What is Sexual Addiction and How It Can Affect You, Your Family, Your Life?
Sex is a healthy and natural way to enjoy ourselves and create a bond with others. However, just like food or drugs; sex can be misused to numb and distract ourselves from stress and emotional pain.
Sexual addiction is a dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual urges, fantasies, and behaviors, often involving the obsessive pursuit of objectified non-intimate sexuality: pornography, casual/anonymous sex, and prostitution, among others. The problem is only getting worse as we are flooded with pornographic content on-line, easy hook-up apps and more graphic sexual content on cable TV.
Despite “failed” attempts to stop, this adult pattern of problem-inducing sexual urges, fantasies, and behaviors must continue for a period of at least six months to be considered sexual addiction. In short, sex addiction is an ongoing, out-of-control pattern of compulsive sexual fantasies and behaviors that cause problems in the addict’s life. (Weiss, R. (2015). Sex Addiction 101: A basic guide to healing from sex, porn, and love addiction. Deerfield Beach, Fl: Health Communications Inc.)
Here are 7 signs of sexual addiction from the book Don’t Call it Love: Recovery from Sexual Addiction:
- A pattern of out-of-control sexual behavior
- Severe or ongoing life consequences due to sexual behavior
- An inability to stop sexual behavior despite adverse consequences and previous attempts to stop
- Persistent pursuit of self-destructive or high-risk sexual behavior (to self or others)
- Important social, recreational, or occupational activities are sacrificed or reduced because of sexual behavior
- Ongoing desire for change or failed attempts to limit sexual behavior
- Sexual obsession and fantasy are becoming primary emotional coping strategies.
Sexual addiction is often rooted in negative childhood experiences—a history of sexual or other traumatic experiences during childhood. However, more young people are being exposed to extreme pornographic material at very early ages due to the vast quantities and ease of access on the Internet. This pornography exposure can lead to Sexual Addiction in adulthood even though these young people may not have had a traumatic or even difficult childhood.
The consequences of pornography addiction can stunt the addict’s ability to have normal sexual relationships and connect intimately with their future romantic partners. Pornography addiction is reaching epidemic proportions. Statistics now show 17 to 37 million people suffer from sexual addiction.
Men are specifically susceptible to sexual addiction which leads them to feel enslaved to their sexual thoughts and acts.