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Sexual Addiction - How To Deal With It?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Kalrav Mistry 90% (106 ratings)
MD - Psychiatry
Psychiatrist, Jodhpur  •  8 years experience
Sexual Addiction - How To Deal With It?

It’s not fun to be a sex addict. The only difference between chemical addiction and sexual addiction is that a sex addict craves sex and not a chemical.
To a sex addict, a sexual act has to be done without regard to potential dangerous consequences. Like other addicts, sex addicts also use sex as a quick fix to relieve anxiety, loneliness, pain or stress.

Understanding sexual addiction
Also called compulsive sexual behavior, hypersexual disorder, nymphomania or hypersexuality, sexual addiction is a state where one is obsessed with sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviours to the extent that it interferes with one’s work, health, relationships and daily activities. The patient follows a routine of acting out sexual desires, followed by denial, shame, despair and confusion. Sometimes but not always, sex fantasies extend to abnormal sexual behaviors that are considered immoral or illegal.

This cycle has to go on for at least six months before sex addiction is confirmed. Other signs of sexual addiction
1. Loss of control and addiction
2. Withdrawal symptoms
3. Lack of emotional attachment

Fortunately, just like other addictions, sex addiction can also be managed.

Diagnosis
Only a trained therapist can diagnose sex addiction. There are a few conditions that can produce the same symptoms as hypersexuality like drug abuse and mental health conditions like obsessive- compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Some sex addicts can be suffering from these mental health conditions concurrently with their nymphomania. That’s why a trained psychologist has to consider the case in its entirety before making a diagnosis.


Treatment
The first step towards treatment of hypersexuality is the person recognizing that they are out of control sexually. Sex addicts can remain in denial until a significant life event like a divorce or a health crisis prompts them to seek treatment.

Many treatment options are available as cures for sex addiction which include outpatient programmes including counseling and residential sex de-addiction programmes. Residential programmes offer patients a lot of motivation and support and as the patient is removed from his environment, triggers and routines, he finds it easier to overcome sex addiction. Goals of a sex addiction treatment center programme typically include:

  1. Commitment to abstinence
  2. Developing healthy sexuality
  3. Rebuilding relationships
  4. Stress management

Treatment for sex addiction usually follows the 12-step model initially developed for substance abuse disorders. Cognitive behavioral techniques help patients to learn thoughts and behaviors that will result in more effective management of their desires and ways to achieve and maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle. In some cases, medicines used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorders or impulse control disorders can also be used to curb the compulsive nature of the sex addiction. Antidepressants, antiseizure medications and medicines that decrease levels of male hormones have been found to decrease strong sexual urges as well. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Psychiatrist.

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