically work with sex addiction.

They also have the ‘advantage’ of not being personally known to you, and are also more likely to have accurate information on the subject.

If you decide to discuss your worries about sex addiction with an ordinary family doctor, it is unlikely that they will have the knowledge and experience to treat you properly themselves.  I would expect most family doctors to refer any patient who has worries about sex addiction, to a someone else who specializes in helping people with those types of sexual problems.  There is help available, and a lot that can be done to help you – and you may not have a sex addiction anyway!

What Treatments Are Available For Sex Addiction?

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is usually part of the treatment.  With CBT, you learn to restructure the ways that you think and feel about various situations, activities, your ability to problem solve, plus many other everyday activities. You learn to deal with these situations and emotions in ways that are less destructive to you in your everyday life.

It can be individual counseling, couples counseling,  family counseling, or group counseling. Recently, some success has been achieved through 12-step self-help programs such as Sex Addicts Anonymous in the UK. These self-help groups are based on a similar structure the AA and NA, and have certainly helped some people deal with their problems.

There has been some success with using medications, such as SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) and other anti-depressants that act on Serotonin levels in the brain.

Although formal testing of the success of these treatments is still limited, they are showing promise in the treatment of Sex Addiction.

Reach Out For Help

You don’t have to be Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen, or Michael Douglas to have a Sex Addiction – it can still be equally destructive to the lives of anyone living with, and around, this problem.

As always, the priority is that if you are concerned about any aspect of the topics discussed in this article, you should seek professional help. You may be worrying needlessly.  I think it is always best to know, then steps can be taken to help you with your concerns or problems.  You don’t have to struggle alone.

References:

1. Kafka MP. Hypersexual disorder: a proposed diagnosis for DSM-V. Arch Sex Behav 2010;39:377e400

2. American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 Development. http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid¼415

3. The Hypersexual Disorder Screening Inventory (HDSI). http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid¼415.

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Comments

Sex Addiction Facts Symptoms Treatment & Quiz — 16 Comments

  1. I am 23 years old and I know that my age makes this seem a little foolish, but me and my wife are obviosly on two seperate wave lengths when it comes to the bedroom. I have tired my welcome it seems and i seem to be making matters worse.

    She is going to school full time and i am at home on disability. i do close to all of the house duties and i am caring and feel i show her plenty of effection and support. i help her study when she needs it and give her full support in that aspect.

    at the beginning of the relationship our sex life was really good, she seemed to want it more than me. Four play is not an option and she never seems to make an effort, it almost seems like she’ll take any way out and but fine with it.

    ive tried talking to her about this numerous times and now she just dismisses me because we fight. things aren’t changing and i don’t know what to do but talk about it. We are yhoung this shouldn’t be an issue…should it. I NEED HELP. i love her and i dont want this to come between us..

    • Hi Justin, sorry to hear you are having problems. Am I correct in understanding that your wife has become less interested in having sex than you are?

      It’s good that you are looking for ways to improve the situation instead of ignoring it, and hoping it will go away.

      There are dozens of reasons why this might be happening, and it’s impossible for me to give you any easy answers without knowing you and your wife personally. But it’s important that neither you or your wife blame yourselves, or each other, for the current situation.

      A mismatch in sexual desire is much more common than most people realize, but there are definitely ways for couples to work through any underlying problems they might be having.

      If you have tried to discuss this with your wife, and your wife says she ‘doesn’t want to talk about it’, you have to respect that, but you also need to find a way to get help before the situation gets any worse.

      Try to look for a Marriage Counselor in your area. If you think your wife would not want to speak to a Marriage Counselor at the moment, contact one yourself. You can explain the whole situation to the Counselor and hopefully they will be able to advise you on how to manage this situation. They will be able to advise you how to approach this topic with your wife that will not make matters worse.

      If you have a local doctor, they might also know of Marriage Counselors in your area. You are doing the right think in trying to get help for these problems instead of ignoring them and hoping they will somehow go away.

      Somehow, you have to find out what the real problem is here, and only your wife can tell you. So you are going to have to find some way to persuade your wife to discuss it with someone so you can both know what to do. A Marriage Counselor has much experience in advising people with exactly the same sort of problem.

      Good luck, and keep in touch.

  2. I’m so worried, i masturbate everyday. And i want sex so badly. But i cant have sex because im in province.

    What should i do? I think im addicted to sex :( I always thinking of sex even in my dreams they appear.

    I dont have boyfriend because i dont want to. I only want them for sex.
    Am i nympho? help :(

    A.

  3. Hi Angella, I’m sorry to hear that you are having problems.

    You don’t say how old you are, but I want to reassure you that you may not be addicted to sex at all. People’s sexual desire varies enormously, and who is to say what is ‘excessive’ or not, anyway.

    The main thing that I get from your post is that it worries you a lot, and so that makes it a problem, for you.

    Your sexual drive may or may not be a problem, but the fact that you worry about it, is making it a problem.

    It is common for young people to masturbate every day, and fantasize about sex too. But no one normally talks about their sexual drive, so most people have no idea what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘abnormal’.

    It is common for people to think that they are somehow different to everyone else, even when everyone else is doing exactly the same things, but in private and keeping quiet about it.

    But because your sexual drive is bothering you, you should try to get some help.

    I’m not sure what you mean when you say you can’t have sex because you are in province. Maybe you could explain what you mean?

    But anyway, try to find a health professional or phone a Help line and find someone to give you some advice.

    Don’t confide in your friends or people with no professional knowledge of sexual problems. Their advice will be unreliable, and they will probably label you and gossip about you to your other friends. No one wants that.

    Good luck and tell us how you go.

    Carol.

  4. I’m desperate! I’ve been dating my boyfriend for around 2 years, he always made it clear, since beginning of our relationship that sex its extremely important for him. Yesterday he open up telling me that I have never made him have and orgasm. I actually thought sex was great cause that’s how he made it seem. He’s been having all this sexually fantasies that he wants us to try, I’m not willing to do it. And this is complete ruining the perfect relationship I thought we have. Because besides this issue we don’t fight and we get along extremely well. I’ve been reading articles on hypersexuality , and everything that I read makes me think he might have a problem. Should I tell him? If so how so I approche it without make him feel bad? Should we seek help? This is a really dificult situation because I love him so much and I don’t want to loose him because of this :(

    • Hi Ale, yes I do think you should try to get some professional help. If you don’t want to make him feel bad, can you phrase it that it is you who needs help to understand how to please him better? I’m not saying that it is you that needs help (or him either) but if you put it like that, he might agree to see someone together, where this problem can be discussed and hopefully sorted out. Good luck with this, Ale – I do hope you can sort this out so that you both find what you are needing in this relationship.

  5. I think Nah I know I love sex & I have cheated more than once but I don’t want to lose my wife & child because of this but I love the quick thrills an entertaining dirty talk from these fetishes Help???

    • Hi terry, we all have to make choices about what we do, and we are always responsible for the choices that we make. Just because you ‘want’ to do something, does not mean that you have to do it.

      There are many questions for you to think about: Which is more important to you, cheating or your family? Have you thought about how your wife would feel if she found out? Do you care what she would feel enough to stop you cheating on her? Would she leave you? And how would you feel about that? How do you feel about lying to your wife? About betraying your wife?

      It’s important that you consider what you are doing from many angles There are many questions that only you can answer. I am sure if you talked to a counselor who deals with this sort of issue, it would help you clarify your issues so you can decide what you should do for yourself and your family. Good luck.

  6. Hi Im 20 years old and I’ve been debating in my head as to wether or not I have a sex addiction. I have recently destroyed my marriage because my husband found out I cheated on him with 3 different guys, on numerous occasions.
    He hasn’t forgiven me for it, but he has agreed to let me try to make things better, by making a lot of changes, to my attitude in specific. I am the kind of person that would lash out at him for no reason, ignore him and his needs to have a real partner by his side.
    A big thing I should add is that on all the occasions I had an affair I wasn’t emotionally or sexually satisfied I would basically do it to do it. Im not going to lie and say it wasn’t exciting, in the beginning, but the act itself didn’t do anything for me, just left me feeling more lonely, ashamed, and disgusted with myself. When I read the statement that some people are actually glad they got caught, I could relate because I wanted to let my husband know what was going on but I never could. And I paid the price because someone else told him instead of it coming from me.
    I don’t know wether I can move past this, as well as making things right with my husband, by myself or if I should seek help. I really need help understanding why it is that this happened and what I can do to make sure it never happens again. Any information will help me be less confused. Thanks

    • Hi Wendy, it sounds like you still want your marriage to work? If that is so, that’s a good start because that is the first question that you have to answer. Once you have honestly answered that question, you can work on several topics. For example, try to work out exactly why you felt the need to have these affairs. If you can answer that question honestly, you will also know what has to change in order for you not to feel that way again.

      There could be many reasons why you had these affairs – for example: perhaps you felt your marriage lacked something. What was it? Is there something either you or your husband could do to bring back that ‘something’ into your marriage? What could you and/or your husband do to change that in the future?

      There WILL be reasons, and only you can work out what they were. However, you would probably find it easier and be more successful if you got professional help to explore those reasons. Professional help would guide you to discover those reasons so you can find ways to avoid them happening again in the future.

      This would probably be done by helping you explore and understand yourself better, to think about, identify, and understand your feelings about yourself, your marriage, your husband etc etc.

      A trained counselor or psychologist would be able to help you (either with or without your husband) to understand exactly WHY you felt you needed affairs outside your marriage. Only you can answer that, but professional help could help you find out your answers.
      Carol recently posted…Have You Fallen in Love With Your Addiction?My Profile

  7. Hello, I’m a 15 year old girl and I think I may have an sex addiction. From an early age I’ve known about sex and I feel that is I’m growing older, it’s becoming a frequent thought in my mind. I’m constantly thinking about it and I always visualise myself in fantasies wherever I am. The only way I express these feelings without having sex is by writing/reading erotic stories, watching porn and engaging in video cyber sex with people.

    It’s getting to the point know where I do one of those things daily and it’s funny because I only lost my virginity a few weeks ago at a party. But after, I did not feel guilty and I wanted to do it again. The person actually wanted to have a relationship with me but I said I didn’t and he pretty much told me I was obsessed with sex. I did not feel any sympathy whatsoever.
    I can see myself when I’m older that I’ll have a real addiction, but I have no one to talk to and no one would understand.

    • Hi Nicole, you are very young to think you have a sex addiction. Of course I cannot know if you do or not without knowing you better. However, it is quite common to be extremely interested in sex at your age.
      Rather than label yourself so young, I recommend that you keep an open mind and see if your interest modifies as you get older, and more experienced.

      Also, there are always people that you can talk to who will understand your concerns. Try a local help line or your doctor and see if they can offer you some guidance.
      Carol recently posted…Have You Fallen in Love With Your Addiction?My Profile

  8. Really hope someone responds as i know this is an old article. Lately my sex drive is in overdrive!! Im 32 with 2 kids (single) and i am in constant contact with at least 3 guys having “text sex” throughout the day. I send and receive pics too. I’ve given out my number and had quite a lot of phone sex in the evenings with several different men. When i orgasm, i need to do it several times to feel fully satisfied. I masturbate every night. Several times while on the phone then at least twice in bed watching porn. I can’t sleep with having an orgasm. The past few nights, i have been so horny that i wake up in the nights with the urge to masturbate. I am so frustrated that i lose my temper easily. I can’t concentrate on anything because i am constantly thinking about sex. I get so turned on it turns into a physical pain. So far i have only invited 2 people to my home but both times were “unsafe” And i can’t say that i won’t invite someone in the future. I have uninstalled the chat apps where i meet these guys but within 24 hours they are back on my phone and i am answering several sexual messages.
    I’ve been like this for about a month but it feels like a genuine addiction! If i can’t masturbate, i get shaky and short tempered. And if i don’t have my phone with me i get anxious about the messages I’m missing.
    I’m not sure if i should go to the doctors because a part of me tells me that i shouldn’t be doing this, im a mum with responsibilities but a bigger part of me just doesn’t care!
    If i go to the doctors, how do i even broach the subject??

    • Hello Loise, sorry this is such a late reply. From what you say it does seem as if you need some professional help. There are several options.

      Whether you feel able to tell your doctor or not depends very much on your relationship with the doctor, and how you think your doctor might react if you broached the subject. Also do you think your doctor would know an appropriate professional to refer you to even if you did disclose your problem?

      An ordinary local family doctor who doesn’t specialize in helping people with Addictions probably has no personal professional knowledge that would be helpful to you. There is also the risk of a hostile or unsympathetic reaction which might affect your relationship in discussing future general medical problems.

      Often, people find it easier to start talking about their problems with someone who does not know them at all, but who also has some knowledge or professional experience with similar problems.

      A no-risk option is to contact your local Help Line. The advantage of a Help line is that it is totally anonymous, but also the people there will know who you can contact safely. Help Lines are in fact ‘a life line’ for people who don’t know who else to speak to or how to get support.

      Another possibility is to find a local Anonymous Group especially if you could find a Sexual Addiction Anonymous Group. Even if you find a local group that doesn’t cater specifically for sexual problems, they will at least be sympathetic. BUT be careful who you tell in the real world for your own safety. The cyber world can be an anonymous (and therefore safer) world, but the real world is real, with real potential risks of personal harm in your circumstances from people you don’t know.

      You and your children need to stay safe. If the group you find is not specifically about sexual addiction, don’t share your problems with everyone in the group at your first meeting, because some of them might try to take advantage of your situation. If you do go to a Non Sexual Anonymous group, try to first talk in confidence to the leader of the group alone, to ask if they know who you could speak to about your particular problem.

      But remember, the only completely no-risk first step would be to contact the Help Line.

  9. Hello, I am Ashanti, 32 I have 3 kids, divorce and I hhave been having sex since I was 16, I can say I was sexually abused by my neighbor 20 years older than me at that time. After that, i enjoyed having different man older than me who take good care of me. I divorced 12 years ago but when I was married, everything was fine after I suffered a deep deception by my ex. After my first 3 years of divorce I started dating different guys and now I have sex with a minimun 12 man a month. Is that an addiction? I know is not ok but I work and I do my shires and normal life as a good woman and mother. I just like to feel sexy and give happiness to my friends

    • Hello Ashanti, it sounds like you have had a difficult life since you were young. The fact that you still want to be a ‘good’ mother and a ‘good’ woman means that you still care about others which is quite an achievement after your experiences.

      It is clear from what you write that you are a caring person who is now worried that you might be a sex addict because of the numbers of men you have sex with. Whether you have an addiction or not really depends on your reasons to have so many partners.

      The key factor in addiction is about loss of control over your behavior. For example:

      Are you compulsively driven to constantly find new men? Or, do you just ‘like’ to find new men, but could stop doing it if you needed to? if it is the later, then I doubt that you have an addiction.

      Only you can know why you want or need to have sex with so many different men – your motivation. If you try to think about your real reasons why you do this, you might understand your motivations better.

      It is not necessarily the number of men, or the number of times you have sex that tells you if you have an addiction.

      It is more about: the strength of the drive that makes you want to find men to have sex with -

      can you control it… or does it control you?

      And must they always be ‘new’ men? Ask yourself why? How would you feel if you decided to not seek out men for sex for a whole month? Could you do it? How difficult would that be?

      If you would find that very difficult, you may have an addiction of some sort – not necessarily a sex addiction, but possibly an exaggerated need for…maybe security, or companionship caused by your previous experiences?

      Talking to a professional about your worries might be useful if you could find one (and afford one). Confiding your worries with someone with some training in psychology might help you understand the reasons causing your need, and together you could possibly find some less dangerous ways to satisfy that need.
      Carol recently posted…Have You Fallen in Love With Your Addiction?My Profile

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