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Understanding Sex Addiction Symptoms

Unravel the truth behind desires that are impacting your life
Living in an era where sex is a common topic, it's easy to overlook the fact that what is normal for some can become an unhealthy obsession for others. At Miracles Asia, we offer guests a judgement free space where the root cause of their addiction can be uncovered and addressed.
Home » Behavioral Addictions & Abuse » Sex Addiction & Abuse » Sex Addiction Signs & Symptoms

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Also known as sexual addiction, sex addiction is a major problem often swept under the carpet in today's oversexualized society. After all, everybody engages in sexual acts, and sex itself is necessary to continue the human race.

However, some individuals may develop unhealthy sexual habits, which with time, can turn into compulsive sexual behavior that can ruin their life and the lives of their loved ones, just like substance abuse would. But how exactly can you know if you're a sex addict, and what steps should you take to break free from these unhealthy sexual impulses?

These are the questions we will answer in this article, among many others.
Key Takeaways
Sex addiction is a major, often overlooked problem in today's society. It's not just about high libidos, it can ruin lives just like any substance abuse.
While most reported sex addicts are men, a significant number of women also struggle with this disorder.
Chronic feelings of shame, guilt, and fear due to sex addiction can lead to serious mental health issues like depression and heightened anxiety.

What is Sex Addiction?

Although it is not included in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," a leading psychiatry handbook used to identify addiction disorders, sex addiction is undoubtedly a very real problem affecting countless people worldwide.

In simplest terms, it can be understood as a compulsive drive toward sexual behaviors that provide a release, "fix," or a high that one would normally associate with substance addiction. Sex addicts often struggle to maintain healthy personal relationships, and in the long term, their compulsive behaviors can lead to a severe deterioration of their mental health.

Unfortunately, due to its murky status in psychiatry, many cases of sex addiction remain undiagnosed, with those addicted to sex unable to get the help they need. However, if you suspect yourself or a loved one of this addiction, you should know that help is still available, including inpatient sex addiction treatment. This phenomenon is widely discussed in psychological and psychiatric circles, and plenty of specialists have devoted their lives to studying it and helping sex addicts.

What's the Difference Between Porn and Sex Addiction?

While they're two branches of the same tree, sex and porn addiction are different disorders. They shouldn't be treated similarly to maximize a person's chances of breaking free.

Sex addiction comprises a wide set of behaviors and compulsions, and porn addiction is one of them. However, you don't need to be addicted to porn to be considered a sex addict. Lumping these disorders in the same bag is a dangerous oversimplification, and it may result in negative consequences, despite being borne out of good intentions.

Porn addicts are sex addicts, that's for sure, but not all sex addicts are necessarily addicted to porn. Sexual urges come in different forms, and how you act upon them determines the type of sex addiction you're dealing with.

How to Figure Out If You're a Sex Addict?

Now that you know the basic definition of sex addiction, you might wonder about the best way to identify it in yourself or someone close to you. There is no foolproof checklist for diagnosing addiction to sex. Still, the five factors outlined below can provide a useful framework for identifying a destructive dependence on various sexual activities.


Sex addicts often feel they have no control over their behaviors and lack the willpower and energy to change their actions. As a result, it is often described as your addiction "living your life for you," much like in the case of alcohol and opioid addiction, where the drive to obtain these substances is stronger than any other desire you may have.

Personal Relationships and Professional Life

Any addiction can damage your relations with the people in your personal life and at work. For example, if you find that your sexual fantasies and behaviors cause you to be unable to emotionally connect to your partner, fail to fulfill responsibilities at work, or push you further away from your friends and family members, you may be dealing with sex addiction.

Shame and Embarrassment

Addicts are not people without a moral compass. They know very well that their abnormal behavioral patterns damage themselves and others. Still, they simply have no control over them. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed of your compulsive sexual behavior is another giveaway sign of an addiction.

Desire for Change

The shame, embarrassment, and powerlessness you feel because of your sexual cravings might drive you to strongly desire change. However, you return to the same behaviors no matter how hard you try. The overwhelming willingness to change, but an inability to do so is a common sign of any substance based or behavioral addiction.

Unhealthy Obsession

Do you have obsessive sexual thoughts to the point where they intrude on your other activities? 

One thing that most sexual addictions have in common is the fact that the addict's mind is constantly preoccupied with sexual thoughts and fantasies, making it difficult to focus on anything else, at least until their desires are acted upon.

Symptoms of Sexual Addiction

We've already touched upon some sex addiction symptoms in the previous section, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. Sex addiction exhibits itself in a myriad of different ways.

While most sex addicts are reportedly men, a fair share of women struggle with this disorder, too. The sex addiction symptoms in females are largely similar to those identified in males, though, as there is nothing gender-specific about them.

Emotional Signs

In the case of sex addiction, the emotional symptoms are likely to reveal themselves long before the physical ones. Sex addicts may struggle with setting healthy emotional boundaries in their relationships as they start to feel afraid of being abandoned and alone with their compulsions. Other common emotional symptoms of sex addiction include strong guilt, loneliness, and constant fear of exposure.

Physical Signs

As opposed to stimulants, opiates, or alcohol addiction, sex addicts often don't exhibit any physical signs of their disorder. Of course, that is not to say that your sex addiction can't have negative physical consequences. Soon enough, you might feel the strain on your genitals as they become sore or chafed due to abnormally frequent sexual activities.

People addicted to sex often engage in risky behaviors such as engaging with prostitutes or having sexual encounters with strangers, which carries the risk of getting infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Harmful Effects of Sex Addiction

The negative consequences of compulsive sexual behavior are far-reaching and get more serious the longer you leave your addiction untreated.

STDs and unwanted pregnancies are some of the most obvious short-term effects of sex addiction. Still, there are also long-term repercussions you should be aware of, and they include:
Damaged Relationships
Sex addiction affects the partners, friends, or family as much as the addicts themselves. You may isolate yourself from the people close to you to the point where they might choose to stop being involved with you altogether.

Lower Productivity At Work
Obsessive sexual thoughts and compulsive behaviors will inevitably lead to your performance at work dropping off a lot below the expected levels. It is not unheard of for sex addicts to get fired due to addiction derailing their productivity.

Mental Health Issues
The strong feelings of shame and guilt, coupled with the fear of abandonment and getting exposed, can lead to the development of serious mental health conditions, including clinical depression.

Heightened Anxiety
You may feel anxious more often than usual due to your sex addiction. This is because of the constant need for a sexual release and the negative emotions mentioned above contributing to your increased anxiety levels.

Substance abuse
Sex addicts often turn to alcohol abuse and recreational drugs to deal with the negative emotions and strained relationships resulting from their destructive behavior.

How to Treat Sex Addiction?

While not officially diagnosable, sex addiction can be treated in a wide variety of ways, such as:
Group therapy.
Marriage counseling.
Cognitive behavioral therapy.
12-step program (the Alcoholics Anonymous method).
Inpatient treatment.
It is important to remember that you don't have to face sex addiction alone. Plenty of support groups can provide a trustworthy outlet for your emotions and help you break free, such as Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, or Sexual Compulsives Anonymous.

Get the Help You Need and Deserve From Miracles Asia

Sex addiction can significantly impact one's life to the point where you may feel like there is no escape. However, no matter how bad your situation gets, you're never hopeless. There is always a way out.

At Miracles Asia, we specialize in treating all sorts of processes and substance addictions at our residential facilities in Phuket, Thailand. With the help of our mental health professional & support staff that will attend to your every need, you'll have everything you need to begin living a life free of addiction.

We won't leave you hanging after you return home, either. Through our comprehensive Aftercare and Relapse Prevention program, you'll be kept in touch with a mental health professional for two months after leaving Thailand and other Miracles Asia alumni for as long as you need.

If you're ready to take the next step toward recovery, contact us, and we will provide you with more detailed information about your potential treatment plan and our residential facilities.

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