In the movie Blades Of Glory, the character Chazz Michael Michaels, played by actor Will Ferrel, was a self-confessed sex addict. For those who do not believe in the possibility of people being addicted to sex, Will Ferrel’s character would surely be just fictional. However, one episode of The Tyra Banks Show also discussed sexual addiction and even had guests who openly admitted to being sex-addicts. What was more surprising is the fact that one of their guests is only 14 years old and she confessed to being a sex addict since she was 12. Though hard to believe, it is actually true that some people get addicted to sex. How or why this happens will be discussed later on in this article. A person, especially those who engage in frequent sex, might wonder how he or she can determine if his or her behavior is already considered an addiction or not. Characteristics that differentiate sex addicts from those who are just sexually active are also included in this article. Sexual addiction is considered a mental health problem and is very similar to other forms of addiction such as those with alcoholics and drug addicts. Like most health problems too, sexual addiction can be managed or treatment using a method very similar to that used among alcoholics.
Addiction is usually said to be associated, if not a result of, stress and anxiety disorders. A tragic or traumatic event may cause a person to feel self-hatred, extreme anger, loneliness, and depression. In search for an event or situation to change these negative feelings, they seek for things that would can give them pleasure. Substances such as alcohol, amphetamines, and cocaine have a component within them that causes a person to release more dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter responsible for the good or pleasurable feelings that most people experience. Engaging in some activities such as sex and having an orgasm trigger the same reaction within the brain. Because of the satisfaction, relief or escape that these substances and activities provide to a person who is already psychologically troubled, he or she will seek to experience the euphoria some more. As a result, an addiction develops as well as feelings of obsession and compulsion.
Engaging in sexual or romantic activities is considered natural among humans. The moderation or frequency among each individual, however, varies. Some people do these activities more frequently compared to others but that does not necessarily make them sex addicts.
Some of the characteristics that should be observed in a person to consider him or her as a possible sexual addict are listed below:
lHe or she must have a pattern of failing in resisting his or her impulse to engage in specific sexual behaviors;
lHe or she must frequently engage in those sexual behaviors to a greater extent or longer period than what he or she is intended;
lHe or she might experience a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to stop, reduce, or control those sexual behaviors;
lHe or she spends an inappropriately large amount of time or resources spent in obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual experience;
lHe or she has a certain preoccupation with certain sexual behaviors or preparatory activities;
lHe or she still frequently engages in sexual behaviors even when expected to fulfill occupational, academic, domestic, or social obligations;
lHe or she still continues to do the sexual behaviors or activities despite knowing that he or she will have a persistent or recurring social, financial, psychological, or physical problem that is caused or made worse by the behavior; and
lHe or she feels distressed, anxious, restless, or irritated if he or she is unable to engage in sexual behaviors or activities.
There are also different levels of sexual addiction. Level one is being engaged in compulsive sexual activities or thoughts only. Level two already includes acts of voyeurism, exhibitionism, and rubbing against people in public places. Level three is when a person already commits much more serious and intrusive sexual offenses that have more harmful consequences.
Sexual addiction, like most other addictions, have several negative consequences. Someone who engages in sexual activities frequently with other people has a greater tendency to acquire infections such as AIDS for example. A female sex addict also has a higher chance of getting pregnant. Sex addicts usually have financial problems because of their uncontrolled expenditure to satisfy their addiction. They will also have social problems such as difficulty relating to their family and their friends primarily because they already have a sense of shame being aware of their problem and the inability to control it.
Professional help is very much needed in order for a person to recover from this kind of addiction. Therapy sessions with professionals may either be done individually or in a group. Several organizations such as Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous already provide programs and support groups to help a person who has an addiction to change and get better in avoiding the compulsion. Some medications can also be used to treat not necessarily a person’s sexual addiction but his or her co-occurring psychological problems.