Addiction to sexual activities can be just as destructive as addiction to chemical substances.
Addicts may jeopardize their marriage and family relationships, allow their job performance to deteriorate, and endanger themselves and their partner through multiple sexual exposures.
Even though they realize the consequences, they cannot control their compulsions without appropriate treatment.
For most people, sex enhances the quality of life. However, about 3% to 6% of Americans have sexual addiction.
Through their addiction, they may
- injure themselves physically,
- experience psychological distress,
- lose their livelihood, and
- ruin meaningful relationships.
Sexual addiction often coexists with chemical dependency, and untreated sexual addiction contributes to relapse to chemical use.
Sexual addicts not only endanger themselves but also put their loved ones at risk for AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Patterns and examples of sexual addiction. Many of these activities are normal and acceptable – on their own. These are only examples that sex addicts may find to be a problem. See questionnaire below.
- Fantasy sex: neglecting commitments because of fantasy life, masturbation
- Seductive role sex: extramarital affairs (heterosexual or homosexual), flirting and seductive behavior
- Anonymous sex: engaging in sex with anonymous partners, having one night stands
- Paying for sex: paying prostitutes for sex, paying for sexually explicit phone calls
- Trading sex: receiving money or drugs for sex
- Voyeuristic sex: patronizing adult bookstores and strip shows, looking through windows of houses, having a collection of pornography at home or at work
- Exhibitionist sex: exposing oneself in public places or from the home or car, wearing clothes designed to expose
- Intrusive sex: touching others without permission, using position of power (eg, professional, religious) to sexually exploit another person, rape
- Pain exchange: causing or receiving pain to enhance sexual pleasure
- Object sex: masturbating with objects, cross-dressing to add to sexual pleasure, using fetishes as part of sexual rituals, having sex with animals
- Sex with children: forcing sexual activity on a child, watching child pornography