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Sex Addiction: Is it Real?

The medical community is divided on the subject of sex addiction. Although some doctors and researchers consider it a valid illness, it’s not an officially recognized medical diagnosis. There is evidence to suggest that sex abuse, like other forms of behavioural Addiction, can be a devastating and treatable condition.

Takeaways from the conference:

  • Addiction is a chronic disease caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors which affect the way in which the brain processes pleasure. Addiction is characterized by compulsive behaviour that continues despite harm.
  • Sexual Addiction is a behavioural addiction like gambling and other addictions that do not involve substances.
  • Professionals are divided on whether or not sex addiction exists and how to define it. Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder fits into the current scientific understanding of Addiction.

Addiction: What is it?

Most commonly, the term “addiction’ is used to describe alcoholism or other substance abuse disorders. Medical professionals recognize many forms of behavioural addiction, such as gambling and exercise addiction. Addiction can be a chronic medical condition that causes compulsive, repetitive behaviours with negative consequences. It is still not known what causes Addiction, but it is thought to be related to the way brain circuits process rewarding or enjoyable behaviour.

If otherwise productive and enjoyable activities, such as eating or sex, become compulsive, they can cause stress, guilt and shame rather than bring pleasure. Compulsive behaviour is a sign of Addiction, even if it causes physical or psychological harm or interferes with daily life. Compulsive behaviours can be an indication of other medical or psychiatric conditions.

Addiction is not a disease.

Addiction, like Type 2 Diabetes, is a chronic condition. Type 2 diabetes and Addiction are both treatable conditions that are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Both diabetes and Addiction can be controlled with medication, but long-term control requires conscious, consistent decisions to avoid unhealthy behaviours. It is not your choice to be an addict, just as it is not your choice to have diabetes. However, successful recovery depends on making healthy choices.

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual Addiction is a compulsive and repetitive sexual behaviour that cannot be stopped. It can include masturbation or intercourse. Hypersexual behaviour can be a part of sexual Addiction. However, it can also be a result of physical or mental conditions like bipolar disorder.

People who are sex-addicted do not just want to have sexual relations all the time. Sex addiction is not caused by sexual appetite, infidelity, or promiscuity. Sex addiction is when the urge for sexual behaviour overpowers logic and common sense, driving someone to repeatedly engage in activities that are harmful or risky.

Sex abuse is a controversial issue.

Sexual Addiction is a behavioural addiction similar to gambling addiction. However, it is not regarded as a disease in the medical community. Compulsive sexual behaviour disorder has been listed in the International Classification of Diseases, Eleventh Revision, and is widely recognized as a diagnostic for sexual Addiction. The American Psychiatric Association, which is the standard for defining psychiatric and psychological diagnoses, does not accept sexual Addiction as a diagnosis. Research estimates that between 3 and 6% suffer from some kind of sexual Addiction.

Addiction versus dependence

Physical dependence can be caused by the chronic use of certain drugs, such as alcohol or opiates. If they stop using alcohol or other substances, people with physical dependency will experience withdrawal symptoms. Addiction and dependence often go together. Sex abuse can occur alongside substance abuse, and it may even contribute to it.

Treatment of sex addiction

Sex abuse can be treated in the same way as other addictions. This includes medication, psychotherapy and participation in support groups or self-help programs. Sex addicts can also have other mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. In order to treat sex abuse properly, it is important to address these other conditions.

  • Certain medications, such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers (used to treat alcohol and drug addiction), may improve compulsive homosexual behaviour.
  • Several psychotherapies can be used for sex addiction. These include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.
  • Based on the 12-step program used by Alcoholics Anonymous helps people who have various addictions or behavioural problems, such as compulsive behaviour.

Treatments that work for one person may not be effective for another. It is important to keep in mind that you can’t expect to recover if you don’t seek treatment.

Medical professionals are still divided over whether sex abuse is a real disease. Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder is a disorder that causes people to have sexual behaviours which are harmful to themselves and others. It is difficult to understand Addiction, but it can be treated. Discuss compulsive behaviour with your doctor if you or someone close to you is exhibiting it.

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