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Most everyone can agree that sex is a pleasurable experience. Throughout history it has been compared with drugs and alcohol. Did our ancestors hit closer to the mark than they realized with this comparison? According to an article in the New York Times, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders has recently updated what constitutes addiction to include behavioral addictions. Sex addiction is one of these. In recent years, there has been more evidence and acceptance of sex addiction as a very real disease. To understand how this has come to pass, it is necessary to know more about what sex addiction is.
What is Sex Addiction?
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a chronic disease where an individual seeks pleasure or relief from substances or behaviors, and is unable to control their impulses toward it. Essentially, this means that sex addiction is where the desire for sex becomes a need, and begins to negatively affect their life.
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of sex addiction echo the symptoms of various other addictions. These include:
- intense, uncontrollable cravings and desire for sex,
- missing work and shirking responsibilities for sex,
- spending money designated for bills or other expenses on sex,
- thinking about sex constantly,
- engaging in dangerous and detrimental behaviors for sex,
- stealing or borrowing money to pay for sex, and
- feeling depressed and ashamed of your actions, and still going back to sex as a comfort, even though it is the cause of your problems.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, there is a very good chance that you are addicted to sex.
What are the Causes?
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, all addictions seem to be linked to a dysfunction in the brain, related to reward and pleasure. Similar to an addiction to a drug, such as cocaine, once someone gets the rush of pleasure provided by the drug, or sex, they are unable to cease the desire for more. There is also evidence that childhood abuses or traumas may be related, but there is no definitive proof of this. Essentially, there is just not enough known about what causes any behavioral addiction, including sex addiction.
Who Suffers From It?
Like many other addictions, no one is immune to sex addiction. It does not differentiate based on factors like:
- religious beliefs
- level of education
As these factors demonstrate, anyone can fall victim to sex addiction.
How is It Treated?
Sex addiction is treated just like any other addiction. There are rehabs, 12 step groups, and therapy programs all available to help sufferers. There is also some indication that medications used to treat other addictions may be helpful in treating sex addiction. If you or someone you love is dealing with an addiction to sex, get help as soon as possible. There is always hope for recovery.