Sex is the number one need when it comes to the survival of our species. It is the reason why we have had the chance to move through various civilizations and revolutions. As a human need, we are programmed to want to engage in coitus at some point.
Not only is sex useful for reproduction, but it is also an intimate act that is pleasurable and makes us feel loved. These pluses draw us to the sexual act even more.
However, there is a point where we draw a line between the evolutionary need to have sex and sex addiction. Sadly, this line is still unclear as the DSM-V (a guide used to make psychology-related diagnoses) does not have criteria that can be used to diagnose sex addiction.
As a result, the existence of sex addiction used to be questioned but now, with a boom in research and widespread information, most seem to understand that sex addiction has negative implications on one’s general life and intimate relationships.
This then sparks the question, “How to overcome sex addiction?” Well, I did some research so that you do not have to.
Can Sex Be Addictive?
Too much of a good thing can be a problem. This statement is applicable to sex as well. Having a high sex drive does not necessarily mean that one has a sex addiction.
However, once the desire to have sex starts to get in the way of one’s life resulting in them overlooking or ignoring their other responsibilities and needs, that need for sex starts to go over the line that separates normal sex behavior from sex addiction.
For most people, sex is associated with other emotions such as love and intimacy. However, for people with sex addiction, it is a different story. They only chase after the act of intercourse and not the emotions.
Although sex addiction is not explicitly specified in the DSM-V, the “International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems” (ICD-10) provides criteria for “Other sexual dysfunction not due to a substance or known physiological condition,” and guess what? Sex addiction falls within that given criteria!
Sex addicts crave sex the same way drug or alcohol addicts crave these substances. The neurological bases of addiction are the same across all forms of addiction.
People with sex addiction will do the best they can to ensure that they fulfill their sexual needs. This might involve having multiple sex partners, ignoring obligations to cater to sexual needs, and being unable to control the behavior despite experiencing negative consequences.
Sex addiction does not always manifest as engaging in over-the-top sexual intercourse. It can also be evident by habitual masturbation, watching pornographic material, or pursuing being in sexually stimulating situations.
Do You Suffer From Sex Addiction?
People with a high sex drive might often find themselves wondering if they suffer from sex addiction because their sex drive might be different from that of their partners. These thoughts might be consuming and disturbing. They need to be cleared.
As mentioned earlier, sex is a natural part of human life. However, when your need for sex becomes a main driving force in your existence, and you become largely preoccupied with sex, you might be addicted.
As the DSM-5 does not specify the criteria for sex addiction, there are considerable disagreements regarding the existence and the sex addiction signs.
The sex addiction definition is not clear. However, psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen and other behavioral experts outlined these pointers that can determine if one has a sex addiction.
- Sex gets in the way of their everyday life
- Consuming and compulsive sexual thoughts and fantasies
- They lose the ability to control it
- They have sex compulsively
- They are dependent on sex
- All aspects of their lives (e.g., happiness and self-worth) get tied up with sex
- They have empty and dysfunctional relationships that revolve around sex
- They lie to cover up their sexual behaviors
- Feeling remorse or guilty after sex
Once one meets this sex addiction criterion, this addiction can manifest in:
- Sex with multiple strangers
- Inability to stay faithful
- Paying for sex
- Sexual paraphilias
- Obsessive fetishes
- Extreme and dangerous forms of sex
If you or a loved one experiences any of these signs or manifestations of sex addiction, you might want to consider seeing a therapist or a psychologist so that they can determine the cause of these behaviors and what can be done to deal with them.
How to Overcome Sex Addiction
Once one has understood and accepted that they might have a sex addiction, the next step is to overcome the addiction. Due to the stigma around sex addiction, it might be challenging for one to find the most effective way to do so.
These tips can be useful in understanding how to deal with sex addiction.
This is a useful tool in sex addiction recovery. Despite religious standing, anyone can pray either to a supreme being or just to nature. The feeling of humbling yourself enough to ask for help can be relieving.
Knowing that there is a superior being looking out for you will help you as it provides some level of support. If you are an atheist and do not believe in praying, then this should not eat you up. You can explore other tips you think will be beneficial to you.
Ever thought about how to beat sex addiction with exercise? If your answer is yes, then you were in the right direction. If not, then you can start thinking about it now.
Exercise has several benefits, such as increasing physical energy levels, improving mood, reducing stress, and improving sleep. These aspects are typically hindered by sex addiction, so exercise pretty much reverses some of the negative effects of addiction.
Spending time doing what you love or trying out new things means you will likely be distracted for most of your time. These distractions will hinder you from focusing on your sex addiction triggers.
It is advisable for one to pick up productive distractions. Scrolling through social media as a distraction might not be as effective as pursuing a hobby such as gardening or cooking. Each person will find different distractions more effective, so if you find something ineffective, don’t be scared to try something else.
Seeking out help
Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. When you feel like you are no longer making much progress on your sex addiction recovery journey, reach out and seek help. This can be to a professional or to a friend who can then act as your accountability partner.
Treatment for Sex Addiction
Should you reach out to a therapist for sex addiction therapy, there are several therapies that can be implemented to ensure effective recovery.
The above-mentioned sex addiction symptoms can be addressed with these therapies and medication options:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
This form of therapy involves a lot of talking between the therapist and the person dealing with sex addiction. Through talking, the client is able to understand the root causes and triggers of the addiction.
As they say, knowledge is power. Once one knows the causes and triggers of the addiction, it becomes easier to avoid the triggers and deal with the underlying issues.
CBT can be done both in person or as online therapy. Due to the stigma around sex addiction, online counseling can be a great alternative as it awards privacy and anonymity.
These programs are yet another effective way of dealing with sex addiction in an anonymous environment.
Programs such as Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) create a supportive environment where people with sex addiction can meet and support each other without being judged by the outside world.
When it comes to how to overcome sex addiction in a relationship, family therapy is a great answer.
Just like CBT, family therapy can also take the form of online therapy. The person overcoming sex addiction and their family can meet with a counselor online. These meetings will help the family or partner understand what the person with sex addiction is experiencing and why they are experiencing that.
This will aid in the creation and promotion of a safe and supportive environment that helps the addict and family understand how to overcome sex addiction.
When someone learns that they have a sex addiction, they might feel ashamed and not comfortable sharing the news with many people. This is understandable due to how sex addiction is treated in society.
Also, it is a personal matter that one does not have to share if they are not comfortable with doing so.
Group therapy alleviates the sense of loneliness that one can feel when going through sex addiction recovery. The client gets to meet and interact with people who are also fighting the same addiction.
Clients can share their experiences, struggles, and achievements. This will create an encouraging environment and help clients get ideas of what they can try to alleviate the sex addiction symptoms.
Besides the above-mentioned forms of sex addiction therapy, medication can also be used to help overcome sex addiction.
Often, medication is used together with other forms of treatment such as online therapy to maximize the effectiveness. There is some medication that can be used to reduce sexual urges.
Talk to your health care practitioner so that they can prescribe the medication that will be the most effective for you should need be.
The Bottom Line
Sex is a beautiful and intimate act that is often shared by two people who find each other attractive. Once this beautiful act starts interfering with your life, there might be a need for concern.
Keep track of your experience, preferably in a diary, so that you know exactly what triggers what.
Thankfully, there are several treatment options that can be considered on how to overcome sex addiction. You can choose the one that you are the most comfortable with, and the one that you think will benefit you the most.
If you consider online therapy for sex addiction, we are here to connect you with one of our experienced online therapists.