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Common Symptoms

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Sexual addiction generally refers to an obsession or extreme preoccupation with sex. This can often manifest itself outwardly (in multiple sexual encounters or repetitive masturbation) or inwardly (in the form of obsession and pornography addiction), or a combination of the two. Individuals struggling with sexual addiction and/or pornography addiction usually exhibit certain symptoms, including:

  • Risky sex with multiple partners
  • Unprotected sex
  • Unemotional sexual interactions
  • Unsatisfied sex drive despite multiple sexual encounters
  • Preoccupation with pornography
  • Excessive guilt
  • Lack of inner peace
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Risk-taking behavior, often leading to unlawful acts
  • Compulsive behavior, even when the addict no longer wants that behavior to be a part of his/her life

Because sexual addiction, like any other addiction, takes control of the addict's life, the ripples from this addiction are often far-reaching. The object of this addiction becomes more important than the addict's family, friends, career, health, safety, and dreams, and they all suffer because of it.

Treatment Strategies

Sexual addiction is not treated in a fundamentally different fashion than other addictions. The first step is generally educating those involved and his/her loved ones about sexual addiction. Once they can recognize it and understand that it is in fact an addiction, proactive treatment can begin.

Did You Know

Dr. Patrick Carnes found in his research that 56% of his respondents experienced severe financial difficulty because of their sexual addiction.

Source: Carnes, Patrick. Don't Call It Love. Bantam Books. New York, NY. 1991.

Treatments often include therapy, both individual and group therapy. Many of the group therapies available are based on the alcohol addiction self-help 12-step principles. The therapy aims to educate the addict about the causes, triggers, and emotions tied to the addiction, as well as the characteristics of a healthy sexual relationship. Once the addict identifies his/her responses to triggers, he/she can begin to consciously construct appropriate responses and thoughts.

There seems to be an obsessive-compulsive element to sexual addiction in which the sufferer cannot seem to control his/her impulses. This may be treated with medications in some instances.

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