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Sexual Addiction Is Not About Sex

Sex addiction is not about certain practices or preferences that some people may consider to be extreme or immoral. In some ways, sex addiction is not about sex at all. Instead, it is about thoughts and compulsions that have gotten out of a person’s control. This addiction is about behavior that people are unable to change, even when it is interfering with other activities, endangering their health, putting them at risk of legal problems and possibly even putting their lives at risk.

It is important to separate sexual addiction from any particular kind of sexual activity. This prevents people with certain sexual preferences from being unfairly stigmatized, but also helps to spread understanding that even “normal” sexual behavior can become compulsive and out of control.

Sexual Addiction Treatment Aims for a Return to Healthy Sexual Activity

Recovery from many forms of addiction often means total abstinence from the substance or behavior to which a person was addicted. However, since sex is such an important part of life for most people and an important part of most healthy relationships, sexual addiction recovery usually involves helping people to regain control over their sexuality and sexual activity.

Once again, we see that sex addiction is not so much about sex itself as it is about compulsion and reliance on sexual behaviors to alleviate negative emotions. While many people with addictions will need to avoid the object of their addiction for the rest of their lives, people recovering from sex addiction can often resume healthy sex lives after treatment.

A High Sex Drive Does Not Equal a Sexual Addiction

Sex addiction is also not about having a very high sex drive. Many people have high sex drives and enjoy engaging in very frequent sexual activity but do not suffer from any kind of disorder. When people develop a sex addiction, they often stop deriving any enjoyment or pleasurable feelings from sex. Instead, they engage in compulsive sexual activity in order to avoid negative feelings.

In this respect, sex addiction is very similar to drug addiction. Drug addiction causes significant changes in the reward center of the brain, which causes it to become accustomed to extremely high levels of dopamine. Drug users who become addicted need to continue using the drug in order to feel normal and no longer seek a pleasurable high.

Some people may use the terms hypersexual or hypersexuality in order to refer to people with very active sex drives. However, most clinical sources use the term hypersexuality as one of several names that are synonymous with sex addiction. Other synonymous names are nymphomania (when referring to women), satyriasis (when referring to men), hypersexual disorder or compulsive sexual behavior.

Certain Illnesses Can Cause Overactive Sex Drive

Although a high sex drive is not itself a disorder or even necessarily a risk factor for a disorder, in some cases a drastic increase in sex drive can be a symptom of some other illness. The manic phase of bipolar disorder, dementia, rabies, Kluver-Bucy Syndrome and persistent genital arousal disorder can all cause sex drives to become unusually high or overactive. An increase in sex drive can be a warning symptom of illness, although most of these illnesses involve other characteristic symptoms that are likely to be quite pronounced by the time the sex drive is affected.

There is still hope.

Our licensed addiction experts can help. Call us today for a confidential assessment.

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