At the Perry Clayman Project, we treat sex addiction with the seriousness it warrants, we know that sex addiction at its worst can and does kill. At the very least it can lead an individual to live a double life and feeling crippling levels of anxiety, depression, shame, guilt and remorse. At its worst, it can lead an individual to want to take their own life.
Sex should be a natural and enjoyable part of our lives. But what about when it becomes dangerous and compulsive? Yes, you can be addicted to sex.
Sex addiction can be every bit as painful and destructive as an addiction to alcohol or drugs. This particular addiction is extremely distressing, not just for the individual affected but also for their partner if they have one.
Sex addiction is a recognised psychiatric condition that if left untreated only ever gets progressively worse. It can become so all-consuming that it irreparably damages significant relationships, friendships and can also affect the individuals work, social life and finances.
Sex addiction cannot be cured but with the correct professional treatment, a sex addict can find recovery and learn how to build healthy and loving sexual relationships.
What is sex addiction?
Sex addiction much like any addiction is characterised by obsession, progression and compulsion – to the point where the individual suffers both negative consequences and emotional pain. Sex addiction can affect both men and women.
Sex addiction can present in many forms and manifest in different types of sex. A sex addict will need sexual relief frequently. Those with an unusually high sex drive, a history of addiction or mental health problems, a dysfunctional or traumatic childhood are more prone to developing this condition.
Sex becomes an addiction when the individual affected disregards others feelings in pursuit of their own sexual gratification and incurs negative consequences as a result. A sex addict will progressively need more and more sex, different forms of sex, more extreme sex and take bigger risks in order to feel satisfied.
An individual suffering from sex addiction will be preoccupied with thinking about and planning sex and will have certain ritualistic behaviours. Sex to a sex addict is a drug that they have to have – They will struggle to abstain from risky and obsessive sexual behaviour despite there being very good reasons to do so. Overtime their sex life will spill over into other areas of their life.
Compulsive sexual behaviour disorder (essentially the same condition as sex addiction) has been added to the World Health Organisations International Classification of Diseases. Sex addiction, like any other addiction, requires specific professional treatment in order to overcome.
Different types of sex addiction
Sex addiction can manifest in many different forms.
Different types of sex addiction include:
Pornography, masturbation, multiple partners, chemsex (where sex and drugs are combined for a more intense experience) frequent sex with strangers, inability to remain faithful to a partner, risky sex, sadistic or masochistic behaviour, exhibition and voyeurism, and unlawful sex (this would include prostitution, abusive sex or sex with a minor or an animal).
Signs and symptoms of sex addiction
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have a sex addiction, there are some signs and symptoms of sex addiction that you should not ignore. Identifying with any of the following statements means that you or your loved one could well have an addiction to sex and should seek professional help at once:
- You are unable to control your sexual urges and act impulsively
- Your sexual choices are impacting on other areas of your life and making it unmanageable
- You feel shame, regret, embarrassment, guilt and even self-hatred around your sexual choices and acts
- You keep promising yourself and others you will change but find you are unable to
- You are preoccupied with sexual thoughts and planning the next sexual act
- Planning sex has certain rituals for you and creates as much excitement as the act itself
- Your sexual acts have progressed either in frequency or in taking bigger risks
- You have suffered negative consequences as a direct result of your sexual choices, yet are still unable to stop
For any individual who suspects that they may have a sex addiction, it is very important to get a correct diagnosis and professional help. If your sex addiction is accompanied by a substance misuse disorder, Rehab Today by PCP’s dual diagnosis treatment centres can help with both.
Call us now to learn more about the treatment options available.
The physical effects of sex addiction
Whilst sex addiction does not cause the same damaging physical effects as an alcohol or drug addiction, those who suffer are more prone to catching an STI or STD.
Left untreated, sexually transmitted diseases and infections can cause long term repercussions. Contracting HIV is a life sentence that is likely to reduce your life span and seriously affect your quality of life.
Unwanted pregnancy is another common physical effect of sex addiction. Sex addicts tend to take risks with sex as this enhances the experience. Unprotected sex with multiple partners exposes the individual to all kinds of physical risks, some of which can be life-changing.
The most common side effect of any sex addiction is the preoccupation with sexual thoughts and fantasies. This can be so consuming that the individual feels immobilised by their thinking. Obsessive thinking in any form is debilitating and very painful to experience.
Is having a sexual fetish the same as having a sex addiction?
Sexual fetishism can be part of or a symptom of sexual addiction. But this is not the case for everyone.
A sexual fetish is a form of desire whereby sexual arousal is linked to an inanimate object or a non-genital part of the body. Examples of this would be an intense sexual attraction to feet or a particular type of erotic clothing.
A sexual fetish only becomes a problem if it evolves into a fetishistic disorder. A fetishistic disorder is a type of psychiatric disorder and sex addiction whereby the individual affected becomes completely obsessed and cannot gain any sexual gratification without the presence of the particular object of their desire. This naturally presents a problem for partners, who begin to feel like objects. Those affected by a fetishistic disorder will struggle to be intimate and have healthy relationships with themselves and with others.
Those that suffer from a fetishistic disorder will find themselves preoccupied with obsessive thoughts around their particular fetish. Just like sex addiction this disorder requires specialist professional treatment in order to overcome.
Hypersexuality & sex addiction
Hypersexuality or hypersexual disorder is a diagnosis proposed for those that engage in or think about sex more than is normal. You may ask – what is normal for sex?
No one can determine what exactly constitutes a normal sex life, but if you are thinking about and/or engaging in sex or types of sex that cause you distress, then you could be suffering from hypersexuality or sex addiction.
The key to understanding, if you need help, is if something that should feel natural and enjoyable is causing you distress, pain and shame. This being the case, effective treatment is available to help you to recover.
Sex, drugs and alcohol
Sex addiction is often accompanied by an addiction to drugs or alcohol or at the very least a substance misuse problem. Alcohol and drugs loosen inhibitions and enable a sex addict to have the courage to follow through with their fantasies. Certain drugs such as cocaine and GHB/GBL heighten sexual arousal and increase stamina, they often go hand in hand with sex addiction.
Where there is an addiction to alcohol or a drug and behaviour, it is imperative that all conditions presenting are treated simultaneously. Leaving any addiction or mental health illness untreated nearly always results in relapse.
Rehab Today by PCP specialise in dual diagnosis treatment, we can provide medical detox for any alcohol or drug dependence together with a full rehabilitation programme. This ensures that all conditions are treated comprehensively and drastically reduces the chances of relapse.
Treatment options for sex addiction
If you or a loved one need treatment for sex addiction, the following treatment options are available to consider:
- Rehab for sex addiction (private paying option)
- Psychotherapy and counselling for sex addiction (private paying option but there are also free and contribution-based treatment options such as Relate and requesting counselling sessions through your GP)
- Self-help support groups such as Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA). Please note that these groups are not run by professionals
As sex addiction is one of the lesser talked about addictions, finding and accessing the correct treatment can be difficult. The first step in overcoming any addiction is admitting that you need help. If you are unsure of which treatment option would work best for you please call us for confidential advice. We guarantee you absolute discretion.
Rehab for sex addiction
You may think that paying for rehab for sex addiction is a drastic step, but is it? Considering the damage a sex addiction can cause to your mental health and the destruction it brings to relationships, rehab can be a worthwhile investment and a turning point in overcoming addiction.
Our rehab centres treat all manner of addictions including sex addiction. We pride ourselves on our ethical approach and affordability.
By undergoing a treatment programme with PCP you will benefit from the following evidence-based treatments and care:
- Professional psychiatric assessment
- 24/7 care and support from qualifies counsellors, nurses and support workers
- Dual diagnosis assessment and treatment
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Person-centred therapy
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- 12 Step therapy
- Integrated therapy
- A selection of holistic therapies proven to be effective in treating addiction
- Free aftercare for life on completion of your treatment
At PCP rehab, each treatment programme is designed specifically to each individuals treatment needs. We know that one size does not fit all when it comes to successfully treating addiction. Call us today for further information. We can help you to break free from sex addiction and create a brand new life.
Psychology Today UK
World Health Organisation
MSD medical manual