Reviewed by Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Sex addiction is an extremely controversial term that’s often met with a wide range of confusion and uncertainty -- especially when it comes to the definition of what a sex addict is and what needs to be done about it.
In fact, there’s so much uncertainty around the addiction that it was left out of the fifth edition of “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” also known as DSM-5. Despite its exclusion, it’s still widely talked about, heavily researched, and widely experienced today.
With so much confusion when it comes to sexual addiction and sex addicts, you might be asking yourself:
“So, what is the sex addiction definition?”
Well, we’ve got an answer for you. Sex addiction is best defined as the uncontrollable, compulsive, and reoccurring need to engage in sexual activity at any given moment in time. For some people, this urge comes and goes. For others, it overstays its welcome and becomes an even larger issue.
Many people have compared the urge with sex addiction to the urge with other addictions, such as alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, and drug addiction. People will often do whatever it takes to get that next “fix” before the cycle starts all over again.
Much like other addicts, sex addicts face a wide range of consequences for the actions, thoughts, and behaviors. The more it goes uncontrolled, the more damaging it can become to the individual and those closest to the individual.
At the end of the day, it’s an addiction that needs to be controlled and maintained if the individual wants to live a normal, fulfilling life.
Sex Addiction Symptoms to Watch Out For
One of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself or for a loved one when suffering from sex addiction is knowing the warning signs to keep an eye out for. This allows you to detect the addiction, which is often the first step in seeking the help you need to move past the addiction.
Since there are so many different symptoms of sex addiction, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common ones that you should watch out for:
- Feeling the need to lie about your sexual encounters or to cover your behaviors.
- Uncontrollable sexual actions with multiple individuals, including people you don’t know well or have never met before.
- Constantly being preoccupied with sexual thoughts, sexual behaviors, or sexual actions throughout the day -- no matter the time.
- Obsessive and uncontrollable fantasies about others or sexual fantasies in general.
- Not being able to stop your sexual desires, even when you know it’s the wrong thing to do.
- Engaging in sexual behavior that puts you, someone you know, or a stranger at risk, just to satisfy an urge.
- Contrary to popular belief, feeling any type of chronic guilt or remorse after having sex, yet continuing to do it.
- Promoting sexual actions, sexual behaviors, and sexual thoughts that have any other type of negative impact on your life or the life of someone you know.
When you detect the addiction early, it becomes much easier to find the root of the problem and start to find a customized treatment plan to relieve the addiction. It’s the only way you’ll start to truly realize the impact it’s having on your life and start to make the right changes for the better.
Of course, these ‘sexual acts and behaviors’ don’t just have to refer to sex itself. It could mean masturbation or simply thinking about sex (or masturbation) too often.
How Does Sex Addiction Affect Your Life?
Sex is supposed to be a positive, uplifting, and rewarding experience in life. It’s supposed to bring joy and it’s supposed to bring us closer to those around us. It’s supposed to burn calories, lower blood pressure, strengthen the muscles, make us feel good, and improve heart health.
Without it, we would be ridding ourselves of one of nature’s most amazing processes and wouldn’t be allowing ourselves to be a true member of society.
Unfortunately, some people take it a step too far -- without even meaning to! Some people become addicted to this natural act and become dependent upon it. It starts to control their daily thoughts, actions, and behaviors, causing them to make questionable decisions over the short-term and long-term.
Due to how serious sex addiction can be, it’s important to understand what’s at stake when dealing with and getting over a sexual addiction -- just like any other addiction. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the ways sex addicts see their addiction negatively affect their life:
- Sex addiction puts you at a greater risk of getting an STD, especially when having sex with people you don’t know.
- Sex addiction generally leads to poor decisions when having sex, such as not using a condom when you should or having sex in an inappropriate place.
- Being addicted to sex takes your focus out of life and centers it on one thing. Eventually, it’ll start to affect your personal relationships and work performance.
- Sex addiction puts you at a greater risk of being caught by the police having sex with someone or somewhere you shouldn’t be having sex.
- Sex addiction often leads to loneliness, depression, feeling of guilt or not being worthy, low self-esteem, and a wide variety of other mental illnesses.
- Those addicted to sex often have difficulty forming close relationships with new people and have a fear of being judged when meeting new people.
- Sex addiction can cause partners to split and your financials to deplete when satisfying your urges or trying to find ways of dealing with the urges.
- Many people are addicted to sex but don’t have the proper help to overcome this. As much as these people want to get better, they have no idea how and are stuck in a never-ending cycle.
Sex addiction isn’t good for anyone involved. It’s not a pleasant experience for the individual and often leads to a life no one asked for. It’s also not pleasant to anyone around the individual because they have to see how negatively it affects their life -- as well as watch them do nothing about it.
To ensure sex addiction doesn’t get any worse than it should, you should always know how your sexual thoughts, actions, and behaviors are affecting your own life, how it’s affecting other people’s lives, and whether or not you could be doing anything better today to steer free of any complications in life.
Is Sex Addiction a Disease?
While many people try to say sexual addictions aren’t a real disease and shouldn’t be treated as such, those people don’t understand how the brain works. They also don’t understand the true definition of a disease.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a disease is “a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.” With that being said, sexual addiction is certainly a condition that impairs normal function.
More specifically, sex addiction is treated as a mental illness. In many studies that compared the brain activity of a drug addict, sex addict, and gambling addict, the sex addict finished with similar results to the other addicts. These changes in brain activity are a big reason why people find it so difficult to get over this illness.
While there’s no cure for sex addiction, there are ways to manage the illness and hopefully, one day find the peace and fulfillment you’ve been searching for -- without needing to give-in to your frequent urges to have sex.
How Can You Receive Sex Addiction Help Today?
Sexual addiction is something many people are struggling with in today’s society. Nearly 3% of people have major cases of sex addict symptoms, while nearly 20% of all people have minor cases of it -- though statistics are a little difficult to gather due to a lack of studies.
The point is if you think you’re alone in your battle with being addicted to sex, you’re not. There are millions of people out there fighting the same fight and a majority of them likely won’t even know they’re suffering from it. The key is to make an honest effort at getting better before it starts to take a true toll on your life.
The good news is Mind Diagnostics has a tool that can help you determine whether or not you might be a sex addict. It’s an online sexual addiction test and it’s designed to help detect addictions in people just like you and me!
Don’t worry, we don’t stop there. We understand how beneficial a therapist could be to someone’s battle with sex addiction and we stay dedicated to helping you find the right professional help to get you better as soon as possible.
Everyone deserves a chance at happiness, and we’ll do what we can to make that a reality for you and your family!
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