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Signs of Sex Addiction

Professional Sex Addiction Treatment

DEFINITION AND CHARACTERISTICS OF SEXUAL ADDICTION

Sex addiction is a fully treatable disorder of the brain, and must not be confused with moral deficiency or failure. A test can easily help diagnose the type of sex condition. Sexual addiction disorder is not gender-specific, and can occur in men and women.

Untreated sex addiction is characterised by impaired impulse control, escalations of sexual acts, sexual thoughts, and sexual cravings, and by the addict's inability to stop their behaviour, despite their awareness of negative consequences.

SEXUAL ADDICTION DISORDER CAN BE STOPPED

Sex and pornography addiction disorder can be stopped if treatment from a sex addiction specialist is sought.

Sexual addiction is the most hidden, least understood, and most intrusive of all addictions. Sexual addiction threatens relationships, personal development, sexual health, and sometimes legal prosecution.

It is difficult to know, if sex and pornography addiction is actually increasing, or if sex addiction is more visible, simply because sex addicts have become more comfortable with seeking professional help. In fact, counsellors report a sharp increase in people seeking treatment for sexual addiction in recent years.

MENTAL HEALTH AND SEX ADDICTION DISORDER

Sex addicts depend on sex like a drug to manage their lives. Acting out sex, preoccupying with sex, consuming pornography, masturbation and experiencing sexual arousal and orgasm sharply increases levels of endorphins (promoting a state of feeling great, elated, mildly euphoric), dopamine (promotes feelings of pleasure, motivation, challenge), oxytocin (promotes feelings of love, cosiness, bond), adrenaline (promotes up-surges of alertness, 'aliveness', anxiety, pleasure enhancing), and serotonin (promotes feelings of being emotionally calm/stable).

Due to impaired neurochemical self-regulation, sex addicts depend on triggering increased levels of these brain chemicals, usually via their sexual acting out behaviours, for down-regulating and coping with lowered mood states, distress and emotional pain.

Commonly, sex addicts are not consciously aware of the nature or origin of their mood states, they rather describe their feelings as 'blurr' or 'being in a 'bubble'. Negative mood states can include; boredom, overwhelm, feelings of rejection, criticism, sadness, failure, isolation, fear, anxiety, irritability, agitation, 'falling appart', emptiness, meaninglessness, confusion, anger and frustration.

Physical symptoms, related to sex addiction, such as headaches, blurred vision, feeling bloated, tiredness, muscle pains, and a general sense of malaise are also self-medicated by acting out sex.

Sex addicts self-report an almost immediate sense of improved wellness after acting out sex, and depending on using sex like a drug. Such brain high is soon followed by a low, by regret, dissatisfaction, shame, guilt, self-loathing, more cravings, and a sense of failure and hopelessness and having lost control. To remedy such lows, the addict must act out more sex.

HOW COMMON IS SEX ADDICTION?

Conservative research figures estimate about 6-8% of adult men, and 2–3% of adult women being affected by sexual addiction. Sex addiction may affect over three million people in Australia, and an estimated thirty million people in the USA.

POSSIBLE CAUSES OF SEXUAL ADDICTION

Brain based research focuses on the neurobiology of addiction and suggests that addiction is influenced by two predominant factors; inherited predisposition involving a number of genes, and environmental stimuli.

  • Persons, who are predisposed to genetic dopamine dys-regulation in the reward learning system of their brain, are at risk to experience difficulty with emotion regulation when triggered by stress, overwhelm, or boredom, and may struggle with contentment, wellness, motivation, and finding meaning.
  • Individuals with such predisposition are at an increased risk to addict when participating in conducive environments and activities that make them feel better. e.g. sexual activity, compulsive sexual avoidance, pornography over-consumption, gambling, alcohol, sugar, over-eating, self-starving, drugs, and adrenaline enhancing activities.

There is no biological evidence of abnormal high sex-drives in sexual addicts. In fact, most sex addicts are able to return to fully functional intimacy after successful recovery with sex addiction specialists.

CONTRIBUTORS TO SEX ADDICTION DEVELOPMENT

Addiction can be seen as a substitute for affect dys-regulation, which may have it's origin in early childhood where a child-parent attachment bond had become faulty. An infant’s survival and sound development depends on the quality of their bond with their parent(s), or primary carer(s). An absence, or disruption of such safe and life essential lifeline may consequentially be substituted with other feel good survival mechanisms.

Later, and in adult life, such substituted self-regulation might be achieved with sex, masturbation, orgasm, pornography, and any number of 'feel good' behaviours, substances, and acts.

THE DEVELOPING BRAIN AND SEX ADDICTION

The developing brain of a child is not yet capable to adequately accommodating adult sexual concepts. Full brain development in humans does not reach maturity before the age of around 25 years.

The mature executive part of the brain, the frontal lobe, puts 'brakes' on impulses, estimates situations, and assesses a rational response to emotional situations. These systems are underdeveloped in a child.

Upon a pleasant stimuli, the brain will release dopamine and take a mental note that it felt good, and should be repeated. After a few exposures to the same stimuli, the brain no longer produces the same amounts of dopamine, which results in a natural decline of desire to repeat the same activity.

In contrast, neuroscientists believe that watching pornography produces large amounts of dopamine every time, and this is why overexposure to porn can be addictive and damaging to the brain.

Children's brains, that have been prematurely exposed to pornography, or to other aspects of adult sexuality, are unable to size up the situation correctly, and therefore cannot assess a rational emotional response.

As a result of repeated premature exposure to adult sexual concepts and pornography, children are vulnerable to suffer severe negative consequences in their emotional and psychological development. Common manifestations in adulthood include expressions of inadequate sexual behaviours, and difficulty with empathy, love, and intimate relationships.

The risk of developing sexual addiction is increased in genetically predisposed individuals.

COUNSELLING FOR SEX AND PORN ADDICTION BY OUR SPECIALIST

Sex addiction is a fully treatable disorder. For further information on sex addiction test or for booking a confidential appointment please contact Sex Addiction Australia during AEST office hours, call Heide (+61)  02 9380 4486 or email info@sexaddictionaustralia.com.au

   

Poll: Sexual Behaviours