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What is Sex/Pornography Addiction?

Sex and Pornography Addiction

Sexual addiction refers to a preoccupation with sexual thoughts or sexual behavior to the extent that this preoccupation continues even though it causes substantial harm. This harm may include: 1) risky, dangerous, or unhealthy sexual behaviors; 2) damage to relationships, 3) avoidance of meaningful intimate relationships; 4) financial consequences; 5) legal consequences, or 6) a failure to fulfill important life roles such as employee, student, spouse, parent, friend, etc. Sexual addiction does not refer to any particular type of sexual behavior. Likewise, sexual addiction does not refer to a high degree of sexual desire, or frequency of sexual activity. Sexual addiction is indicated when someone experiences a reduced control over sexual behavior despite negative consequences. Ordinarily, negative consequences serve to decrease or diminish the behaviors that cause them. In the case of addictions, these behaviors continue despite negative consequences. Examples of ...More

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What is sexual/pornography addiction?

  • Sexual addiction refers to a preoccupation with sexual thoughts or sexual behavior to the extent that this preoccupation continues even though it causes substantial harm.
  • This harm may include: 1) risky, dangerous, or unhealthy sexual behaviors; 2) damage to relationships, 3) avoidance of meaningful intimate relationships; 4) financial consequences; 5) legal consequences, or 6) a failure to fulfill important life roles such as employee, student, spouse, parent, friend, etc.
  • Sexual addiction does not refer to any particular type of sexual behavior. Likewise, sexual addiction does not refer to a high degree of sexual desire, or frequency of sexual activity.
  • Sexual addiction falls into a specific category of addictions called activity addictions.
  • Sexual addiction is not a diagnostic term currently recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. Instead, clinicians use non-specific diagnostic labels such as unspecified impulsive control disorder, unspecified paraphilic disorder, or unspecified sexual dysfunction.
  • When people develop an addiction, they become addicted to the release of certain brain chemicals. It doesn't matter what causes this release of brain chemicals. It could be a drug or an activity that causes this release.
  • Like all addictions, sexual addiction causes changes to the brain\'s prefrontal cortex.

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What causes sexual/pornography?

  • There is no one single cause of sexual addiction addiction. Instead, there are multiple causes that can be grouped into four basic categories.
  • These four categories are: 1) biological causes, 2) psychological causes, 3) socio-cultural causes, and 4) spiritual causes. Psychologists call this the Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Model of addiction.
  • The biological causes of sexual addiction include each person's unique physiology and genetics. people differ in the degree to which they enjoy sex and also differ in terms of which sexual activities they enjoy.
  • Psychologically, people learn to anticipate some benefit from the addiction even though it is harmful. These benefits can include: 1) stress reduction, 2) relief from boredom, 3) pleasurable sensations, 4) coping with negative feelings or situations, or 4) simply the benefit of avoiding withdrawal symptoms.
  • Socio-cultural influences also contribute to the development of sexual addiction including freedom in the U.S., availability of pornography via the internet, and family influences.
  • Spirituality is another causal factor that can determine whether an addiction develops and flourishes.

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What are the signs and symptoms of sexual addiction?

  • Activities such as sex increase levels of dopamine in the brain in the same way that using cocaine or nicotine does. Due to the brain's reward system, people are more likely to repeat behaviors that result in the pleasurable release of Dopamine.
  • When a person continues to engage in a pleasurable activity even when negative consequences outweigh the benefits, we can begin to speak of an activity addiction. When an activity takes on a compulsive quality, we can speak of an activity addiction.
  • Sexual addiction may include behaviors that many people would not consider especially sexual or enjoyable. This may include things like dominance, control, or abuse of a partner. Some types of sexual addiction involve partners. Other types of sexual addiction include solo activity such as masturbation to pornography. Some types of sexual addiction include high levels of fantasy, which may be more important than the activity itself.
  • The collection of sexual paraphernalia, clothing or pornography can be extremely costly and secretive. This is similar to the expense of obtaining drugs or gambling.
  • Locating sexual partners, while concealing the addictive nature of sexual involvement, may require significant deception. It also reflects a degree of predatory behavior.
  • Sexual addiction is often accompanied by shame and secrecy.
  • If you wonder whether you or someone you love has a sexual addiction, get a professional evaluation.

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How is sexual addiction treated?

  • There are four basic approaches to sexual addiction treatment: Biological, Psychological, Socio-Cultural, and Spiritual.
  • People can combine these various approaches to match their individual needs and circumstances as they work to develop their own individualized, custom-tailored approach to recovery.
  • Biological approaches to addictions treatment attempt to correct or modify the presumed underlying biological causes of addiction. According to biological models of addiction, a "broken" or damaged brain causes addiction.
  • Psychological approaches to sexual addiction treatment aim to increase a person's motivation for change.
  • In addition to changing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, individuals embracing recovery may also need to restructure their social world.
  • Strengthening the motivation for recovery is very helpful. One such approach is called Motivational Interviewing.
  • There are also several effective types of psychotherapy for addictions. These are: Relapse Prevention Therapy; Contingency Management; Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy; Dialectical Behavioral Therapy; Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
  • Socio-cultural approaches to addictions recovery emphasize the important influence of social groups on individuals as they attempt to recover. These include: 1) couples and family therapy, and 2) the social support approach to addictions treatment.
  • Spiritual approaches to to sexual addiction recovery are based on research that has repeatedly demonstrated that spirituality can have a positive effect on recovery from many diseases and disorders. The most well-known spiritual approaches to addictions recovery are the 12-step support groups modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

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