Sex Addiction a Real Thing

Is Sex Addiction a Real Thing?

Sex addiction can refer to a range of behaviors which may be done in excess and significantly impact a person’s life in a negative way. Learn more about what constitutes sex addiction and how to identify some signs and symptoms.


Porn versus Sex Addiction

Porn addiction and sexual addiction are not considered the same disorder. They are defined in the following ways:


  • Pornography addiction: type of sexual addiction which manifests itself differently than other sex addictions and is not an official DSM-5 diagnosis. It may lead to serious distress and life consequences
  • Sexual addiction: known as hypersexual disorder, characterized by persistent and escalating sexual thoughts and acts which have a negative impact on individual’s life



Different Types of Sexual Addiction

No distinct categories exist to define the different types of sexual addiction but different forms of sexual addiction exist including:

  • Pornography
  • Prostitution
  • Masturbation or fantasy
  • Sadistic or masochistic behavior
  • Exhibition or voyeurism
  • Other excessive sexual pursuits


Many different signs and symptoms are present which suggest possible sexually addictive behavior. Emotional and physical effects can take place but are nonetheless just as debilitating.


Emotional Symptoms

  • Unhealthy boundaries
  • Feelings of alienation, isolation, depression, anger, humiliation
  • Become overly involved with others sexually or emotionally regardless of how well the person is known
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Staying in unhealthy relationship longer than necessary
  • Jumping from relationship to relationship


Physical Symptoms

  • Feelings of immobilization due to sexual or emotional obsessions
  • Unable to let go of addiction without help


Negative Effects

A person with sexual addiction may suffer from serious negative side effects. This may include receipt or passing on of sexually transmitted disease due to promiscuity or other behaviors. Pregnancy is a very real possibility due to risky behavior. This may happen once but if the behavior continues, it is possible to experience several unwanted pregnancies as a negative consequence of sexual addiction.  Other negative impacts include:

  • Decline in personal, social, family and work relationships and engagement
  • Decreased concentration and productivity at work
  • Sexual dysfunction or STDs
  • Psychological consequences such as feelings of shame, inadequacy and emotional distress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Substance abuse


Co-occurring issues including depression, isolation or substance abuse are not all that uncommon and need to be addressed in order to help a person recover from sexual addiction. If feelings of powerlessness over the addiction increase or failure to keep promises of quitting behavior do not come to fruition, it may be time to seek professional help. There is more shame in continuing the behavior than seeking help. It is natural to feel afraid of admitting to the issue of sexual addiction but the sooner the first step of admitting a problem exists is taken, the more quickly help can be delivered and recovery can begin.


If you’re exhibiting any of the symptoms of possible sexual addiction, there is no shame in seeking help. Addiction treatment programs are quite successful for individuals with sexual addiction who are ready to get well. Call us to find out how we can support your journey to healing and recovery from sexual addiction.