The Complete Rundown on Sex Addiction: How to Deal with Compulsive Sexual Behavior

UltraPharmRX Medical Team

UltraPharmRX Medical Team

 

Sex addiction is characterized as a repetitive, compulsive preoccupation with sexual urges, fantasies, or acts that could lead to psychological distress and impairment.

Sex addiction is also known as compulsive sexual behavior, excessive sexuality, problematic sexual behavior, or hypersexuality.

 

Sex addiction is often categorized as a behavioral addiction similar to opiate or alcohol addiction because they produce a “high” or temporary state of euphoria that reinforces the behavior. Like any other addiction, a person afflicted with sex addiction is incapable of reining in the behavior, and repeatedly doing it even if it causes distress or problems in other aspects of their life.

 

What are the signs and symptoms of sex addiction?

 

The signs and symptoms related to sex addiction are distinguished by an inability to restrain intense sexual impulses that result in the following:

 

  • Repeated, obsessive sexual behavior over six months or more
  • Sexual behavior that causes trouble functioning or distress
  • Repeated sexual behavior that becomes the primary focus of the affected person’s life to the point of abandoning their responsibilities, health, and activities
  • The affected individual has tried to curtail or reduce repeated sexual behavior
  • The affected individual continues to engage in obsessive sexual behavior regardless of its negative effects
  • The affected individual continues to engage in obsessive sexual behavior even when they no longer find it satisfying or pleasurable

 

Some individuals are naturally born with a high sex drive. However, if they don’t experience problems carrying out their responsibilities or functions, or if their high sex drive isn’t causing them distress, they aren’t necessarily addicted to sex.

Moreover, teenagers or young adults typically have a higher sex drive and more interest in sexual behavior such as masturbation. In some cases, such behavior may cause emotional or physical distress. However, this is perfectly normal behavior in teenagers and isn’t indicative of sex addiction.

Getting ED medication has never been easier

Connect with a US-licensed healthcare provider for a FREE evaluation!

 

What causes uncontrollable addictive sexual behavior?

 

The exact cause of addictive behavior isn’t precisely known. However, scientists believe that a variety of interacting factors between personality, genetics, environment, and brain-related changes are responsible for it.

People with sex addiction or other types of behavioral addiction report high scores in self-reported impulsivity, compulsivity, and sensation-seeking tests. This draws parallels between individuals with substance abuse issues, the latter of which has been more extensively studied. 

 

If you are diagnosed with addictive behavior, you might also be at risk for other psychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, substance abuse issues, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

It is thought that a number of brain neurotransmitter systems play a role in producing substance abuse disorders and behavioral addiction. These involve serotonin, a brain chemical linked to behavioral inhibition, as well as dopamine, which is closely linked to the reward, motivation, and learning centers of the brain.

 

How do I get diagnosed with sex addiction?

 

If you suspect that you may have an addiction to sex, your healthcare provider should first rule out the possibility of medical reasons causing such behavior. Hypersexual behavior is linked to certain mental and physical health conditions such as bipolar mania, Pick’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or Kleine-Levin syndrome.

 

Moreover, certain medicines and recreational drugs may lead to a proclivity to sexual behavior. Consult your doctor about how to safely cease taking any of the following substances:

 

  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine or amphetamines
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB, known as a date-rape drug)
  • Substances used to treat Parkinson’s disease known as dopamine agonists, which activate dopamine receptors in the brain

 

Sex addiction isn’t recognized in the canon of psychiatric disorders under the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5. Therefore, mental health professionals have some leeway in how they diagnose sex addiction and its symptoms.

In some individuals, it manifests symptoms similar to addictive disorders. Others may show symptoms resembling issues with controlling impulsive behavior. Yet others may demonstrate sexual urges that cause them to act out on their fantasies, resembling textbook obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Depending on your symptoms, your healthcare provider will help determine which diagnosis is most appropriate for your symptoms and help you formulate a specific treatment plan to address them.

 

What problems can sex addiction cause?

 

Sex addiction, like most addictive behavior, can get in the way and affect various facets of a person’s life. For instance, individuals who struggle with the compulsion to sexual behavior may experience the following consequences:

 

  • Unplanned or unwanted pregnancies
  • Sexually-transmitted diseases or infections such as HIV/AIDS
  • Physical trauma or injuries due to obsessive, repetitive sexual behavior

 

Sex addiction can also cause substantial mental distress. For instance, approximately 50% of individuals with sex addiction report that their fantasies, behaviors, and thoughts affect various aspects of their life––including their social, professional, and sex lives.

Due to the distress it causes, individuals with sex addiction are at a greater risk of attempted suicide (19%) compared to the rest of the population (4.6%). If you dealing with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, get in touch with your local suicide crisis hotlines immediately.

 

How is compulsive sexual behavior treated?

 

Treatment for sex addiction resembles treatment for substance abuse and other similar addictions. However, very little data exists as far as the outcomes, predictors, and success rates of such treatments for sex addiction.

Getting ED medication has never been easier

Connect with a US-licensed healthcare provider for a FREE evaluation!

 

Medicines

 

There are no FDA-approved medicines for sex addiction. Consequently, there are no known comprehensive trials using medicines for sex addiction that have been published.

Medicines have been used off-label to treat sex addiction, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), mood stabilizers, and naltrexone.

 

SSRIs are thought to reduce the obsession and urge with engaging in sexual behavior. For instance, studies have been conducted with regard to using SSRIs, particularly their side effects, to reduce libido and create sexual dysfunction, to no avail. In a 2006 research, it was suggested that people who would benefit from such a treatment would have other mental disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, or depression––conditions that SSRIs have successfully treated. 

 

Mood stabilizers such as lithium and valproic may also help treat people with bipolar disorders that contribute to or exacerbate sexual addiction. However, more studies need to be performed if these drugs can independently help curb sexual urges in people without bipolar disorder.

 

Lastly, naltrexone has been used in cases of addictive behavior to curb urges and desires by inhibiting the temporary state of euphoria, or the “high” caused by such behavior. In a small study cited in 2006, 15 out of 21 teenage sexual offenders experienced substantial reductions in impulsive sexual behavior in a naltrexone trial.

 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment that helps individuals to distinguish the triggers that cause them to engage in addictive sexual behavior and helps them determine coping skills and make better choices to help curb unchecked desires.

CBT for sex addiction resembles CBT for substance abuse disorders, with a focus on preventing relapse.

Other therapies that may help with sex addiction include family therapy, couples therapy, peer groups, or psychodynamic psychotherapy.

 

Peer support groups for sex addiction based on the 12-step method that Alcoholics Anonymous pioneered exist. However, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence supporting the success of such groups. Nevertheless, they are recommended because they provide a way for individuals struggling with sex addiction to drawing strength, support, and accountability from people with similar backgrounds.

Receive Expert Quality Care
from your phone or computer,
with UltraPharmRX

  • 100% U.S. Licensed Medical Provider
  • U.S. Licensed Pharmacy
  • Discreet Shipping
  • Monthly Refills
  • No Waiting Rooms, No Appointments
  • Text Messaging Based Consultation *

Receive Expert Quality Care
from your phone or computer,
with UltraPharmRX

  • 100% U.S. Licensed Medical Provider
  • U.S. Licensed Pharmacy
  • Discreet Shipping
  • Monthly Refills
  • No Waiting Rooms, No Appointments
  • Text Messaging Based Consultation *