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  • Addiction.

  • It's when something that started as normal use becomes a compulsion that slowly consumes

  • your life, with the desire to get more occupying your every waking thought.

  • Most addictions are to a substance, with the most common being nicotine, alcohol, and various

  • drugs.

  • The common treatment is to go cold turkey with a support system that keeps you from

  • relapsing.

  • But what happens when your addiction is to a basic biological imperative?

  • That's sex addiction, and it's surprisingly common.

  • A compulsion to have sex is nothing new - everyone's familiar with the sex drive, also known as

  • the libido.

  • A combination of biological, psychological, and social factors, the sex drive is driven

  • by a combination of neurotransmitters and hormones including dopamine and either testosterone

  • and estrogen.

  • Production of these hormones varies in different people, and some people may have a much higher

  • sex drive than others.

  • So what sets sex addiction apart from a high sex drive?

  • That depends on who you ask.

  • Scientists differ on whether seeking sex compulsively actually qualifies as an addiction, and it's

  • not a clinical diagnosis in the DSM yet.

  • However, other mental health experts have observed a surprising number of people who

  • have trouble controlling intense and frequent sexual desires that lead to self-destructive

  • behavior.

  • The team behind the International Classification of Diseases did create their own category

  • for it, officially titledCompulsive sexual behavior”.

  • So how many people are battling sex addiction?

  • That depends on how you define it.

  • If you consider everyone who's dealing with sex-related issues, that number could be as

  • high as sixteen percent of people.

  • But if you look at more severe symptoms and try to pinpoint a definition of sex addiction,

  • it's closer to between three and six percent.

  • That's still a lot of people who haven't had a name for their condition until recently,

  • and one thing stands out in many studies of sex addiction.

  • Men are almost twice as likely to develop this addiction as women.

  • So what causes sex addiction?

  • Is it a purely psychological condition, or is there something deeper at work?

  • Scientists have looked at many possible causes.

  • Psychologists have observed that those who display symptoms of sex addiction often began

  • their sex lives at an early age, and may have experienced serious trauma as a child.

  • That leads many to believe that it's an unhealthy coping mechanism for people who

  • never had the opportunity to develop their sex drive at an older age, and getting to

  • the root of the trauma and addressing it may be the best treatment approach.

  • Others argue it may be a symptom of borderline personality disorder, which many people with

  • a tendency towards promiscuity are diagnosed with.

  • Others argue it might be an imbalance in natural hormones and neurotransmitters causing the

  • addiction.

  • Those taking medications that affect their dopamine production have been observed to

  • develop a syndrome that can result in compulsive sexual activity or gambling.

  • So how to research this condition beyond talking to people who experience it?

  • Time to call on the researcher's most reliable tool - rats!

  • Compulsive sexual behavior isn't exclusive to humans, as anyone who's seen a bunch

  • of wild rabbits would know.

  • Scientists studying rats that display compulsive sexual behavior have observed that this behavior

  • is driven by the same mechanisms in the brain that affect drug addiction.

  • This is the clearest proof yet that sex addiction is a genuine addiction, but it's complicated

  • by the fact that sexual activity is not an outside stimulant.

  • It's a natural instinct that acts as a positive reinforcer.

  • Naturally perceived by the brain as a reward, it triggers the instinct to seek it and the

  • brain responds accordingly.

  • Finding the line between the natural desire for sexual activity and the emergence of an

  • addiction is one of the biggest challenges facing researchers.

  • That's one of the challenges facing sex addiction sufferers too.

  • Where does the line change between a desire and an addiction?

  • As more sex addiction sufferers come forward, a portrait is emerging of people whose desire

  • for sex takes over every single part of their life.

  • Most sex addicts don't have any physical symptoms, so there's no withdrawal period

  • due to the lack of chemical addiction.

  • The symptoms are mostly emotional, and many report that their fixation on sex makes it

  • impossible to concentrate on anything else.

  • They're thinking about sex when they go to work or school, when they're driving,

  • even when they're trying to fall asleep at night.

  • When not having sex, they report feeling empty.

  • That leads them to seek out or stay in relationships that might be far from healthy.

  • Being in a relationship for a sex addict is tricky in its own right.

  • The best bet for a sex addict to have a healthy relationship would probably be to find someone

  • else with a very high sex drive so they can keep each other satisfied, but that's treating

  • the symptoms - not the addiction.

  • It's very easy for that relationship to go off the rails as soon as they're separated,

  • because sex addiction is an insatiable beast.

  • When an addict's first choice for sex isn't around, they might quickly slip into bad habits.

  • That can include having an affair or seeking out a sex worker - either of which could not

  • only destroy their relationship, but leave them and their partner vulnerable to a sexually

  • transmitted disease.

  • Making it trickier, sex addiction is a disorder - but it may be one of many.

  • People have come forward with addictions to many different types of sex, some driven by

  • the digital world we live in.

  • Some people have become addicted to masturbation, becoming obsessed with pleasuring themselves

  • even in inappropriate situations.

  • A prominent journalist was recently caught masturbating on a Zoom chat - he claimed he

  • thought it was off, but that didn't save his job.

  • Others report an addiction to pornography, which is easier to get than ever thanks to

  • the internet - although it does carry the risk of a very different kind of virus.

  • Others have a compulsion to expose themselves in public or spy on others, which can lead

  • to serious legal trouble.

  • These are all related to sex addiction, and people can have one or more - which can often

  • mingle with other addictions.

  • Treatment and support are available now - but it wasn't always that way.

  • As sex addiction becomes more recognized as a disorder, many sex addicts are coming forward

  • with their stories of just how far they would go to satisfy their urges.

  • Many are just starting to dig out from all the relationship, professional, and legal

  • trouble their addiction caused them and are sharing their stories in anonymous forums.

  • One man was so fixated on sex that he would patronize online hook-up sites for anonymous

  • sex.

  • This obsession became so strong that he eventually started skipping out on his job in the middle

  • of the day to meet up with partners.

  • This continued until he got caught up in his latest hookup and missed an important meeting.

  • A quick dismissal from his job soon followed as he hit rock bottom.

  • Other sex addicts use their addiction to cover up for other stresses in their life.

  • A successful businessman's marriage was already in trouble when he started giving

  • in to his compulsion to hire prostitutes.

  • It didn't take long for his wife to figure out a lot of money was going missing, and

  • she demanded he stop.

  • So he promised he would - but actually started opening new accounts, hiding his money, and

  • getting deeper and deeper into the world of compulsive sex.

  • And that's only the start of the trouble sex addicts can find themselves in without

  • treatment.

  • Addictive behaviors often go together, and people who are susceptible to one are vulnerable

  • to others.

  • One woman had a stable relationship with her husband until he wanted their active sex life

  • to involve drugs.

  • At first, she agreed, but his drug use grew out of control and put them both in danger.

  • She pulled away, but he got sucked deeper and deeper into his addiction and concealed

  • his addictions from her.

  • Another man was used to drinking pretty heavily as part of his social scene.

  • He liked to ask random women for selfies and use them as his personal connection for pleasuring

  • himself.

  • He built a massive collection thanks to lowering his own inhibitions by drinking heavily - and

  • didn't realize how out of control he had become until his daughter discovered his secret

  • collection and was horrified.

  • Other sex addicts find themselves hitting even lower rock bottoms as they get arrested

  • for soliciting sex workers or having public sex.

  • Others contract sexually transmitted diseases that they then spread quickly as they move

  • through sexual partners.

  • The good news is, there's more help now than ever before.

  • So what is the best treatment for those struggling with sex addiction?

  • Many sex addicts seek counseling, but the counseling field is still split on whether

  • sex addiction is a real diagnosis.

  • The official regulatory bodies for sex and relationship therapy haven't accepted sex

  • addiction as its own disorder, so the job of counseling those with sex addiction usually

  • falls to experts of another sort - addiction specialists.

  • While these counselors may not have much experience with sex addiction, they've counseled countless

  • other people on how to handle addictions that are consuming their lives.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is common for treating other addictions, has been used

  • to help sex addicts learn coping methods and behaviors to control their urges and keep

  • them from disrupting their lives.

  • But there's another key element often missing from treatment - support.

  • Ever since Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, anonymous

  • groups where addicts can share their stories and offer support to those struggling have

  • been a cornerstone of addiction counseling.

  • The programs have since expanded to groups supporting those struggling with addiction

  • to narcotics, gambling, and overeating, as well as groups for family members supporting

  • their loved ones with addiction.

  • Multiple groups dedicated to helping sex addicts have emerged, including an online forum named

  • NoFap and several in-person support groups.

  • There's just one problem - not all of them agree on what the best approach is.

  • Sex addiction is a newly diagnosed disorder and there has been relatively little research

  • done into it compared to other addictions.

  • That means different groups interpret the best way to help addicts differently.

  • The most famous group, Sexaholics Anonymous, has a strict definition of sexual sobriety

  • and helps those who want to go cold turkey on casual sex, pornography, and masturbation.

  • Others, like SMART Recovery and Sex Addicts Anonymous, have a more flexible definition

  • and help their members find a balance that gets their addiction under control.

  • Many people who don't have any of these groups in their area attend Alcoholics Anonymous

  • meetings without sharing why they're there and try to apply the twelve steps to their

  • own addiction.

  • But what about those who are struggling to get their addiction under control?

  • Getting a major compulsion to a manageable level can be a long process, so many counselors

  • are taking another step to protect their patients as they recover.

  • Because many sex addicts engage in risky sex with people they don't know, some take pre-exposure

  • prophylaxis during the early stages of recovery.

  • This drug, covered by most insurance plans, is a preventive measure that helps to prevent

  • HIV infections.

  • It's favored by people who aren't ready to go cold turkey on their sex habits but

  • want to avoid infection while they work towards recovery.

  • Is society ready to address the topic of sex addiction like they do other addictions?

  • Indications are mixed.

  • Sex addiction first became known as a term in the 1970s as members of Alcoholics Anonymous

  • tried to apply their twelve-step program to those struggling with compulsive infidelity,

  • but many people still argue over the classification of the disorder.

  • Some worry about the risks of classifying sexual activity as a disorder and argue that

  • it could be used to stigmatize people with healthy, active sex drives.

  • Others argue that it's not an addiction at all but rather a form of compulsive behavior

  • and should be treated differently.

  • But even as the controversy persists, the disorder becomes more well known.

  • Movies like Shame, Diary of a Sex Addict, and Don Jon helped to raise awareness and

  • give people compassion for those troubled by the disorder.

  • The number of support groups is growing, and those seeking help for sex addiction are finding

  • more people who have battled the disorder to welcome them as they start their own fight.

  • For more on strange sexual behavior, check outThe Craziest Things People Are Attracted

  • Toor check out this video instead.

Addiction.

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What Is Sex Addiction?

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/01/12
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