Could you, or someone you know be addicted to sex? If you’re wondering, take the test (in the article below), then seek help with no shame attached.
Last Sunday afternoon, I had plenty of things on my To Do list that needed my attention, but I also really needed some good old fashioned down time. So I quickly checked my Fandango app for any movies that might interest me at the theater, but that was a total bust.
So instead, I decided to do what I rarely do, and I started scrolling through the hundreds of movie options on one of my movie subscription services. Once again, either I’d already seen the movies I knew I’d love, or nothing really seemed to perk up my interest.
After a while of mindless browsing through what seemed like an endless number of possible choices, I saw a movie that I scrolled on by, but then something made me go back to it.
The title was Addicted.
I had no idea which modern day addiction they could possibly be referring to and I guessed it was probably a very predictable story showcasing one of the big three: drugs, alcohol or gambling.
Boy, was I wrong.
The addiction was sex. And the main character was a woman. They had my attention.
The movie synopsis intrigued me because sex addition is not something talked about very often and when it is, a woman is typically not the addicted person.
As I began to watch the movie, I started thinking about this whole notion of sex addiction and wondered just how prevalent it could be in the real world.
Sexual addiction is best described as a “progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Like all addictions, its negative impact on the addict and on family members increases as the disorder progresses. Over time, the addict usually has to intensify the addictive behavior to achieve the same results.”
It is estimated that three to six percent of the general U.S. population suffers from some form of addictive sexual behavior with self or others. In 2014, the U.S. population was 319.9 million. You do the math.
Traditionally, around 85 percent of inpatient and outpatient sexual addiction patients have been adult males. However, in recent years, the number of women who also struggle with the disorder has been steadily increasing.
According to everything I read on the topic, the movie Addicted accurately portrayed the main character as her life began to spiral completely out of control under the influence of her sex addiction. I found myself sitting in my living room watching this movie, shouting at her in disbelief as she made one ridiculously irresponsible decision after another.
Those irresponsible decisions, poor judgment and risky behaviors ultimately made her lose her business, her family and almost took her life.
It’s devastating behavior, but there is no official diagnosis.
While there is still no official diagnosis for sex addiction, there is a list of symptoms created by clinicians and researchers who have studied this condition. According to Michael Herkov, Ph.D., the fact that antidepressants and other psychotropic medications have often been effective in the treatment of people with a sex addiction suggests that a true biochemical abnormality may exist.
Take a look at this list of symptoms.
- Frequently engaging in more sex and with more partners than intended.
- Being preoccupied with or persistently craving sex; wanting to cut down and unsuccessfully attempting to limit sexual activity.
- Thinking of sex to the detriment of other activities or continually engaging in excessive sexual practices despite a desire to stop.
- Spending considerable time in activities related to sex, such as cruising for partners or spending hours online visiting pornographic Web sites.
- Neglecting obligations such as work, school or family in pursuit of sex.
- Continually engaging in the sexual behavior despite negative consequences, such as broken relationships or potential health risks.
- Escalating scope or frequency of sexual activity to achieve the desired effect, such as more frequent visits to prostitutes or more sex partners.
- Feeling irritable when unable to engage in the desired behavior.
Clinicians suggest that if you identify with three or more of these criteria, you may have a sex addiction problem.
If you’re still wondering if what you or someone you know is experiencing is indeed a sexual addiction, here’s a link where you can take a very short Sexual Addiction Screening Quiz.
So you’ve read the symptoms list, you’ve taken the quiz and you are thinking that you or someone you know may be experiencing this addiction.
What is the first step?
Just like the woman in the movie, admitting that a true sex addiction exists is a big step. But if you really think you or someone you know may have a serious problem, it’s best to be honest and begin to take action before many lives suffer complete ruin.
As with any addiction, there are always addiction specialists in your area that you can trust. There are many resources online that describe sex addiction treatment program options.
It won’t be easy, but it’s necessary.
Maybe when you read those symptoms, you didn’t think of yourself, but instead, you thought of a close friend or family member whose life is spiraling out of control with risky sexual behaviors that fit the addiction profile.
There’s never anything you can do to change another person or make them want to ask for help. But being a true friend may mean that you can at least find a way to get this information in front of them the next time their sex addiction behaviors have them running to you for an alibi or cover story for their cycle of sex addiction behaviors.
Like all addictions, this one is devastating. Not only is the life of the addict eventually ruined, but the lives of many others are ruined as well. Anyone connected to him or her falls victim to their sex addiction behaviors, leaving a trail of deceit, damaged reputations, financial devastation and perhaps even death.
I know one thing for sure.
No matter what addiction any of us may be struggling with, one thing is for sure.
Life isn’t an R rated movie that has a 106 minute run time with a happy ending.
But happy endings do exist…they are there for the Making.
Photo credit: Getty Images