There are many things to which an individual can become addicted. While we tend to associate addiction with alcohol and drug dependency, there are actually a number of behavioral addiction that individual can develop and which can be just as harmful or destructive as chemical addictions. Some of the most well-known behavioral addictions include gambling addiction, exercise addiction, food and eating addiction, and sex addiction, each of which can have a profound effect on many aspects of an individual’s life. In particular, sex addiction has been a hot topic of discussion among addiction and recovery professionals with some being unsure of whether it constitutes an actual addiction. The following will define sex addiction and discuss how individuals who suffer from this form of dependency, including individuals in need of dual-diagnosis support, can find help and treatment.
Sex & Love Addiction: Same Disease, Different Drug
Sex addiction is characterized by a very similar effect as experienced by alcoholics and drug addicts with the reward and pleasure pathways in the brain being activated as a result of participating in sexual experiences. However, as they begin to participate in more sexual activities in order to feel physical and mental pleasure, the body develops a sort of tolerance to sexual activity, resulting in a sex addict needing to have increasingly frequent sexual experiences in order to satisfy his or her urges and cravings. In essence, sex addiction works in an almost identical manner as alcoholism and drug addiction, but in the case of sex addiction the addict’s drug of choice is actually sexual experiences rather than a chemical substance.
However, sex addiction has been controversial because there are a number of other compulsions that could potentially explain sex addiction as well as other conditions for which heightened sexuality is a symptom. One argument is that sex addiction is actually a form of impulse control disorder; however, sex addiction differs from impulse control disorders in that individuals develop a tolerance and the sexual activity becomes required for the body to maintain adequate production of neurochemicals. Additionally, some have suggested that sex addiction is actually an addiction to love and affection with sex being simply a means of expression those emotions; as such, sex addiction is often considered the broad term for a condition that involves both an addiction to sex as well as an addiction to love.
Overcoming Addiction to Sex & Love with Recovery Treatment
In terms of love addiction, individuals who become addicted to love have frequently had experiences that cause them to fear abandonment and rejection with a history of being abandoned by primary caregivers being the most common. A common misconception is that love addicts are concerned only with romantic love; however, the addiction is usually to any type of love, including love between friends, children and parents, and familial love. An important part of overcoming love addiction requires the love addict to admit his or her addiction and receive counseling and psychotherapy to determine what feelings and/or prior experiences has contributed to the love addiction.
When people have sexual intercourse or share a strong bond of affection, the brain produces phenylethylamine (PEA), a brain chemical implicated in the euphoria involved in intimacy, love, and sexual arousal. Like the surge of dopamine and serotonin experienced from the abuse alcohol or drugs, a sex addict experiences a surge of phenylethylamine in addition to the feel-good neurochemicals, resulting in the reinforcement of sexual behavior. Sex addicts can receive much the same treatments as those offered to individuals addicted to alcohol or drugs. When a sex addict enters treatment, he or she must be sexually abstinent while participating in a that consists of regimen of counseling, psychotherapy, group treatment, and other offerings of a recovery program.
However, unlike other types of addiction where individuals will become permanently abstinent from a substance that is harmful, sex is a healthy and natural part of the human condition. Therefore, treatment will help individuals learn how to express their sexuality with it having a negative effect on other aspects of their lives. Additionally, it’s important for individuals to receive professional, medication treatment for sex addiction due to the high rates of comorbidity of sex addiction. In particular, individuals suffering from sex and love addiction have been found to also suffer from depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at higher-than-average rates. As such, it’s important for such individuals to receive sex and love addiction treatment that incorporates dual-diagnosis support, ensuring that all of an individual’s treatment needs are met
Make Your Way to a Happy, Healthy Life with Recovery Hub
Sex addiction may not seem as severe as alcoholism and drug addiction, but it can have a profoundly negative effect on one’s life. Fortunately, there are a number of addiction treatment programs available to help sex and love addicts regain their independence. If you or someone you love is suffering from sex addiction or some other type of addiction and would benefit from learning more about treatment, call Recovery Hub today at 1-888-220-4352. With a free consultation and assessment from one of our recovery specialists, you can begin the journey back to happiness, health, and fulfillment with Recovery Hub.