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Some things are started by many as normal usage, and then comes as a compulsion and it will consume your life by creating a desire on occupying more of your life, and this is how addiction is formed. Many get addicted to common substances like alcohol, nicotine, and various drugs. You can treat them with common treatments like going cold turkey with some support systems to keep you from getting worse. But what will happen if your addiction is for essential basic biology? It is none other than sex addiction and it is considered common among many.

It is not new and everyone is familiar with sex drive also called Libido and its compulsion. This includes the combination of social, psychological, and biological factors along with the combining of hormones like estrogen, or testosterone, dopamine, and neurotransmitters. Different people have different production of hormones and some seem to have high driving of sex.

Apart from a high sex drive what is actually sex addiction?

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Some scientist states on whether the compulsive seeking of sex actually qualifies as addiction and this not yet diagnosed clinically. A surprising number of people are observed to be facing troubles to control their intense sexual desires that may lead to self-destruction. And according to the International classification of diseases, it was officially titled as the ‘compulsive sexual behavior’ as their own category. The number of people battling sex addiction is depended on the way you define it.

If everyone dealing with sex-related issues is considered then the number can be high as 16%. But if you look into symptoms that are severe and if you pinpoint the definition of addiction to sex, then it is closer to or between 3 to 6 percent. But still, there are people who have not named their condition. Men are mostly identified to be almost twice as likely to develop the addiction as women.

Causes of sex addiction

Is the cause of sex addiction purely a psychological condition or has something deeper?

Psychologists have observed that people who have symptoms of sex addiction are often people who have started their sex lives at an early age or people who have experienced serious trauma as a child. Many believe that it is an unhealthy mechanism of coping for people who have never got an opportunity to develop their sex drive at an older age and get to the root of trauma and address it as the best treatment approach.

There are arguments that it may be a symptom of borderline personality disorder and many people with a tendency towards promiscuity are diagnosed with it. Others say it may be because of an imbalance in the hormones and neurotransmitters that causes the addiction.

The ones who take medications affecting their dopamine production is been observed to develop a syndrome, which can result in compulsive activities of sex and gambling. More than talking to people experiencing it, the research can be done using rats, as the compulsive sexual behavior isn’t only for humans, as you can see a bunch of wild rabbits.

The scientist who studies the rat has observed the compulsive sexual behavior to be driven by the similar mechanisms in the brain affecting drug addiction and this is said to be the clearest proof to say that sex addiction is genuine while also complicated as a fact that it is not an outside stimulant, and it’s a natural instinct which acts as positive reinforcement. This is naturally perceived as a reward by the brain and it triggers the instinct to seek and accordingly the brain responds.

Problems faced by the sufferers

The biggest challenge facing researchers is finding the line between the natural desire for the activity of sex and the emergence of addiction.

Where does actually the line between desire and addiction?

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When the sufferers of sex come forward, there is an emerging portrait of people, whose desire for sex takes over every single part of their life. Most of these sex addicts have no symptoms related to their physical body so that there is no withdrawal period due to the lack of addiction related to chemicals. These symptoms will mostly be emotional and their fixation on sex makes them unable to concentrate on anything else.

When they go to work, college, when they are studying or driving, and even when they go to sleep they think about sex. Such people will feel empty when they don’t have sex which will result in them seeking out or stay in relationships where it would be far from being healthy. And it is considered to be tricky when people are being in a relationship due to their sex addiction.

For a sex addict to have a healthy relationship will be to find someone else with a very high sex drive, who would keep the other satisfied. But this is only to treat the symptom and addition will not be treated through this.

Sex addiction is a beast that cannot be satisfied. It is very easy for the relationship to go off rails as soon as they get separated. It influences the person to slip into bad habits like having an affair or seeking a sex worker when the addict’s first choice for sex isn’t around. This could not only destroy relationships but also will leave them and their partner vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases.

The people who are addicted will come forward with addictions to different types of sex, where some even are driven by the digital world we live in. Some people get addicted to masturbation as they become obsessed with pleasuring themselves in inappropriate situations. For example, a prominent journalist got caught masturbating on a zoom chat where when asked he claimed that he thought that the video was off but this answer did not save his job.

While others are addicted to pornography which makes them easier and does not carry the risk of a different kind of viruses. Others are compelled to expose themselves in public or spy and such acts can lead to serious legal trouble.

These are related to sex addiction and people can have one or more that can often mingle with other addictions. As this addiction is becoming more recognized as a disorder, the sex addicts are coming forward with their stories on how far they would go to satisfy their urges and desires.

Most of them are starting to dig out from all relationships, professions, and legal trouble, and started sharing their stories in forums that are anonymous. A person was so obsessed with sex and he uses to patronize online hook-up sites for anonymous sex, where this became so strong that made him skip out his job in the middle to meet up with his partners. And he got caught on missing an important meeting and a quick dismissal from his job was followed.

Some use their sex addiction to cover up their other stresses in life. A successful businessman and his marriage were in trouble when he was compelled by his addiction to hiring prostitutes. His wife figured out that a lot of money was going missing and she demanded him to stop. Although he promised he would, he didn’t instead he started opening new accounts and hid his money, and got into the deeper world of sex.

This is the start of the trouble of sex addicts where it makes them find themselves without treatment. The behaviors of addiction go together and people who are liable to get influenced by one are vulnerable to others.

A woman had a good and stable relationship with her husband, but one day, the husband wanted their sex life to involve drugs. She agreed first and noticed that his usage of drugs grew out of control and was about to put both of them in danger. She pulled away but her husband got deeper and deeper into his addiction and hid his addiction from her.

Another man used to drink heavily as part of his social life and he would ask random girls for selfies and use them for his personal connection for pleasuring himself.  A massive collection was built by him and he didn’t realize how extreme he was going out of control until his daughter was horrified by discovering his secret collection.

Some even for extreme and get arrested for the seeking of sex workers or having public sex. Others contract diseases that are transmitted sexually and then they spread it quickly as they move through sex partners.

Sex addiction Therapy

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But unlike the past days, now there’s more help you can get.

Many sex addicts seek counseling but that field is still split on whether sex addiction is a real diagnosis.

The relationship therapy and the official regulatory bodies for sex have not accepted sex addiction as its own disorder and so the counseling job for those with sex addiction falls to the experts known as an addiction specialist. These counselors may not have much experience with sex addiction but they have counseled people on how to handle addictions that consume their lives.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is common for treating other addictions and is used now to help sex addicts to learn coping methods and behaviors to control their desires and urges and keep them from their disruptive lives.

But the main key element missing from treatment support. The alcoholic anonymous was found in 1935 and the anonymous groups where addicts shared their stories and offered support to those who were struggling have been a keystone of counseling addiction.

These programs expanded to groups for supporting those struggling with addictions for gambling, narcotics, overeating as well as there were groups for family members to support their loved ones with addiction.

Multiple groups are now dedicated to helping sex addicts through online forums like NoFap and several other personal support groups. But there is a problem where not all of them agree on the best approach.

This sex addiction is newly diagnosed as a disorder and there have been relatively little researchers done and compared to other addictions. Different groups interpret the best way to help the addicts differently. There is a famous group called the sexaholics anonymous, which has a strict definition of sex addiction that helps those who want to go on casual sex, pornography, and masturbation.

More flexible definitions are possessed by groups like sex addicts anonymous and SMART recovery and help their members to find balance and get their addiction under control. People who don’t have any of these groups in their area can attend alcoholics anonymous meetings without sharing their problems and applying the steps of recovery to their own addiction. 

It can be a long process to getting a major compulsion to a manageable level. And so many counselors are taking other steps to protect the patients when they recover. Because many addicts will engage in sex that is risky with people they don’t know and some will even try to take pre-exposure prophylaxis during their early stage of recovery. This drug is covered by many insurance plans as a preventive measure to prevent HIV infections. This favors people who are not ready to go on their sex habits instead wanted to avoid those infections while they get to recover.

There is a question on whether society is ready to address the topic of sex addiction like other addictions. There are mixed indications.

The term sex addiction came in the 1970s when members of alcoholics anonymous tried applying their 12 step program to those people who are struggling with compulsive infidelity, but many still debate the classification of the disorder.

Some are worried about the classification risk of sexual activity as a disorder, which could be used to condemn people with a healthy and active drive of sex. Some argue that it is not an addiction but a form of compulsive behavior and it should be treated differently. Among these controversies, the disorder became well known and movies like shame, Don Jon, and diary of a sex addict helped to raise awareness and gave those people who were troubled by the disorder compassion.

The support groups are growing and those who are seeking sex addiction are finding people who have battled the disorder to get motivated and start their own fight.

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