Sex is a healthy part of relationships and is designed to be a pleasurable experience. But for some, sex becomes a compulsive and obsessive behaviour that mimics the highs experienced by drug users. Sex addiction is characterised as a behavioural addiction, the below article explains in detail what it is, and how it can be treated.
As with all addictions, sex addiction can be quite painful and desperate. Sex impacts the neurotransmitters in the brain, as do many drugs. The same brain pathways associated with energy, focus, euphoria and craving are linked to both substance and non-substance/process addictions. Sex addiction is characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour.
The relentless pursuit of the romantic or sexual “high” can actually hinder the development of genuine intimacy with others, and so can be a very lonely experience. The driving force behind sex addiction is not any kind of hedonism, instead its roots can most often be found in lack of self-esteem and lack of self-love.
Sex and love addiction has a number of potentially devastating consequences from possible medical complications including contracting sexually transmitted diseases, to decreased performance at work due to obsessive behaviours, and to isolation and shame.
Sex addiction often accompanies preexisting psychological disorders, such as bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Childhood trauma such as sexual abuse can be a contributing factor in the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms, and relational styles, and can negatively affect the processes needed for healthy sexual behavior later in life.
Sex addiction may also develop as an attempt to self-medicate pain felt about past trauma. Experts have noted that sometimes trauma survivors may “recreate” the experiences that traumatized them. For example, someone who was sexually abused by an authority figure might later try to put themselves in a position of power within a sexual context.
By recreating the power dynamic of their abuse, they can regain a sense of control over their sexuality, though this behaviour may cause further pain and unhappiness.
Sex addiction might just be one of the least understood of all addictions. After all, it’s considered taboo to talk about sex generally speaking. However it is possible to get a better understanding of this addiction.
There are a number of Anonymous Fellowships able to support you if you are suffering with sex addiction:
The brains chemistry is a powerful thing. When the usual neural pathways get disrupted by addiction it can lead to preoccupation with sex to the exclusion of other interests. Sex addicts will compulsively engage in the sexual behaviour despite negative consequences and despite the sincere wish to stop.
Addiction can be a confusing condition to witness not least because it affects otherwise competent, healthy, intelligent, goal-directed people. It is very possible to become an addict having no other contributing disorders, because of this addiction is an equal opportunities illness.
Sex addiction is characterized by lack of control, obsession, and compulsion Sex addicts will experience the compulsion to have sex, despite negative consequences. If you are a sex addict you may also experience compulsive masturbation, compulsive pornography use. 
It is possible to experience some of these symptoms and not be a sex addict at all, if you are experiencing addiction it will likely be causing significant distress to you, and others, and disruption to your life.
You may be engaging in sex addiction despite consequences that are:
Other signs of a sex addiction include:
Sex addiction leaves you with disordered intimacy patterns. Preoccupation with sex actually creates a barrier between people. You may find yourself unable to connect intimately or even not wanting to be around people at all.
Why some people, and not others, develop an addiction to sex is poorly understood. Possibly some biochemical predisposition or other brain changes increase risk, hence the efficacy of antidepressants in treating some people with sex addiction.
Studies indicate that food, drugs, and sex share a common pathway within our brains’ reward systems. This pathway leads into the area of the brain responsible for our higher thinking, rational thought and judgment. There may be a genetic element also, those with family members who are addicts are more likely to develop addiction generally and in this case sex addiction. One study found that 80 percent of recovering sex addicts report some type of addiction in their families of origin. 
There are various treatment options available for sex addiction you may benefit from residential rehab, medication, therapy or a combination of all three.
Most residential rehab programmes require a 90 day stay. This 90 day period will provide you with enough time to get a good grounding recovery in terms of education, skills, and tools. It will provide you with time and space to process those things in your past which may have led to your addiction.
One of the most powerful things about recovering in a residential rehab setting is the community aspect of the treatment. In therapeutic communities you will help others and be helped by your peers in the programme. Rehabs provide a positive, nonjudgmental, and caring space, in which you can heal from the past and recover.
In rehab you will be able to work on:
Whilst no two addicts are the same, trauma often plays a part in developing sex and love addiction so some deep therapeutic work may be appropriate. In rehab an experienced, expert therapeutic team who can guide and support you at every step.
It can be a very powerful experience to come to realise that your unconscious processes may be driving you into painful situations. From a place of understanding and acceptance you can choose to change! This kind of uncovering and understanding is important in breaking the cycle.
In understanding how prescription and over-the-counter medications can be used in the treatment of sex addiction, it’s important to understand such medical treatments are typically designed to reduce the impulse to engage in sex. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) works by acting on neurotransmitters. SSRI’s are commonly used in the treatment of depression, it has also been used to treat panic disorder as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
SSRIs are usually the first choice medication for depression because they have fewer side effects than many other types of antidepressant. As well as depression, SSRIs can be used to treat a number of other mental health conditions, including:
SSRIs can sometimes be used to treat other conditions, such as premature ejaculation, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and to help patients cope with pain.
Therapy has proven to be very effective in the treatment of addictions. You may benefit from:
One-to-one therapy is usually a core component of any kind of rehabilitation programme. Through one-to-one sessions you will have the opportunity work through your issues privately and confidentially with a counsellor.
Group Therapy sessions are made up of a small number of your peers and are facilitated by a therapist. In this setting you will be able both support and be supported by your peers. The counsellor may also use group therapy to utilize group dynamics, and to work on communication, assertiveness, and relationship building skills.
There are various therapeutic approaches that are available for sex addiction such as:
The counselling you receive will often address not only your addiction, it will help you become healthier in every area of your life.