Sex addiction is something that comes up fairly often in media these days. Many films and TV series have portrayed characters with sex addiction. Celebrities like Kendrick Lamar and Jada Pinkett Smith have opened up about struggling with it. But many people are skeptical about whether sex addiction is a real condition.
While it is certainly unfair to diminish people’s experiences, we can’t be too hard on people for being skeptical. The fact is that all behavioral addictions have been debated by addiction experts. Sex addiction in particular is difficult to diagnose and assess as, unlike gambling addiction, it is not a behavior that we can cut out of our lives.
However, sex addiction is a very real condition. Here is why.
Sex as a coping mechanism:
Addiction doesn’t usually come about in isolation. While it is possible to become addicted to substances by using them regularly, addiction is more commonly a response to other issues. This is why the best recovery centers offer dual-diagnosis treatment. They recognize that addiction co-occurs with other mental illnesses.
It is easy to see how substances can be used to replace healthy coping mechanisms. They can numb your emotional pain or make you feel high even when you’re down. Sex is a little more complex.
But sex can be used as a coping mechanism. In some cases, people become addicted to sex because it gives them validation they are not receiving elsewhere. In other cases, it becomes a way of avoiding feeling difficult emotions like grief or guilt. Sex provides a distraction from the pain while satisfying a craving for acceptance.
Sex addiction and sexual trauma:
Sex addiction is also linked to sexual abuse and trauma. Many people who become addicted to sex have experienced sexual abuse in their past.
Kendrick Lamar shed light on his own sexual addiction as a response to accusations that his cousin sexually abused him as a child. While that sexual abuse did not occur, Lamar took the accusations as an indication that he wasn’t ‘man’ enough. Sex addiction became a way of asserting his masculinity over and over again.
For many people who experienced sexual abuse, sex addiction is also a way of trying to recreate those early experiences and overwrite them. In other words, they attempt to experience sex in a new way, often as the dominating figure themselves. This can lead to a string of unsatisfying sexual encounters, and may even lead to the person perpetuating abuse on another.
Treating sex addiction:
Sex addiction is a very real condition and should be taken seriously. It cannot be treated in exactly the same way as substance addiction, considering that there is no detox or withdrawals to manage. However, many of the behavioral and emotional treatments are relevant to sex addiction as well.
If you or a loved one may be battling sex addiction, speak to an expert today. You can begin a journey towards a life with a healthy approach to sex.