Sex addiction, also called ‘The Silent Epidemic', is a fully treatable disorder of the brain and must not be confused with moral deficiency or failure. Sexual addiction disorder is not gender specific and can occur in men and women. Sexual addiction is often described as Progressive Intimacy Disorder, where the addict uses sex compulsively with no, or diminished emotional attachments.
Conservative research estimates 5% of men and 3% of women suffer from various forms of sexual addiction! The numbers are likely to be much higher, as many sex-addicts may not seek treatment to the detriment of their physical and mental health.
The negative consequences of sexual addiction are cutting deep into our social order, and take a heavy toll on relationships, marriages, families, and personal, professional, and financial lives.
Sexual addiction has multiple causes, including; genetic, biological, neurological, social, and environmental risk factors.
Sex addiction presents with multiple manifestations; and most commonly as; pornography addiction, masturbation addiction, prostitution addiction, Internet chat-room addiction, phone sex addiction, multiple affairs addiction, love addiction, and sexual anorexia.
Other forms of sexual addiction include frotteurism, voyeurism, and exhibitionism.
Untreated sex addiction is characterised by escalations of sexual acts, sexual thoughts, and sexual cravings, and by the addict's loss of control over their ability to permanently stopping or cutting down on their sexual acting-out behaviours, despite their awareness of the negative consequences their behaviour may cause to themselves and others.
Sex addiction disorder interferes with relationships, marriage and family systems, work-place function, communities, and sometimes the legal system.
Sex addicts depend on sex to manage their lives, with relying on intense short-term brain rewards derived from sex. As a result of acting out sex, the addict feels almost instantaneously better, and able to meet daily demands. But such brain high, derived from sex and orgasm, is soon followed by a familiar low, and a sense of having lost control.
PREDISPOSITION AND ENVIRONMENT
Brain based research focuses on the neurobiology of addiction, and suggests that addiction, including sexual addiction, is driven by a stress-induced defect acting on a genetic vulnerability in the reward-learning system of the mid-brain, and affecting the memory-choice system in the prefrontal cortex. Such neurobiological predisposition increases the risk to addict, in combination with a conducive environment.
There is no biological evidence of an abnormally high sex-drive in sexual addicts. In fact, most sex addicts are able to return to fully functional intimacy after successful recovery counselling treatments from a specialised sex addiction therapist.
Sex addiction has a specific definition: 'The inability to stop your sexual thoughts and acting out when you want to, despite your awareness of the adverse consequences of your behaviour. It disrupts your life with you spending inordinate amounts of time satisfying your cravings.' (Source Patrick Carnes, PhD)
It is important to realise that sex addiction is NOT a moral failure, but can be defined as a stress-induced defect acting on a genetic vulnerability in the reward-learning (dopamine) system of the mid-brain and the memory-choice (glutamate) system in the prefrontal cortex, leading to a loss of control and persistent cravings despite an awareness of the negative consequences. (Source Kevin McCauly MD, Institute for Addiction Study, Salt Lake City, Utah)
The American Society of Addiction Medicine has released a new definition of addiction. A press release statement of August 15th, 2011 includes: 'Addiction is a chronic brain disorder, and not simply a behavioural problem involving too much alcohol, gambling, drugs, or SEX'.
A sex therapist is a specialist counsellor for the treatments of sex addictions, hypersexuality disorder, affairs and infidelity, sexual compulsions, and sexual dysfunctions including; erectile and ejaculation difficulties, low libido, orgasm difficulty, and painful sex.
Sexual problems are common and can occur to anyone, and at any time in life. Experiencing sexual distress does not mean you are at fault, or that your relationship, or your marriage have failed.
Sex addiction is a treatable disorder which requires professional counselling intervention by specialist sex addiction therapists.
Clinical experience confirms that counselling from a sex therapist facilitates in addicts fully recover and return to living normal sexual lifestyles, disregarding their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or social and marital status.
Sex Therapists take a non-judgemental holistic approach to treatment and recovery.
Please note: Sex therapy and sex addiction therapist and counselling services do NOT include the prescription or dispensing of drugs, physical examination, or physical touch.
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The information provided in this article is intended for general use and for personal interest only. It should not be used or understood as suggestion or medical advice.