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Sex addictions are relatively common disorders. Many of these individuals fall into multiple addiction categories, but, there is a lack of evidence-based screening measures to identify them.
Unless self declared or discovered through other treatment measures, an unaddressed sex addiction may be the reason for relapse to other substances or atypical sexual behaviors.
What is Sex Addiction?
Most people with atypical sexual disorders are not considered mentally ill. Their addiction may be referred to as sexual dependence, hypersexuality, nymphomania, compulsive sexual disorder, or out-of-control sexual disorder. They are described as having unusual, intense, recurrent sexual arousing fantasies, urges, or behaviors that persist for six months or more.
There are distinct differences in those that have a paraphilic disorder that is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental illness and those with atypical sexual interests. According to the DSM-5, the characteristics of paraphilic disorder “requires that people with these interests:
- feel personal distress about their interest, not merely distress resulting from society’s disapproval; or
- have a sexual desire or behavior that involves another person’s psychological distress, injury, or death, or a desire for sexual behaviors involving unwilling persons or persons unable to give legal consent. “
Treatments for these disorders are much more complex than the many treatment methods available for common sexual addictions.
About Sex Addiction Treatment
Sex addiction treatment must address the package of addictions that commonly include co-existing alcoholism or drug addictions. Many people with sexual addictions have cocaine or methamphetamine addictions that perpetuate the sexual addictions and lead to a variety of health risks.
As with any addiction, consequential harms can have personal and social consequences that require therapy for both the physical and mental health aspects as well as other psychosocial interventions to address those issues unique to the individual.
Methods of Treatment
Sex addiction treatment methods may include:
- Individual and group therapies
- Cognitive behavioral therapy to identify triggers and help the person to avoid and cope with situations where they may be likely to become involved in sexual behaviors or use substances.
- Motivational interviewing therapy to capitalize on the person’s willingness to change their behaviors.
- Dialectical behavioral therapy to manage cravings by learning the appropriate coping skills to apply for cognitive and emotional regulations.
- Relapse prevention
- Family therapy to resolve marital or other conflicts
- Self care education and strategies for nutrition, exercise, and overall well being
- Treatment for co-existing physical and mental health disorders
- Pharmacological treatments such as anti-anxiety medications, mood stabilizers, or anti-psychotics.
- Referrals to 12-Step support groups such as Sexaholics Anonymous, Sex Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex Compulsives Anonymous and Sex Love Addicts Anonymous