What is sex addiction and how to come out of it?

Addiction affects physically and mentally. There are several methods and treatments to come out of sex addiction. One such method which has generated high success rate is 12 step program. It is one of the most sought out methods to overcome Sex addiction.

Human sexuality is critical for the survival of the species; it is a fantastic conception of happiness, closeness, and stimulation for many adults. Yet the intimacy and attractiveness of sex can be vandalized by sex addiction, an ailment that causes an unhealthy fixation with pursuing, eyeing, or regaling in sexual activity.  

Individuals with sex addiction will go to extremes to fulfill their desires or live out their fabrications, regardless of the consequences. The American Association for Marriage and Family therapy gauges that sex addiction affects approximately 12 million adults in the US. 

 Also known as hypersexual disorder, sex addiction waste excessive time and resources. The person may also expend a great value of money seeking gratification in the formation of pornography, prostitution, online sex forums, etc. 

 The costs of sex addiction can be immense, affecting all aspects of the individual’s life and the lives of loved ones. Sex addiction treatment programs can interfere in this disorder’s malignant advancement and oblige clients to reconstruct their lives on a footing of virtue, self-worth, and belief. 

Can Sex Be an Addiction? 

Sex can become an addiction if the demand for sexual gratification prioritizes other responsibilities. 

Even though sex is frequently associated with love and passionate intimacy, sex addiction usually lacks an emotional element. The purpose for sexual fulfillment comes from an unmet psychological need to alleviate anxiety, depression, or psychological tension, not from a lack of closeness or the craving to form a relationship. 

About sex addiction:

A person unable to handle their sexual behavior realizing the negative consequences, will spend an excessive quantity of time pursuing or employing in sex while retaining the activity secret from others. 

People with sex addiction will be incapable of stopping the behavior unless there is an intervening circumstance. Consequently, personal and professional associations may suffer, and there may be an expanded peril of sexually transmitted infection. 


 People with a sex addiction often employ sex to escape from other emotive and psychological problems.

Defining Features:

Not everyone in the medical community is confident that sex addiction is a customary diagnosis. Because of this, it is not documented as a clinical diagnosis in DSM issued by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). 

Consequently, the diagnostic standards for sex addiction are often ambiguous and impressionistic. However, several determining features common to people with sex addiction have been proposed: 

  • Sex devastates the person’s life disregard other activities. 
  • Sexual activities may be inappropriate and risky. 
  • The constant longing for sex is commonly interspersed with sentiments of guilt, despair, or shame. 
  • The person engages in phone sex, pornography, or computer sex.  
  • The person engages in sex with numerous partners and has adulterous liaisons. 
  • The person masturbates habitually when solitary. 

Compulsive sexual behavior is a disorder where people cannot control their sexual conduct. Continuous sexual introspections meddle with the capacity to work, sustain relationships, and achieve their day-to-day actions. 

Sexual Addiction: The Numbers 

Proficient consider that approximately 6% of the inhabitants display attributes that exemplify sex addiction. For every 3 men with sexual addiction, psychologists evaluate 1 woman who has a similar sexual addiction. 

Characteristics demonstrating compulsive sexual behavior: 

  • Redundant sexual activities to the point of disregarding health and personal care. 
  • numerous unsuccessful efforts to significantly reduce repetitive sexual behavior 
  • A persisted repetitious sexual behavior despite unfavorable effects emanating no satisfaction. 
  • A routine of failure to retain extreme sexual urges for an extended period like six months 
  • persistent behaviors that cause marked distress or substantial impairment in critical areas of life. 

Top 3 Causes of compulsive sexual behavior are:

Though the rationales of compulsive sexual behavior are clouded, they may comprise:

#1 Inequality of natural brain chemicals.  

Certain chemicals in our brain, also called neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, assist in regulating our mood. Elevated levels may be linked to compulsive sexual behavior. 

#2 Transformations in brain pathways.  

Compulsive sexual behavior is an addiction that, with passing time, might provoke differences in the brain’s neural trajectories, especially in the support centers of the brain. Like other addictions, more-intensive sexual scope and impulse generally need overtime to achieve happiness or comfort. 

#3 Disorders affecting the brain.  

Certain illnesses or health issues, such as epilepsy and dementia, may induce impairment to domains of the brain that influence sexual behavior. Treating Parkinson’s disease with dopamine against pills may drive compulsive sexual behavior. 

What are sexual addiction signs? 

Sex addicts repent from a pessimistic pattern of sexual behavior that directs to significant issues or despair that may enclose the following: 

  • There is a need for more to achieve the desired effect. 
  • Biological or psychological feelings of a pullback are seen. 
  • Recovering from the demeanor takes longer than intended. 
  • Unsuccessful attempts to reduce or eradicate behavior. 
  • Bypassing work or school shifting.  
  • Persisting the behavior despite physical or psychological problems

Related : How to recover from sexual addiction

What is the prognosis of sexual addiction?

Research shows that the prognosis of sexual addictions leans on several factors, whether or not it involves paraphilic or sexually violent behaviors.  

 For sexual offenders, prognosis includes a higher number and more than one type of sexual violation, enclosing a prior unlawful past, low compassion for their target, boosted rage at the moment of the crime, fierce sexual fabrications, and perspectives that their victim appreciates.  

Can Sex Addiction Be Treated? 

Yes, Sex addiction can be treated, and speaking with a psychologist or licensed social worker will help. They will help address some underlying factors and teach us to cope with our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

How do medical professionals evaluate and analyze sexual addiction? 

No one test definitively points that somebody has a sexual addiction. Therefore, health care practitioners diagnose these disorders by collecting complete medical, family, and mental health knowledge.  

  •  In requesting queries about mental health signs, mental health professionals often examine if the individual suffers from sexual obsession or compulsions, or manic symptoms that may cause extreme sexual activity as a portion of the associated symptoms.
  • Practitioners may supply the people they assess with a quiz or self-test to screen for sexual addiction.  
  •  Since some of the symptoms of sex addiction can also coincide with mental illnesses, the mental health screening decides if the individual suffers from any. 
  •  Any sickness associated with hypersexual disordered behavior, like dependent personality disorder, etc., may be particularly contesting to differentiate from sex addiction.
  • To demonstrate a sexual addiction diagnosis, health care professionals will distinguish sexual habits from medical conditions that may enclose hypersexual symptoms.  

Is it feasible to stop sexual addiction? 

As the ambitious energies for sexual addiction appear to be more low self-esteem than outrageous thrill-seeking, interventions that improve self-esteem and self-image seem critical in dissuading these disorders. It is good to evade internet addiction which may be beneficial in preventing sexual addiction, while parents must enlighten their children about the imperilment of such behaviors. 

 Some therapeutic options include: 

#1 Individual therapy 

One-hour sessions with a certified mental health professional are done. 

#2 Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). 

It focuses on the idea that our behaviors, emotions, and thoughts are interrelated and changes negative thoughts to positive reviews. 

#3 Psychodynamic therapy. 

Built around the belief that unconscious memories and conflicts affect our behavior, it uncovers early childhood influencers of current habits.  

#4 Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT) 

It contains four components: skills training group, individual treatment, DBT phone coaching, and consultation team to teach mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation. 

#5 Group therapy 

Qualified therapists are designed to replace harmful and detrimental behaviors.  

#6 Couple counseling or Marriage counseling: 

Counseling of couples is done to improve communication skills and healthy sexual functioning. 

#7 12-step recovery 

Sex Addicts Anonymous is a group-based model that acknowledges powerlessness and willingness to live a life free of addiction. 

#8 Inpatient therapy 

The patient resides in a recovery center for the duration of treatment to focus on the healing process without distractions. 

Self-Care: Foundation for Healing 

Knowing for the first time about our partner’s addiction crashes our life. Our brain tries to incorporate, manage, and comprehend the incoming data with our life pre-discovery. It is entirely coherent for us to use various means to pursue safety by collecting particulars withheld from us.  


 Supposing our sex addict partner seeks professional help from someone acquainted, they are provided with the means and directions to compose a formal disclosure to furnish us with all the information we deserve. Post-disclosure polygraph has become typical in sex addiction treatment.  

Let’s focus on how we can rehearse self-care during this demanding time. 

 PIES self-care for partners post-discovery: 

 P – Physical 

 I – Intellectual 

 E – Emotional 

 S – Spiritual 


STI Testing: Even if we don’t believe our partner had sexual contact with another person, we should test for sexually transmitted diseases because we are ultimately liable for our physical health and well-being. 

Safe Sex Practices: Even if we don’t believe our sex addict partner has been sexual with others, we must use protection every time. 


Knowledge is power, and we should read various books about sex addiction and those targeted explicitly for mates of sex addicts. Confer on a therapist if felt necessary. 


One of the most challenging realities of dealing with the aftermath of discovery is that the person we used to go to for comfort and reassurance has become least trustworthy.  

With passing time, our sex-addicted partner will be emotionally available. But in the conception, partners must find other sources of emotional support where therapy, partner groups, workshops, and 12-step communities become a partner’s lifeline as they struggle with feelings of isolation and uncertainty in early post-discovery. 


It would be best to have spiritual support and guidance since it is a place of strength, support, and comfort. 

The 12 step program 

The 12-step is planned to equip psychological, friendly, and spiritual support for addicts. The addicts need to concede that their addiction isn’t in their power, and past errors are corrected with a patron who is an experienced fellow. The conclusive action is to live a new life with a distinctive principle of behavior and assist others who suffer from addictions. 

The most significant advantage is the sense of community and belonging that it offers and destigmatizes addiction and helps people accept responsibility for their dependence on sex. The plan commands nothing, and a person can depend on it. One altercation against the program was it concentrated on the emotional and spiritual and disregarded the physical. 

Calling yourself an addict is vital in the 12-step plan, which is a social involvement part of the plan. The shared confessional approach is another program extent that may cause people to quiver. 

12-step support groups are beneficial to people trying to overcome an unhealthy dependence on substances or behaviors such as gambling or sex addiction. They give people who have similar problems a way to share their experience, strength, and hope with each other. The actual “twelve steps” are principles for living, and the original 12-step group is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). 

What to expect from the 12 step program? 

#1 Addicts supporting addicts 

Addicts are paired with patrons, allowing them to achieve support and guidance from an experienced one who has been via it themselves. 

#2 Association 

Meetings let us be in the same physical space as other addicts and provide emotional support when we feel the unhappiest. 

#3 Encouraging honesty 

It would be problematic to encounter a more genuine, honest, and obtaining ring of people.  

#4 Means for managing stress 

The Twelve steps are set up, a system in place, and people to sustain us when flailing.  

#5 Directions for life 

The program is based on fundamental principles like humility, forgiveness, acceptance, etc., that have the strength to alter our entire life. 

How to get started from the 12 step program? 

Sexaholics Anonymous defines sexual addiction as a relationship with sexual activity that leaves the individual in a state of guilt and dissatisfaction. Most individuals are disconnected from their daily lives due to their addiction.  

 Sexaholics Anonymous is not directly affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but it follows the basic format from the AA. 

 The 12 steps of Sexaholics Anonymous are identical to AA and established on the twelve steps and twelve traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. Still, SA applies these steps keeping in mind sexual addiction. 

Step1. Accept total powerlessness over the craving. 

Step2. Acknowledge that a higher power can reform us to a state of psychological normality. 

Step3. Turning over our will and life to a higher power as comprehensible. 

Step4. Carrying righteous checklist of our life. 

Step5. Disclosemisconducts to God, oneself, and others. 

Step6. Be inclined to God to empty the character defect of lust. 

Step7. AskingGod to remove our imperfections. 

Step8. Composer list of people the individual’s sexual addiction has abused and ready to make amends voluntarily. 

Step9. Completeamends to those we hurt for sexual addiction. 

Step10. Persisting taking a checklist of private wrongs. 

Step11. Aspireadvice on overcoming our lust via prayer and meditation. 

Step12. Reach out and help others to overpower their sexual addictions. 

SA is well known for its inclusive meetings and mentorship program, a secure medium for conversation in a judgment-free area. This group comes with the advantage of accountability. 

What are the benefits of the 12-step-program? 

The most successful treatment for any addiction is the 12 step program. A study publicized in the Journal of Substance Abuse found that people vigorously involved in the 12 Step program during their recovery from addiction were 2.8 times more likely to abstain from drugs, alcohol, or compulsive behaviors. It 

has been tested and experimented with, and the consequences are straightforward. People completing a 12 step SAA program are less likely to go around to irritable sexual behavior. 

Tips for staying on track:

 Recovery meetings of Sex Addicts Anonymous offer a non-threatening environment where we can share day-to-day struggles and realize how to employ the Twelve Steps codes in our daily lives. The only necessary commitment to become a member of SAA is the longing to stop addictive sexual behavior, as they charge no fees. 

We rehearse strict obscurity and confidentiality so that nothing gets disclosed or discussed with anyone.  

 Twelve steps are 12 degrees that walk us through the recovery process. These steps are usually examined and marked in SAA meetings, where participants discover how to incorporate the measures into their day-to-day dynamism.

Group meetings allow us to achieve feedback and backing from other addicts and realize that you require the help of others. These steps are the core of our program, and they possess a depth that we could not guess when we started.  

 It offers a spiritual answer to our addiction without requiring commitment to any detailed cluster of beliefs or traditions. 

 But the steps are better than a sequence of exercises, and they supply basic principles getting incorporated into our thoughts, feelings, and behavior with passing the time. 


The advancement in the 12 steps program, measured as the current program step is significantly related to lower levels of a sexual-related overall sense of helplessness, avoidant help-seeking, self-control, overall CSB, and sexual suppression.

It is also associated with higher well-being. We also predict that advancement in the recovery process will be related to better mental health, self-control, and more frequent treatment-seeking behavior and perceived social support. 


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Bhanu Shree

Bhanu Shree is a seasoned psychologist with over five years of specialized experience in child and adolescent psychology, particularly in addressing learning difficulties and ADHD. A respected mentor in mental health, she offers transformative guidance to adolescents facing various psychological challenges. Beyond her clinical expertise, Shree is an acclaimed author, contributing insightful perspectives on addiction and youth mental health issues. Her work is widely recognized for treatment in the mental health field.

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