Sex addiction can refer to a range of behaviors that are done in excess and significantly impact one’s life in a negative way.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM-5) does not list sex addiction as a diagnosable condition yet, but research indicates that there is a clear prevalence of adverse sexual behavior that is similar in development to a “chemical” addiction.
Porn addiction and sex addiction are not the same disorder. Addiction to porn is considered to be a type of sex addiction and can manifest itself differently than other types of sex addiction. Like “sex addiction,” “porn addiction” is not an official diagnosis in the DSM-5 yet. However, an addiction to porn can lead to serious distress and consequences in many facets of life.
There are no distinct categories, but sexual addictions can come in different forms, including addiction to:
- Masturbation or fantasy.
- Sadistic or masochistic behavior.
- Other excessive sexual pursuits.
Although a sex addiction or pornography addiction can create many physical side effects, few physical symptoms of this disorder exist. However, the most common physical sex addict symptoms you might notice from having a sexual addiction is feeling immobilized due to sexual or emotional obsessions.
If you or someone you love suffers from a sex addiction, you might not have healthy boundaries. If your husband is addicted to porn or sex, you may feel alienated, isolated, depressed, angry, or humiliated and need treatment yourself. If you are addicted to sex, you might become easily involved with people sexually or emotionally regardless of how well you know them, according to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. Because most sex addicts fear being abandoned, they might stay in relationships that aren’t healthy, or they may jump from relationship to relationship. When alone, they might feel empty or incomplete. They might also sexualize feelings like guilt, loneliness or fear.
The effects of a sex addiction can be severe.
- According to Departmental Management of the USDA, about 38% of men and 45% of women with sex addictions have a venereal disease as a result of their behavior.
- Pregnancy is also a common side effect that can occur due to risky behavior. In one survey, nearly 70% of women with sex addictions reported they’d experienced at least one unwanted pregnancy as a result of their addiction.
Additionally, sex addiction likely has a negative impact on several areas of one’s life. It can lead to:
- A decline in personal relationships, social, and family engagement.
- Decreased concentration and productivity at work.
- Physical consequences like sexual dysfunction or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
It can have profound psychological effects, like generating feelings of shame, inadequacy, and emotional distress. It can lead to, or stem from, comorbid psychological disorders like:
- Substance abuse.
- Problems related to impulse control and emotion dysregulation.
- Obsessive-Compulsive type symptoms.
It is important to know that addressing co-occurring problems in one’s life, like depression, social anxiety, or social isolation, can make it easier to recover from sexual addiction.