Sexual addiction refers to the condition of not being able to control one’s sexual urges, impulses, and thoughts. Although sexual impulses are normal and natural, sexual addiction leads to excessive stimulation that negatively impacts an individual’s life. According to the DSM-5 sexual addiction is not considered a mental condition. However, studies show that it can come along as a chemical addiction. People suffering from sexual addiction develop a compulsive need for sexual stimulation that more often affects their daily activities. Addiction comes in different forms, such as prostitution, watching pornography, sexual acts, voyeurism, and masturbation (Castro-Calvo et al.,2018). Sexual addiction has various psychological, physiological, and medical effects with consequences that are symptomized by individual behavioral changes.
Sexual Addiction Symptoms
A sexual addict spends intemperate time and energy on sex. An excessive amount of his or her time is spent on either having sex, trying to acquire sex, or recovering from previous sex experiences. The addiction is interspersed with feelings of regret, shame, depression, and anxiety (Sussman & Tsai, 2020). The person might even exhibit signs of clinical depression and suicide ideation. Like any other form of addiction, sexual addiction makes one to fixate too much on sex to an extent they cannot carry out their duties effectively. Their performance in school, workplace, or individual life deteriorates due to sex prioritization.
Excessive masturbation is an evident behavioral sign of sex addiction. An addict develops compulsive sexual fantasy resulting in masturbating during inappropriate times and doing it to levels that result in physical injury, discomfort, or pain. In some incidents, addiction results in the person engaging in risky sexual behaviors (Sussman & Tsai, 2020). These would include public sex, unprotected sex, prostitution, and exhibitionism. Committing criminal sexual offenses is another symptom of sexual addiction. Due to the inability to tame their sexual urge, an addict will engage in raping, stalking, and molestation. However, not all criminals engaging in sexual offenses are perceived as sex addicts.
Issues Associated with Sexual Addiction
Psychologically, sex addiction is termed as hypersexuality which is regarded as a compulsive sexual behavior disorder. According to psychologists, sexual addiction is perceived as an inner conflict with the moral code proscribing sex and not managing sex impulses (Coleman et al., 2018). Being addicted to sex results in the manifestation of psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. This is because of the guilty a person feels. Psychological factors such as stress are among the leading causes of sexual addiction.
Physically, sexual addiction results in a near-constant or constant arousal. This is more often associated with engaging in sex and masturbation frequently (Coleman et al., 2018). The nature and intensity of the act can result in severe physical effects such as injury and pain. Issues of sleep debridement and fatigue can also be associated with hypersexuality. Withdrawal from the addiction can lead to agitation, insomnia, and restlessness. If these effects are not managed, the addict poses a physical danger of violence and accidents.
From a medical perspective, sexual addiction is a controversial diagnosis. Therefore, it lacks evidence-based treatment regimes to control it (Coleman et al., 2018). Medical issues associated with hypersexuality are mostly management programs. Medical drugs such as antidepressants are prescribed for addicts to aid in alleviating sexual urges. Pre-exposure prophylaxis is another medical matter relating to sexual addiction. PrEP involves the use of antivirals by people at risk of contracting HIV. Sex addicts, due to their uncontrollable sexual behavior it is encouraged they use the drugs to regulate chances of getting the virus.
Effects of Sexual Addiction
Emotional Individual Effects
Compulsive sexual desires can lead to dire consequences in both one’s private and public life. The repercussion includes suicidal ideation, self-hatred, severe depression, shame, despair, low self-esteem, helplessness, loneliness, moral conflict, anxiety, and self-deceit (Sussman & Tsai, 2020). The addiction can also cause fear of abandonment, remorse, a contradiction between behaviors and ethical values, distorted thinking, and spiritual bankruptcy. Patterns of the addicts end up developing compulsions, emotional difficulties, and psychosomatic issues.
Health and Legal Effects
Sexual addiction can lead to medical issues such as contracting sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and gonorrhea. The transmission rate among addicts is high due to their risk behaviors of engaging in unprotected sex and prostitution. Due to excessive sexual activity, use of sex aids, and foreign objects for sex, accidents are prone to occur, resulting in genital injury and wound formation. Sexual addiction can result in severe legal consequences as addicts are always likely to commit criminal offenses (Sussman & Tsai, 2020). Addiction causes one to indulge in illegalities such as drug abuse and sexual misconduct, including stalking and raping. These behaviors will lead to the arrest and incarceration of the individual.
According to my personal theoretical orientation, sexual addiction is a mental disorder primarily caused by moral corruption. Ideally, a morally upright individual can control his or her sexual thoughts and urges, thereby preventing addiction. In present-day society, the youth are the primary victims of sexual addiction. This indicates that their upbringing and the parental guidance offered were not morally efficient. Social media is the core facilitator of addiction by enabling easy access to sexual content such as pornography.
Sexual addiction should be considered a mental disorder that requires immediate intervention. This is due to the severity of its effects, especially on the family. It has led to marital disruptions amongst many couples causing breakups and poor parental guidance to the children. In solving the issue, it is strategical to focus on its leading cause. Stress and moral corruption are the main reasons for hypersexuality. Promoting counseling and spirituality can help resolve the problem.
Castro-Calvo, J., Ballester-Arnal, R., Billieux, J., Gil-Julia, B., & Gil-Llario, M. D. (2018). Spanish validation of the sexual addiction screening test. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 7(3), 584-600. Web.
Coleman, E., Dickenson, J. A., Girard, A., Rider, G. N., Candelario-Pérez, L. E., Becker-Warner, R., Kovic, A. G., & Munns, R. (2018). An integrative biopsychosocial and sex positive model of understanding and treatment of impulsive/compulsive sexual behavior. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 25(2-3), 125-152. Web.
Sussman, S., & Tsai, J. Y. (2020). Sexual addiction. In C. A. Essau & P. H. Delfabbro (Eds.), Adolescent Addiction (pp. 241-263). Academic Press. Web.