1 Yes, it really is a thing
According to Addiction Unscripted, sex addiction is a condition that has a proven psychological and neurological basis. ‘It is an addiction or compulsion to certain sexual behaviours that causes the sufferer to transgress their own values and ruin their lives.’ While having a sexual drive is absolutely normal and healthy, in some cases a genetic predisposition, family trauma or a few other factors can negatively affect and warp this desire.
2 Sex can behave like a drug
A study conducted at Cambridge University included a group of people with compulsive sexual behaviour (sex addiction). When shown pornography, the researchers found that the brain activity triggered in the sex addicts is similar to that of a drug addict’s brain when shown images of drugs.
3 It’s thought sex addiction may be chronic
‘Once a mind has become addictive, as far as we know, it is impossible to reverse, though the condition can be managed,’ writes an anonymous sex addict in recovery on AU.
4 It’s highly progressive
Sex addiction, like others, releases a batch of feel-good chemicals such as adrenaline, endorphins and serotonin. ‘A constant overload of these neurochemicals means the user needs the same, or more, the next time.’ Because of this, often the behaviours of the sex addict increasingly get more dangerous and cause more self-harm.
5 Often, sex addiction is actually even about sex
The author notes that while people assume sex addiction is based on libido and lust, that’s not really the case. More often than not, he says, it’s about things such as power, escapism, as a means to regulate feelings or a chemical rush. ‘Sex addiction is usually about seeking to regulate or anesthetize difficult feelings.’
6 There is no one action with which to define a sex addict
Whether the condition manifests in the form of porn, masturbation, group sex, strip clubs, infidelity or web cam sex, in essence they are all manifestations of the same disease, says the author. ‘They all have the phenomenon of planning, acting out, and the inability to control.’
If you’ve ever wondered what sets a sex addict apart from someone who just really, really loves sex, the author sheds some light on that, too. Simply put, it’s the inability to stop.
‘Sex addiction is not one form of behaviour; it is better characterized by an allergy of the mind. The phenomenon of craving and the cycle of shame and acting out. And, most crucially, the inability to control behaviour, to stop when it has started.’
For more information on sex addiction or if you’d like to reach out to someone for help, head to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous South Africa.
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