Sex addiction has become more and more rampant in our society since the introduction of widespread pornography access on the internet. Addictive sexual disorders have distinct parallels with other addictions, commonly co-exist with substance-related disorders, and often respond to the addiction biopsychosocial model of treatment and therapy. In an anonymous survey of 75 self-diagnosed sex addicts (Schneider & Schneider 1991), 39% were also recovering from chemical dependency and 32% had an eating disorder. In another study (Washton, 1987), 70% of cocaine addicts entering treatment were found to be engaging in compulsive sexual behavior as well. If unrecognized and untreated, these sexual disorders lead directly to substance abuse relapse, and compulsive sexual behavior has contributed significantly to the current epidemic of sexually-transmitted diseases, including AIDS.
Sexual addiction and childhood abuse are connected to a frightening extent. According to experts (Carnes, 1991), over 80% of sex addicts were abused as children. Such abuse distorts an individual’s perception of sexuality, leading to a warped view of sexual norms and desires. The criteria for a diagnosis of sexual addiction include an extreme preoccupation with certain sexual activities, continuation of sexual behavior despite negative consequences, and a sense of a loss of control over sexual behavior. The central facet of sex addiction is the process of acting out where the individual becomes squarely focus on achieving the sexual conquest or release. This intense form of extreme indulgence is characterized by a loss of control over the frequency and the duration of such behaviors. Acting out behaviors run the gamut from obvious promiscuity with countless partners to solitary acts like compulsive masturbation, voyeurism and exhibitionism. Other patterns of addictive sexual behaviors include seductive role sex, anonymous sex, paying for sex, trading sex, voyeuristic sex, exhibitionistic sex, and intrusive sex. Further extreme forms include pain exchange (sexual sadism and masochism) and exploitive illegal sex (pedophilia and bestiality).
Factors in the diagnosis of sex addiction include the following: 1) neglecting obligations such as work, school or family in pursuit of sex, 2) frequently engaging in more sex and with more partners than intended, 3) consistently buying and looking at pornography in magazines, videos and/or on the web, and 4) becoming demanding about sex with your partner, particularly in regards to time and place. Although these are just some of the factors involved, sex addiction is a deadly behavior that can destroy families, careers and relationships. If you feel badly about and hide aspects of your sexual behavior from your partner while being consistently preoccupied with obtaining sex, then sexual addiction is a definite possibility and you need to obtain help and treatment. ONE80CENTER understands the raging fire sex addiction can fuel in a client’s life, and we have extensive experience helping clients overcome this disease.