In addition to damaging the addict's relationships and interfering with his or her work and social life, a sexual addiction also puts the person at risk of emotional and physical injury.
Compulsive sexual behaviour symptoms vary in type and severity. Some indications that you may be struggling with compulsive sexual behaviour include:
- Your sexual impulses are intense and feel as if they're beyond your control
- Even though you feel driven to do certain sexual behaviours, you may or may not find the activity a source of pleasure or satisfaction
- You use compulsive sexual behaviour as an escape from other problems, such as loneliness, depression, anxiety or stress
- You continue to engage in sexual behaviours that have serious consequences, such as the potential for getting or giving someone else a sexually transmitted infection, the loss of important relationships, trouble at work, or legal problems
- You have trouble establishing and maintaining emotional closeness, even if you're married or in a committed relationship
In general, people with a sex addiction gain little satisfaction from the sexual activity and form no emotional bond with their sex partners. In addition, the problem of sex addiction often leads to feelings of guilt and shame.
As with other dependencies, sexual addiction is a condition that involves the sufferer becoming excessively preoccupied with thoughts or behaviours that give a desired effect. It involves spending an exorbitant amount of time thinking about and/or engaging in sexually addictive behaviours.
Behaviour associated with sexual addiction includes:
- Compulsive masturbation (self-stimulation)
- Multiple affairs (extra-marital affairs)
- Multiple or anonymous sexual partners and/or one-night stands
- Consistent use of pornography
- Phone or computer sex (cybersex)
- Prostitution or use of prostitutes
- Obsessive dating through personal ads
- Voyeurism (watching others) and/or stalking
- Sexual harassment
It should be noted that sex addicts do not necessarily become sex offenders.
As with many other conditions and diseases, vulnerability to addiction differs from person to person. Your genes, mental health, family and social environment can all play a role in addiction. Risk factors that increase your vulnerability include:
- Family history of addiction
- Abuse, neglect, or other traumatic experiences in childhood
- Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety
Compulsive sexual behaviour may occur in people who have:
- Alcohol or drug abuse problems
- Another mental health condition, such as a mood disorder (depression or bipolar disorder), or a gambling addiction
- A history of physical or sexual abuse
Many patients require individual sessions with an addiction specialist. Dr de Silva would conduct a comprehensive assessment and explain her conclusions to you .She would discuss the treatment options taking into consideration your views and what she considers the optimum treatment for you. Treatment would generally include medication, or individual therapy or both. Dr de Silva can also make a referral to a psychologist or psychotherapist to look the psychological aspects of the addiction as well as trying to address the underlying causes. You would be reviewed regularly by Dr de Silva to monitor your progress.
If you require more intense treatment and to be away from the familiar environment, which may be contributing to the addiction, Dr de Silva can arrange for admission to treatment centre where you would stay for the duration of their treatment. Treatment at one of the centres would usually include medication management, individual psychological sessions as well as group psychological work. There is often specific focus on understanding the nature of addiction and relapse prevention. If an admission to a treatment centre is recommended Dr de Silva would be able to help identify the most appropriate treatment centre for you.
Many people think of addictions as purely alcohol or illegal drug addiction, however there are many other forms including: