For some people, being called a sex addict is like being awarded a badge of honor. For others it is a living nightmare. It’s easy to be light-hearted when discussing sex addiction but in many cases it can be dangerous to underestimate the impact it can have on your life.

Sexual addiction is generally described as behavior outside the norm in which sexual activity becomes a dominant presence in a person’s thinking.

In our society someone who has a reputation of being a ‘sex addict’ can become a figure of fun or, in some cases, someone to be admired or emulated. But these attitudes mask an underlying problem of which sex addicts may be all too aware.

David Duchovny © by greginhollywood

Any addiction, whether it involves drugs, gambling or sex can become a major issue in anyone’s life. Far from being humorous, sex addicts can become driven by a singular obsession to engage in any one of a number of sexual practices such as frequent masturbation, engaging in sexual affairs with multiple partners or excessive use of pornography.

Sometimes, this addiction can damage personal relationships and even progress to more socially unacceptable practices such as exhibitionism and unhealthy sexual risk-taking and even sexual harassment.

Although sex addiction is a progressive compulsive disorder, not all sex addicts go beyond frequent masturbation or utilizing Internet pornography. It is only in a minority of cases that the addiction progresses to a more dangerous phase which can involve more socially unacceptable behavior.

The causes of sexual addiction are still largely a mystery to psychiatrists. It is widely believed however that specific biochemical activity in the brain is a major part of the root cause. It is because of this that antidepressant drugs are so successful in suppressing sex addiction. This model can also explain how seemingly competent and intelligent people can be overtaken by chemical changes in their brains that stimulate the need for sexual activity.

In fact, modern theorists liken the behavior to eating disorders where the brain releases chemicals that generate a euphoric state when sufferers of food disorders consume large amounts of food. In the same way sex addicts experience a sense of gratification whenever they engage in sexual behavior.

However not all addictions can be treated by a regime of drugs. Behavioral psychologists have highlighted the fact that family background can also have a lot to do with sex addiction. Sex offenders often have a recurring pattern of a dysfunctional upbringing where sexual abuse and lack of caring is a recurring theme.

In this vein, a number of treatment programs are available to sex addicts which attack the problem from a behavioral perspective. This type of treatment involves mapping out the core reasons for specific sexual addictions and then developing strategies individually tailored towards a successful recovery. More often than not, sex addicts come to understand the types of self-deception patterns they have adopted, and once this realization is reached solutions seem to be more easily attained.