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What is Sexual Addiction?

What is Sexual Addiction?

During the last 50 years, there has been a growing awareness among the medical community of problematic sexual behavior that did not fit traditional categories.  The sexual behavior seemed to fit similar patterns to substance abuse, pathological gambling, and compuslive eating and often co-occurred with these problems. 

Addiction is a complex biosocial illness. Today we know that Sex Addiction as with all addiction reflects a problem with the neuropathways of the brain.
Trauma, high stress, and addiction are inextricably connected with Sex Addiction.  An inappropriate sexual experience does not necessarily qualify as Sex Addiction.   

There is an overabundance of Pornograpy available to any who want it via the computer or the cell phone.  Culturally we have become desensitized to sexually explicit material on television during prime time. 

More and more children are engaging in "sexting" with their friends.  Sexting is sending or viewing explicit pictures of onesself or friends using the texting feature of the cell phone. 

Adolescents are exploring the world of pornography at rapidly increasing rates on their computers and cell phones. Many experts call cyber-sex the "crack-cocaine" of sexual addiction.

Behavior Patterns of Sex Addiction:


  • Fantasy Sex
  • Voyeurism
  • Exhibitionism
  • Seductive Role Sex
  • Intrusive Sex
  • Anonymous Sex
  • Trading Sex
  • Paying for Sex
  • Pain Exchange
  • Explotive Sex


Signs and Symptoms:


Struggling to stop or control your sexual thoughts or behaviors
Resorting to sex to escape, relieve anxiety, or to cope with problems

Felling shame or guilt after engaging in sexual activities or fantasies

Loss of relationships due to an inability to stop sexual activities outside of the relationship

Putting self at risk for STD's

Losing time from work pursuing sexual activities

Lying about unaccounted for time

Pursuing sexual activiites online



Recovery from Sexual Addiction can be achieved

As with all addictions, revovery is dependent upon the use of different therapy techniques. The recovery process is dependent upon the commitment  of the patient to be an active participant in their own healing and recovery. Sex addicts can move beyond the helpless, trapped feelings that have controlled them in the past.  Primary relationships can become fulfilling and trust can be restored.  

Recover begins with:

1.  An assessment to determine the extent of the addiction and if other co-existing issues may be present.
2.  Recovery-Treatment plan is established with the therapist and the addict.  The plan most often will include a therapy plan, self-care plan, as well as a family plan. 

Family members often are traumatized by the secrets, the disclosure, breach of trust and the sense that they truly did not know their partner.  This is why it is important for partners of addicts to begin their own therapy process as soon as the addict begins therapy.  


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