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A Guide to Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is defined as compulsive sexual behavior or hypersexuality. Sex addiction can be a hazard to one’s health, relationships, social life, and even their livelihood. Fortunately, sex addiction can be treated before a person experiences some of the dangerous consequences that often come with it. 


Sex Is Healthy


Like all things, sex is healthy in moderation. Sexual intercourse is a natural process experienced by most living creatures. Humans are not even the only species to engage in sex recreationally. Most mammals and some species of birds and reptiles have been observed having sex for recreation rather than mating. The purpose of using sex recreationally can be for many reasons, including experiencing an orgasm or experiencing closeness. Ultimately, sex and sexual relationships are healthy, and there is no need for shame or stigma to surround an appropriate sex life. 


When It Becomes Sex Addiction


Sex addiction comes into play when a person’s sex life becomes unhealthy. There can be serious consequences for certain sexual addictions or fetishes, so it is important to communicate with a doctor or therapist if you are worried about your own or a loved one’s sexual tendencies or fantasies. 


Sex addiction affects a person’s life in many ways and can take precedence over important things like work, family commitments, school, and more. According to the medical journal Psychiatry, the characterizations of sex addiction can be divided into two groups — paraphilic and non-paraphilic.


Paraphilic Behaviors


Paraphilic behaviors are sexual behaviors that lie outside the conventional range of sexual behaviors. Some are classified as clinical disorders, but others exist that have not been formally classified as clinical disorders. Many paraphilic behaviors are illegal and can have severe negative consequences if acted out, especially without a partner’s consent (for example, children are legally unable to consent). 


Examples of paraphilic behaviors include:


  • Exhibitionism – A compulsion for displaying one’s genitals in public
  • Voyeurism – A compulsion for watching others in sexual situations
  • Pedophilia – A compulsion for sexual gratification from children
  • Sexual masochism – A compulsion or desire for one’s own pain or humiliation for sexual gratification
  • Sexual sadism – A compulsion for inflicting physical or psychological terror or pain on another person for sexual gratification
  • Transvestic fetishism – A compulsion for cross-dressing purely for sexual gratification (not cross-dressing due to gender identity)
  • Fetishism – Sexual attraction to an object or body part to an abnormal degree
  • Frotteurism – A compulsion to rub one’s genitals on another person without their consent for sexual gratification
  • Gerontophilia – A compulsion for sexual gratification from elderly individuals
  • Necrophilia – A compulsion for sexual gratification from corpses
  • Zoophilia – A compulsion for sexual gratification from animals


Non-Paraphilic Behaviors


Non-paraphilic behaviors are common sexual behaviors and practices that become a compulsory addiction. These can include compulsory attendance at strip clubs, extramarital affairs, paying for sex, excessive use of pornography, compulsive masturbation, compulsive sex with multiple partners, and more. Non-paraphilic behavior addictions become a problem when they are causing issues in a person’s personal life, take precedence over family and work commitments, and/or involve dangerous or risky environments and situations.


Treatment for Sex Addiction


Much like any other addiction, there are treatment options to help those who suffer from sex addiction. Before treatment, sex addiction must first be diagnosed properly. A doctor will typically consider the patient’s family history, mental health, childhood, and current or past sex life. This can help the doctor rule out any mental health concerns that may have led to a perceived sex addiction. Once the doctor reaches a diagnosis, they can determine the best path for sex addiction treatment.


According to research published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, there are several widely-used therapies for sexual addiction that can help a person recover.

  • Psychodynamic therapy: A form of talk therapy based on how the person looks at and connects with the outside world
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: A form of therapy that examines and challenges the person’s thoughts and behaviors to improve their mental health
  • Group therapy: A form of therapy where one can talk in a large group setting to alleviate stigma and form a sense of community
  • Individual therapy: A form of therapy that involves one-on-one communication with a therapist
  • Family/couples therapy: A form of therapy that helps families and couples communicate in a safe space to work out their issues 
  • Pharmacotherapy: Medication prescriptions are provided by a doctor, often as an accompanying treatment for co-occurring therapy
  • Support groups: There are groups dedicated to sex addiction to help and support a person’s success in recovery. Many operate like a 12-Step group and have regular meetings. Support groups can help alleviate the shame and stigma that often accompanies sex addiction.


Seeking treatment for sex addiction can feel scary, especially with the stigma often attached to sexual desires and behaviors. Although sex in itself is healthy and sexual desire is completely normal, there are some cases of hypersexuality where a person crosses the line into addiction. Here at RECO Intensive, we treat non-paraphilic sex addictions, such as sex and porn addiction. We want to help you change your behaviors so you can have a healthier lifestyle. At RECO Intensive, our specialized staff and experienced alumni can guide you through our treatment plan for sex and porn addiction. These treatment strategies may include psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, relationship counseling, and more. We understand that you may have co-occurring diagnoses, so we will make sure your treatment plan is catered to your specific needs. At RECO Intensive, our goal is to help you make significant lifestyle changes and learn how to live a safe and healthy life beyond sex and porn addiction. Call us today at (561) 464-6533. Let’s get back to a brighter future. 

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