While s*x addiction may have been around for a long time, it seems that in recent years we hear more and more about it. It may be that it is starting to be recognized as a real addiction rather than being dismissed as an issue of a person who does not control their impulses because of low or lack of morals.
The other issue with the addiction is that while a person who has an addiction could display undesirable behavior, it can be difficult to tell if someone is displaying the behavior but does not actually have the addiction.
S*xual addiction is best described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive s*xual thoughts and acts. Like all addictions, its negative impact on the addict and on family members increases as the disorder progresses. Over time, the addict usually has to intensify the addictive behavior to achieve the same results.
For some s*x addicts, behavior does not progress beyond compulsive masturbation or the extensive use of pornography or phone or computer s*x services. For others, addiction can involve illegal activities such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, child molestation or rape.
S*x addicts do not necessarily become s*x offenders. Moreover, not all s*x offenders are s*x addicts. Roughly 55 percent of convicted s*x offenders can be considered s*x addicts.
About 71 percent of child molesters are s*x addicts. For many, their problems are so severe that imprisonment is the only way to ensure society’s safety against them.
Society has accepted that s*x offenders act not for s*xual gratification, but rather out of a disturbed need for power, dominance, control or revenge, or a perverted expression of anger. More recently, however, an awareness of brain changes and brain reward associated with s*xual behavior has led us to understand that there are also powerful s*xual drives that motivate s*x offenses.
The National Council on S*xual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined s*xual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of s*xual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” In other words, a s*x addict will continue to engage in certain s*xual behaviors despite facing potential health risks, financial problems, shattered relationships or even arrest.