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Sexual addiction involves persistent and escalating sexual thoughts and behaviors that negatively impact a person’s life. Most sex addicts form no attachment to their sexual partners and struggle to form intimate relationships.

There are several sex addiction symptoms that suggest you may need treatment. If you notice any of these sex addiction warning signs and symptoms, seek out treatment at a facility like The Ranch.

Sex Addiction: An Overview

Sex addiction is sometimes referred to as hypersexuality, sexual dependency and compulsive sexual behavior. Sex addiction symptoms can impact your ability to work, maintain relationships and carry out day-to-day activities. When you suffer from sex addiction, your sexual behavior feels out of control.

The causes of sexual addiction are unclear. But, like with many addictions, mental health issues may be an underlying cause. Sex addiction may be a way of coping with the emotional pain of trauma, for example.

Sex addiction includes an obsession with sex. Persistent sexual thoughts can affect other activities, interactions and relationships. If a person’s sexual urges become uncontrollable, then they may struggle to function in social situations.

As with all addictions, sex addiction symptoms can worsen without treatment. Common treatment options for sex addiction include therapy, counseling, and support groups. By addressing the underlying reasons for sex addiction symptoms and learning coping skills, you can begin the road to recovery.

Diagnosing Sex Addiction

It can be difficult to identify sex addiction since people have naturally differing sex drives. One common mistake is to think that a high sex drive is a sex addiction symptom, but that isn’t necessarily true. A high sex drive can be perfectly healthy and not put a strain on someone’s life. Sex addiction is different. Sex addiction symptoms are much more extreme than a high sex drive.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes sex addiction. It notes the following symptoms for compulsive sexual behavior disorder:

  • Inability to cut back or stop ongoing sexual urges or impulses that cause problems in your life
  • Compulsive sexual behaviors that cause distress in these areas:
    • Personal
    • Social
    • Family
    • Educational
    • Work
  • Continuing to take part in sexual activities even though you don’t get pleasure from them
  • Continuing to take part in sexual compulsions despite a negative impact on your life
  • Disregard of health and hygiene due to compulsive sex activities
  • Failing to control problem sexual urges and behaviors for at least six months

Sex Addiction Symptoms

People with sex addiction may not just be addicted to sex itself. They may be addicted to other types of sexual behavior as well. This is one reason why sex addiction can be hard to spot and define.

Sex Addiction Signs: Activities

There are many behaviors that may be a sign of sex addiction. These include:

  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Compulsive pornography use
  • Multiple one-night stands, affairs or sexual partners
  • Practicing unsafe sex
  • Exhibitionism (Arousal from exposing one’s self to strangers)
  • Voyeurism (Getting sexual pleasure from spying on people unclothed or having sex)
  • Cybersex (Arousal from sending and receiving messages and pictures to others via the internet)
  • Using prostitutes or practicing prostitution

Sex Addiction Signs: Behaviors and Attitudes

It’s not just particular activities that point to sex addiction. There are many aspects of behavior that can be sex addiction symptoms as well. These include:

  • An inability to control sexual urges
  • An inability to respect the sexual boundaries of others
  • Detachment – sexual experiences provide no emotional satisfaction for the addict
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, denial, confusion and despair
  • Lack of impulse control, resulting in extreme or lewd sexual acts
  • Several attempts to stop, reduce or control sexual impulses
  • Obsession about attracting others, starting new romances or having a string of relationships
  • Giving in to sexual urges despite the medical, social or financial consequences
  • Engaging in sexual behaviors for longer than intended
  • Giving up activities related to one’s social life, work and leisure due to sex addiction
  • Excessive time spent trying to obtain sex and having sex
  • Becoming distressed, anxious, restless, abusive and possibly violent if unable to feed the addiction

Sex Addiction Signs: Negative Consequences

Sex addiction signs can also lead to other complications, such as:

  • Family issues, relationship problems and breakups
  • Sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs)
  • Financial issues
  • Legal consequences (from illegal sex acts/behaviors or exhibitionism)

Left untreated, sex addiction can spiral out of control, which can lead to extremely negative consequences. The condition can cause chaos in people’s lives. At The Ranch, we have well-trained staff that understands the needs of people addicted to sex. Here’s how treatment for sex addiction works at our facility.

How Sex Addiction Is Like Drug Addiction

Sex addiction can be just as serious as drug abuse. Situations that fuel substance abuse often also fuel symptoms of sex addiction. Some of these similarities include:

Sex Withdrawal

Sex addiction signs often include withdrawal when you go without compulsively sexual behaviors. Like drug addiction withdrawal, these may include psychiatric symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Cravings
  • Agitation

Research shows sex addicts who stop their compulsive behavior may have cravings for certain foods and cigarettes. Researchers believe this is due to an imbalance of feel-good brain chemicals. Like drug addiction, compulsive sexual behaviors may cause the brain to overproduce feel-good chemicals. Your brain can begin to depend on addictive behaviors to make these chemicals. During recovery, sex withdrawal symptoms may occur as the brain tries to restore balance.

Brain Changes

Addiction is a disease of the brain. It changes the brain and affects behavior. One study had people with sex addictions view sexually explicit content. Researchers found the same brain areas are active in sex addicts as substance abusers when they view drug stimuli. People with different types of compulsions may have similar brain activity.

Mental Health Issues

People who abuse drugs and alcohol often have mental illness. This is called co-occurring disorders. They use substances to help ease the symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. People with sex addiction often also have co-occurring disorders. They take part in compulsive sexual acts for similar reasons.

Self-Destructive Behaviors

A telltale sign of addiction is continuing it despite negative consequences. Addiction can hijack your brain and make you do things you wouldn’t normally do. For the drug addict, life centers on substances. For the sex addict, life centers on compulsive sexual behaviors. Like people with substance abuse, sex addicts compromise work, family and personal lives. You can see how sex addiction is ruining your life, but feel helpless to stop.

What to Expect in Sex Addiction Treatment

The mental health professionals at The Ranch will start by evaluating your physical and emotional health. We’ll also assess whether you’re struggling with any co-occurring disorders. Sex addiction can be as serious as drug abuse and many people with sex addiction have other addictive behaviors. Some people with sex addiction experience obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. When sex addicts are also substance abusers, we can treat both sex addiction and drug addiction at The Ranch.

Sexual health is also an important aspect of treatment. Some sex addicts have direct sexual contact and are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as HIV, chlamydia and genital warts. Treatment options for sexual addiction at The Ranch will include medical support as well as education about sexually transmitted diseases.

A Comprehensive Approach to Sex Addiction Treatment

At The Ranch, we provide a range of treatments that can help you overcome your sex addiction. This includes:

  • Addressing issues such as abuse, neglect, living with a substance abuser and trauma during childhood, as well as inconsistent parental nurturing and support, lack of parental role models and early exposure to sexual material
  • Helping you identify triggers to prevent relapse, developing healthy coping mechanisms and working through feelings of shame and low self-esteem
  • Programs to help repair relationships with your family and partner
  • Group counseling with peers
  • Courses teaching relapse-prevention skills

Take the First Step Toward Healing

Our compassionate therapists can lead you through the darkest days of addiction to a new chance for healing. When you choose The Ranch sex addiction treatment program, you choose the road to healing. Call The Ranch treatment center today at 18448767680.

Krisi Herron

Medically Reviewed by

Krisi Herron, LCDC

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