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What Is Sex Addiction?

Sex Addiction: Obsession and Escape

If you’re a sex addict, you’re dealing with an escalating, obsessive preoccupation with sexual fantasy and behaviors. This means that fantasizing about sex, looking for sex, and engaging in sex have become a primary life focus. Over time, probably slowly and almost unnoticeably, you have lost control over your involvement with porn, strip clubs, prostitution, affairs, hookup apps, sensual massage, anonymous sex, casual sex, etc. As a result, you’ve damaged your romantic relationships, career, education, friendships, finances, and other life priorities.

If you’re a typical sex addict, you use the intensity of sexual fantasy and behaviors to escape (to avoid feeling) emotional discomfort – stress, anxiety, loneliness, depression, shame, boredom, and the like. You use sex to escape from life the same way drug addicts and alcoholics use substances. This means that sex addiction, as we see with alcoholism and drug addiction (and other behavioral addictions), is less about the actual behavior and more about emotional stability, self-soothing, and escape.

What Sex Addiction Looks Like

It’s highly likely that when active in your addiction you spend hours, perhaps even days at a time in an emotionally elevated state of sexual fantasy and pursuit. This state is sometimes referred to as “the bubble” or “the trance.” It is this, rather than actually engaging in sex, that provides the escapist “high” of your addiction. In fact, engaging in sex until you reach orgasm actually ends the high – pushing you back into the stress, anxiety, and other forms of emotional discomfort that triggered your addiction in the first place.

It’s also likely that you feel a lot of shame and guilt about your sexual life, and that you keep most of your sexual fantasies and behaviors secret – even from the people who matter most in your life. You keep your sex life compartmentalized in this way to hide it and protect it, and to stop yourself from drowning in shame. This is exhausting and depressing, and it leads to social and emotional isolation, fractured self-image, diminished self-esteem, and numerous other psychological and emotional issues.

The Official Sex Addiction Diagnosis

Sex addiction is formally defined by the World Health Organization in the International Classification of Diseases (the ICD-11) as Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder. Individuals with this issue require expert evaluation and treatment, such as that provided by Seeking Integrity. Sex addiction is a puzzle that no one solves without support, direction, and accountability. So please, let us help you.

If you think you or a loved one might suffer from sex addiction or porn addiction, we suggest you take this anonymous 25-question sex and porn addiction screening test. You can also contact us with questions via email or phone us at (747) 234-4325 (HEAL).

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