The term “sex addiction” raises several eyebrows based on its controversies. Interestingly, the Diagnostic and Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM-5) is yet to address this as a diagnosable condition. However, there is a ton of research and documentation on it in psychology and other related areas. Even though sex addiction has not been included in DSM-5, specialists can still use the standard classification manual and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) to diagnose it, although as other sexual dysfunction unrelated to a psychological condition.
What is Sex Addiction?
Based on the ICD-10 criteria, sex addiction involves the compulsive desire to fulfil a sexual act (or activities) to gratify specific cravings and achieve satisfaction. This situation compares to that of a chronic alcoholic or a drug-dependent person. It is worth mentioning that sex addiction is not the same as porn addiction, bestiality, or paedophilia. These are different types of addiction.
As such, porn addiction is a subset of sex addiction, which is also not a diagnosed condition according to ICD-10 and DSM-5. On the end of the spectrum, sex addiction can pose danger and challenges to the addict, one of which includes a hampered sexual relationship with one’s partner. It is a causative factor of several adverse effects on an individual’s physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Sex addiction is known to affect a person’s quality of lifestyle.
Most people are of the school of thought that sex addicts tend to have multiple sex partners to fulfil their sexual cravings. However, this does not specifically show any form of the disorder. According to some research and reports, such victims are more likely to resort to pornography and masturbation, which are self-gratifying windows that provide them with relief. Additionally, such individuals tend to modify their lifestyle and schedules to accommodate their sexual fantasies and activities, which may occur at several intervals daily. They may be unable to control their behaviour, which in itself endangers their lifestyles.
Types of Sex Addiction
There are no classifications when it comes to sex addiction. Nevertheless, this “condition” can manifest in various forms, including the following:
- Sexual fantasies
- And other sexual channels
Symptoms of Sex Addiction
Presently, there is no ascertainment to specific criteria that factors in sex addiction as an “Addiction,” since there is no coverage on this subject in the DSM-5. One thing stands out with sex addicts; often, they keep their sexual activities secret and mask their behaviour in such a way that it eludes the radar of their family, partners, and friends. They tend to carry out sexual acts in hidden places, out of the reach of those close to them, and may even lie about their whereabouts. Notwithstanding, specific symptoms stand out when these individuals.
- An irrational and obsessive desire or act of associating with multiple sexual partners, including strangers.
- Compulsive sexual fantasies.
- Masking sexual acts and thoughts with lies.
- Lack of restraint on such behaviour.
- Endangering one’s self or others with one’s sexual behaviour.
- Excessive sexual acts that interrupt one’s daily activities and productivity.
- The feeling of guilt or remorse after a sexual act.
- Experiencing adverse effects resulting from sexual acts or fantasies.
Sex addiction can endanger an individual’s relationship as cases of infidelity can lead to a breakup or divorce. Some victims link infidelity to their addictions. As a reminder, high sexual activities do not imply that a person is a sex addict. This act is an essential aspect of life, one that should be enjoyed. However, when it gets out of control or involves the use of deceitful means to gratify such desires, it becomes an addiction.
Treating Sex Addiction
It is worth noting that is no predefined, evidence-based treatment program for sex addiction as it is not included in DSM-5 and ICD-10. As such, there are controversies on this subject. That does not mean that there is no means to resolve this challenge. People who battle sex addiction tend to have a hard time maintaining a stable and healthy relationship with their spouses and may endanger the health of sexual partners involved, including strangers. Hence, they tend to seek treatment solutions from professionals, who may recommend the following options:
Provision of Medication
One of the treatment programs that a sex addict may need is drug therapy. Specialists can recommend antidepressants to repress sexual urges. However, it is worth noting that some of these drugs have side effects that may decrease an individual’s libido or hamper other areas of one’s sexual health. Nonetheless, such a recommendation is based on the physician providing treatment.
In-Patient Treatment Programs
In seeking treatment for sex addiction, a patient may request the services of inpatient treatment facilities that provide recovery programs for this condition. As part of the treatment process, the physician detaches the addict from regular daily activities for a period of 30 days or more. This step helps them get a grip on their impulses. As such, it is easy to commence the healing process. Such programs may include one-on-one or group therapy sessions, or both.
In-patient treatment programs may use the same recovery process like other addictions, like alcohol abuse treatment – Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). An example is Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), which helps resolve sex addiction. One misconception people likely have is that such treatment programs require giving up sex entirely. That is far from reality. Physicians addressing sex addiction recommend that addicts abstain from obsessive and damaging sexual behaviour. For this reason, group therapy sessions provide such individuals with a support mechanism that helps them regain control of their urges.
Apart from Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), in-patient treatment centres may recommend cognitive behavioural therapy. What does this mean? In such treatment programs, the addict identifies causative factors of sexual impulses. These are elements that trigger uncontrollable sexual urges, including the type of environment. Often, such programs require a one-on-one therapy session with a certified psychotherapist.
First Step to Getting Treatment
Most people who suffer from sex addiction are often ashamed to talk about it due to the stigmatization it brings. However, having the right people around to provide support is essential in breaking free from this condition. One of those individuals can be a family doctor or even a reputable organization that addresses sex addiction.
There are questions about the successful treatment of sex addiction. It is essential to note that this condition is treatable with the right licensed physician or psychologist. Such health professionals identify and provide solutions to underlying triggers of addictions, like porn addiction, prostitution, masturbation, and many more. Additionally, they teach addicts how to deal with their thoughts and behaviours.