Addiction is usually said to be associated, if not a result of, stress and anxiety disorders. A tragic or traumatic event may cause a person to feel self-hatred, extreme anger, loneliness, and depression. In search for an event or situation to change these negative feelings, they seek for things that would can give them pleasure. Substances such as alcohol, amphetamines, and cocaine have a component within them that causes a person to release more dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter responsible for the good or pleasurable feelings that most people experience. Engaging in some activities such as sex and having an orgasm trigger the same reaction within the brain. Because of the satisfaction, relief or escape that these substances and activities provide to a person who is already psychologically troubled, he or she will seek to experience the euphoria some more. As a result, an addiction develops as well as feelings of obsession and compulsion.
Engaging in sexual or romantic activities is considered natural among humans. The moderation or frequency among each individual, however, varies. Some people do these activities more frequently compared to others but that does not necessarily make them sex addicts.
Some of the characteristics that should be observed in a person to consider him or her as a possible sexual addict are listed below:
l He or she must have a pattern of failing in resisting his or her impulse to engage in specific sexual behaviors;
l He or she must frequently engage in those sexual behaviors to a greater extent or longer period than what he or she is intended;
l He or she might experience a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to stop, reduce, or control those sexual behaviors;
l He or she spends an inappropriately large amount of time or resources spent in obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual experience;
l He or she has a certain preoccupation with certain sexual behaviors or preparatory activities;
l He or she still frequently engages in sexual behaviors even when expected to fulfill occupational, academic, domestic, or social obligations;
l He or she still continues to do the sexual behaviors or activities despite knowing that he or she will have a persistent or recurring social, financial, psychological, or physical problem that is caused or made worse by the behavior; and
l He or she feels distressed, anxious, restless, or irritated if he or she is unable to engage in sexual behaviors or activities.
There are also different levels of sexual addiction. Level one is being engaged in compulsive sexual activities or thoughts only. Level two already includes acts of voyeurism, exhibitionism, and rubbing against people in public places. Level three is when a person already commits much more serious and intrusive sexual offenses that have more harmful consequences.
Sexual addiction, like most other addictions, have several negative consequences. Someone who engages in sexual activities frequently with other people has a greater tendency to acquire infections such as AIDS for example. A female sex addict also has a higher chance of getting pregnant. Sex addicts usually have financial problems because of their uncontrolled expenditure to satisfy their addiction. They will also have social problems such as difficulty relating to their family and their friends primarily because they already have a sense of shame being aware of their problem and the inability to control it.
Professional help is very much needed in order for a person to recover from this kind of addiction. Therapy sessions with professionals may either be done individually or in a group. Several organizations such as Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous already provide programs and support groups to help a person who has an addiction to change and get better in avoiding the compulsion. Some medications can also be used to treat not necessarily a person’s sexual addiction but his or her co-occurring psychological problems.