“…if you continue objectifying the physical act of sex it means that you continue to make sex more about compulsive behavior and bodies, rather than intimacy.” ~George Collins and Andrew Adleman, Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsession, and Shame Sex addiction is REAL – between 12 and 30 million people in the United States suffer from sexual addiction. Despite the adolescent tittering, compulsive sexual behavior destroys lives – divorce, broken homes, depression, and the cycle of shame and remorse. When does healthy interest in a pleasurable, natural activity – sex – turn into an obsessive, unhealthy addiction? To help you answer that question, we have compiled a list of questions that you can ask. Your honest answers will tell you if you might need help.
What Is Sexual Addiction?
As with any other addictive behavior, sexual addiction is engaging in compulsive behaviors despite negative consequences. If you have a sex addiction, it means you have lost control over your sexual behaviors, and as a result, your life has become unmanageable.
What Are Some Common Behaviors of a Sex Addict?
Sexual preferences are, by nature, unique to the individual. But when the behavior becomes compulsive, abusive, disruptive, or victimizes others, it may be a sign of sexual addiction:
- Compulsive masturbation
- Serial infidelity
- Multiple one-night stands
- Anonymous sex
- Failure to practice safe sex
- Use of a prostitute or a “massage parlor”
- Engaging in prostitution
- Sexual harassment
- Obsession with pornography
- Preoccupation with online dating sites, especially those that are sexual in nature
Some Startling Statistics about Sexual Addiction
If you’re wondering just how real and widespread the problem of sex addiction in America is, all you have to do is look at some eye-opening statistics:
- The porn industry generates $12 BILLION in sales annually.
- “Sex” is the #1 most-searched-for topic online.
- Over half of all online spending is related to sexual activity.
- Every day, 30 MILLION Americans look at pornography online.
- Two-thirds of all men ages 18-34 view online pornography at least once per month.
- 1 out of every 3 men self-report being addicted to porn.
- 25 MILLION Americans visit a cyber-sex site between 1-10 hours weekly, while nearly 5 MILLION more spend more than 11 hours per week.
- 70% of online porn traffic occurs during the 9-to-5 workday.
- 25% of people with Internet access at work look at pornography while on the job.
- 1 out of every 8 websites is pornographic in nature.
- Every day, two-and-a-half BILLION pornographic e-mails are sent.
- 15% of those who habitually view pornography develop disruptive sexual behaviors.
- Almost half of all families report that pornography is a problem within their homes.
- Nearly one-third of people surveyed say that their partner’s use of pornography makes them feel like a “sexual object”.
- The average male sex addict has had 32 partners.
- The average female sex addict has had 22 partners.
- Three-fourths of all sex addicts have used Skype to have video sex online.
- 98% of sex addicts have had phone sex.
- 75% of individuals with sex addiction regularly post naked pictures of themselves online.
- 70% of married sex addicts have convinced their spouse to engage in “swinging”.
- 55% of registered sex offenders are sex addicts.
- 71% of child molesters are sex addicts.
Because there is no medical test for sex addiction, the primary way to determine the issue is by a series of yes-or-no questions that can be highly indicative of an existing problem.
- Were you abused/molested when you were younger?
- Would you say that your parents had trouble with sexual behavior?
- Are you often preoccupied with thoughts of a sexual nature?
- Does your sexual desire control you?
- Do you feel that your sexual desire is stronger than you are?
- Sex almost all you think about?
- Do you ever feel that your sexual activity is not normal?
- Do you ever feel guilty or ashamed about your sexual behavior?
- Do you feel degraded about your sexual behavior?
- Do you feel depressed after sex?
- Do you hide any of your sexual activity or behaviors, especially from your spouse/partner?
- Does your sexual behavior cause problems for you or your family?
- Have you ever sought help for your sexual behavior?
- Have you ever tried to quit a particular type of sexual activity but failed?
- Have you ever tried to quit parts of your sexual activity but failed?
- Have you ever hurt someone emotionally because of your sexual behavior?
- Have you neglected other important parts of your life – job, family, friends, etc. – because of sex?
- Do you use sex or sexual fantasies to escape from your other problems?
- Are Internet pornographic and dating sites causing problems for you?
- Do you spend an inordinate amount of time online for sexual purposes?
- Do you spend a large amount of time online specifically searching for porn?
- Do you spend money online for sexual purposes – pornography subscriptions, adult dating sites, etc.?
- Have you used sites like Tinder for Adult Friend Finder to make erotic connections with others?
- Has anyone close to you expressed concern about your online sexual behavior?
- Have you tried to change your online sexual behavior but failed?
- Have you had sex or sexual contact with minors?
- Do you regularly purchase pornographic magazines, videos, or erotic novels?
- Have you used pornographic materials to stimulate yourself, even when you are at risk of being caught by your children or by family members who would be upset?
- Have you maintained multiple romantic/sexual relationships simultaneously?
- Have you stayed in an emotionally abusive relationship, just for the sex?
- Has your need for casual or anonymous sex interfered with your ability to form real, long-term intimate relationships?
- Do you regularly engage in sadomasochistic sexual activity?
- As part of your regular sexual activity, do you visit sex clubs, adult book/video stores, or sexual bathhouses?
- Do you regularly engage in unsafe, unprotected sex?
- Have you cruised public rest areas, parks, or restrooms looking for anonymous sex with strangers?
- Does your sexual behavior put you at risk for an arrest for public indecency or lewdness?
- Do you use the services of prostitutes?
- Have you ever accepted gifts or been paid for sex?
- Are any of your sexual activities unlawful?
- Has sex become the most important thing in your life?
- Are you in crisis or despair because of sex?
If you find that you have answered “yes” to more than six of these questions, it may be an indication that you need to talk to a trusted, licensed mental health professional who specializes in the treatment of sexual addiction disorders.
What Can Be Done for Sex Addiction?
The majority of sex addicts will benefit from a combination of professional counseling, peer support groups, and prescription medication:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – identifying triggers for dysfunctional sexual behavior, reconditioning distorted sexual thoughts, and learning how to substitute healthier ways of thinking and acting
- Fellowship Groups – structured support from recovery groups such as Sexaholics Anonymous or Sex Addicts Anonymous
- Medications – Prescription drugs that are commonly used to treat anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder can decrease the compulsions associated with sexual addiction – Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Luvox, or Lexapro.
Here’s the bottom line – like any other addiction such as alcoholism, drug abuse, or gambling, problematic compulsive sexual behavior can be treated. It takes hard work, patience, and a strong support system, but it is possible to recover and regain a healthy sex life that is truly fulfilling.