All addictions come with a high level of stigma but perhaps the most maligned of all is sex addiction, which many people do not believe to be a genuine addiction despite its inclusion in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases.
It is often perceived to be an excuse for infidelity but this is far from the truth, as it regularly affects people who are not in relationships. According to a report published in Newsweek, between three and five percent of the US population is estimated to fit the criteria for this condition, including people from all walks of life.
Sex addiction is also known as ‘hypersexual disorder’ and is characterized by people spending so much time masturbating or pursuing sexual intercourse that other aspects of their life suffer as a consequence.
Time Magazine states that repetitively engaging in sexual activity whilst depressed, anxious or stressed can be considered to be an early warning sign for this form of addiction. Sufferers often remain undiagnosed for fear of being branded as promiscuous. Overcoming sex addiction is similar to getting help for drug addiction in that many addicts put it off because they are ashamed of being judged. Some sex addicts attempt to pass their behaviour off as the result of a healthy sex drive but the reality is that if untreated, it can negatively impact upon a person’s job, relationships and social life and consume his or her every waking moment.
Sex addiction is believed to be on the increase. Last year, addiction experts warned that more adolescents, females and senior citizens were in need of sex addiction rehabilitation than ever before. Treatment providers claim that one of the reasons for this is the growth of internet pornography. Whereas previous generations had to risk embarrassment at X-rated books shops and film theatres, the net has made pornography free, anonymous and accessible, widening the range of people that look at it. According to the Internet Filter Software Review, forty million US internet users log onto over four million pornographic websites every day.
Although the vast majority of these people do not develop addictions, the current theory is that this exposure to sexual content is likely to trigger addictive behaviour in those who are susceptible and act as a gateway to activities such as paying for the services of escorts or prostitutes. It can therefore be said that starting to look at more and more internet pornography is an early sign of sex addiction.
One of the main problems faced by people looking for effective sex addiction treatments is the fact that alcoholics and drug addicts are capable of cutting drugs and alcohol out of their lives for good but it is impossible to completely eliminate sexual desire. This means that people suffering from sexual hypertension need to learn to engage in sexual activity sparingly, which is easier said than done, as once they get a taste of sex they often find themselves craving more. This fact can make overcoming sex addiction Cognitive behavioural therapy has proven to be one of the best methods for helping them to overcome their addictions. It helps to alter the way they think about sex and teaches them to moderate their sexual appetite so that it is at a manageable level.
There are now an estimated one thousand five hundred sex therapists operating in America, meaning that there is help available for those who are struggling with sex addiction and want to rid themselves of it. There is also an organisation known as Sex Addicts Anonymous that arranges sex addiction groups for recovering addicts so that they can help to keep each other on the straight and narrow. Some people are too afraid of being judged to attend meetings in person, mostly notably female addicts, as there is more stigma surrounding sex addiction in women. For this reason SAA provides the option to participate in meetings via phone or the internet, which is useful if sufferers feel that they are not ready to talk to people about their condition face to face. SAA arranges men only meetings, women only meetings and mixed meetings because some members only feel that they can open up to members of the same sex and others are worried that they might be tempted by members of the opposite sex. It is important for sex addicts to remember that they are suffering from a genuine addiction that requires treatment irrespective of what people with little knowledge of the condition might believe. Overcoming sex addiction is possible.
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