What is Sex Addiction?

When someone has sex addiction, they experience compulsive sexual behavior that interferes with their personal, professional or family lives. Their relationships suffer and they can become infected with sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. Often, people have sex addiction in response to emotional trauma or neglect in their childhood. This type of addiction is referred to as sexual trauma or trauma-based sex addiction. Like any other addiction, sex addiction can affect men and women. However, the rates are higher for men due to their greater access to pornography and sex-related apps. It is thought that sex addiction is partly genetically inherited. The cravings for sex are similar to those experienced by addicts who use drugs or alcohol. They are powerful and overwhelming and the person can’t control them. Almost all people with sexual addiction have a history of abandonment, abuse or neglect in their past. They use their sexual behavior to self-medicate and elevate their sense of self-image, value and worth. Psychological sex addiction can be treated through understanding that the problem is in how the brain responds to fantasy, rather than through actual physical sex. This is accomplished through one-on-one sessions with a licensed mental health therapist. Medications that decrease urges and behaviors, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) and antidepressants, might be prescribed. Medications that reduce libido may be tried as well, although they must be prescribed by a physician and might not be the best treatment for everyone.

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