It is possible for some people to become addicted to sex. This addiction is similar to substance abuse, as an addiction is caused by the powerful chemical substances that are released during sex.
Being addicted to something means that not having it causes withdrawal symptoms, or a "come down". Due to this being unpleasant, it's easier to carry on having or doing what you crave, and so the cycle continues. Often, an addiction gets out of control because you need more and more to satisfy a craving and achieve the "high" you feel.
What is sex addiction?
Relationship counselling service 'Relate' describes sex addiction as any sexual activity that feels "out of control". This could be sex with a partner, but it can also mean activities such as pornography, masturbation, visiting prostitutes or using chat lines.
For most people, these habits don't cause them any problems. However, sex addicts are unable to control these urges and actions, despite the problems it may cause their relationships, finances and also professional lives.
Addiction and unhealthy relationships can also lead to what is known as 'co-dependency'. This is a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person's addiction, whether this is for drugs, alcohol, gambling etc.
What causes sex addiction?
The causes of sex and love addictions are often rooted in childhood or adolescence. Early trauma, neglect or depression are potential reasons. One US study revealed that 80% of participants with a sex addiction suffered emotional trauma or sexual abuse during their childhood.
Specialised addiction services that mainly focus on substance misuse often treat those with sex and love problems, too. They use the same techniques to treat this addiction that they use to treat substance misuse. At New Leaf Recovery, once you have removed the substance from your system through detoxification, other underlying addictive behaviors and triggers such as sex and love addiction, can be explored.
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