Hypersesexual disorder, also known as sex addiction, is a progressive intimacy disorder where one is unable to manage his or her sexual behavior. It is characterized by compulsive and escalating sexual thoughts and acts. As with other addictions, hypersexual disorder has a negative impact on the life of the individual, spouse, and other family members, which may keep getting worse as the addiction increases. Overtime, the addict has to intensify their addictive behavior in order to achieve the same effect.
When one uses sexual behavior like a substance to fix, numb, or alter a mood, it becomes addictive. It is characterized by shameful, sexual behaviors that are obsessive. There are different forms of sexualized behavior, including the use pornographic materials (videos, magazines, the Internet) and masturbation. Addiction can also include exhibitionism, or exposing oneself; and voyeurism, or looking at people trying to spot something sexual. Visiting strip clubs, porn stores, lap dances and cruising is also addictive, and the list is endless.
A common misconception is that people with strong libido or multiple sexual partners have a sex addiction, which is not true. In reality, sex addicts typically crave the pursuit of sex and gain little pleasure from the sexual act itself. Additionally, one can stop engaging in behavior that is destructive to their relationship, health, career, or finances, but a sex addict feels unable to stop seeking out sexual gratification in spite of the consequences.
Like drugs, sexual behaviors trigger chemical changes in the brain. With prolonged obsessive sexual behavior, the brain begins to adapt to the flow of neurotransmitters, craving more frequent and more intense stimuli to keep feeling the initial rush. The result is tolerance, physical dependence, and withdrawal.
Sexual addiction is characterized by unconscious or ritualized behaviors that precede the actual act. For a pornography addict, it may start with searching the Internet, while for another, it starts with withdrawing money and driving to visit a prostitute, which is then followed by guilt and shame, and this creates a cycle.
Some of the symptoms of sex addiction include:
Often, the addict is not aware of the first steps towards their behavior, and find themselves saying something like “I can’t believe I did it again. I don’t even know how that happened.” They describe their addiction as though they have little to do with it and it happened to them. Recovery from hypersexual disorder involves helping the person break out of the ‘trance’ so they can realize the many steps that led them to the act.
Compulsive sexual behavior is a devastating and destructive problem, yet the guilt, fear, and shame of being stigmatized by society often stops individuals with a sexual addiction from taking the necessary steps to get the help they deserve.
At Canadian Addiction Rehab, we have the right environment and expertise to help you get over sexual addiction. The idea is to extract you from your familiar environment, habits, and triggers for ‘acting out’ and get you into a therapeutic setting that enables you to develop healthy sexuality, manage stress, commit to abstinence, and rebuild relationships.
We will guide and support you into recovery.