DEFINITION CHARACTERISTICS DEVELOPMENT AND CONSEQUENCES OF SEXUAL ADDICTION
Sexual addiction is a fully treatable brain disorder of mistaken sexual desire and arousal, and must not be confused with moral deficiency or failure. Sexual addiction does not discriminate, and can affect men and women of any cultural and socio-economic background.
CHARACTERISTICS OF SEX ADDICTION
- Impaired impulse control.
- Escalations of sexual thoughts, sexual desires, sexual preoccupations, sexual acts, pornography.
- Severe sexual cravings when not acting out sex or consuming pornography.
- Inability to give up sexual compulsive behaviours despite sincere attempts to stop, and despite full awareness of negative consequences.
SEXUAL ADDICTION DISORDER CAN BE STOPPED
Sexual and pornography addiction disorder can be stopped if treatment from a sex addiction specialist, or clinical sex therapist and professional counsellor is sought.
Sexual addiction is the most hidden, least understood, and most intrusive of all addictions. Sexual addiction threatens relationships, marriages and families, personal development, sexual health, workplace performance and productivity, and, in severe cases, may lead to legal prosecution.
MENTAL HEALTH AND SEX ADDICTION DISORDER
Sex addicts depend on using sex like a drug to manage their lives. Acting out sex and pornography significantly increases neurotransmitter activity, namely dopamine (feeling motivated), endorphins (promoting a state of feeling great, elated, mildly euphoric), 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 neurobiological self-regulation of underlying emotional distress and trauma, sex addicts ‘self medicate’ on sex as a coping mechanism.
Sex addicts are typically not aware of the causes to their underlying trauma. They describe their mood states as ‘blur’ or ‘fogg’ or ‘being in a ‘bubble’. Addicts often report lacking motivation, crippling boredom or overwhelm, feelings of rejection, not being good enough, sadness, feelings of being a failure, emotional or social isolation, anxiety, agitation, frustration, anger, and meaninglessness.
When not acting out sex, addicts may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, feeling bloated, tiredness, muscle pains, and a general sense of malaise.
Sexual addicts self-report an almost immediate sense of improved physical and emotional wellness after acting out sex. However, sex induced brain highs are short lived and soon followed by low status and moderate to significant mood swings, dissatisfaction, and more cravings. To remedy low mood states and cravings, sex addicts 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.
- Genetically predisposed individuals may be at a greater risk to experience difficulty with emotion regulation when triggered by stress stimuli and struggle with finding emotional balance, release, contentment, motivation, or meaning.
- Individuals, with such predisposition, are at a greater risk to addict when participating in conducive environments and activities that make them feel better; e.g. diverse sexual activities, pornography, romance, attraction, love, gambling, sugar and fat consumption, drugs, alcohol, and diverse adrenaline enhancing activities such as any high-risk-taking behaviours including high finances, risky sports, flamboyancy.
- There is no biological evidence of abnormal high sex-drive in sexual addicts. In fact, most sex addicts are able to return to fully functional intimacy after successful recovery from their sexual addiction with the help of a qualified clinical sex therapist and professional counsellor.
CONTRIBUTORS TO SEX ADDICTION DEVELOPMENT
Addiction can be understood as a substitute for affect and emotion regulation. Emotional dysregulation may begin in early childhood with a development of insecure child-parent attachment bonds. An infant’s survival and sound development depends on secure love and save attachment to their parents or primary carers. Absence, or disruption of secure love and nurture may be substituted with other ‘feel good’ survival mechanisms in later life.
THE DEVELOPING BRAIN AND SEX ADDICTION
The developing brain of a child is not yet capable to adequately accommodate adult sexual concepts. Brain development in humans is said to reach full maturity around the age of 25 years.
The mature executive part of the brain, the frontal lobes, put ‘brakes’ on impulses, estimates situations, and assesses a rational response to emotional stimuli. These systems are underdeveloped in a child.
Children, who are 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 and continued exposure to adult sexual concepts or pornography, children are vulnerable to suffer damaging consequences to their emotional, psychological, and social development. Common manifestations in adulthood are evident in lack of impulse control, expressions of inadequate sexual or social behaviours, low self esteem, difficulty trusting others, over-or-under attachment or avoidance of intimate relationships, love addiction, love avoidance, sex addiction.
COUNSELLING FOR SEX AND PORN ADDICTION BY OUR SEXUAL THERAPIST
Sexual addictions are fully treatable disorders. For further information about our sex addiction treatment program and our sex addiction tests, or for booking a strictly confidential appointment with our Sexual Health Therapist Heide in Sydney & Nationally Online, please contact Heide (+61) 02 9380 4486 or email email@example.com