We, humans, are social animals. We have a brain, and we use that to behave according to the norms of society. Almost all the time, we think rationally and try to be presentable and keep on suppressing our desires and wants in our subconscious mind, sometimes knowingly and even unknowingly. The suppressed desires clog our unconscious, and they find different ways for their outlet. One of the outlets is a dream sequence, and the other becomes a form of addiction.
The desire we suppress the most is sex and sexual addiction. Sex is our basic psychological need besides hunger and thirst. We all need to fulfill our needs as they drive our behavior.
Most of the time, the term ‘Sex Addiction’ has been a part of controversies. Nevertheless, the term “sex addiction” means forceful engagement into sexual intercourse even after knowing the negatives consequences. Moreover, within an umbrella concept, it is also called hypersexual disorder.
Sex addiction is one of the many sex-related problems. In this, people are unable to control their sexual urges, behaviors, manners, or thoughts. The thing to keep in mind is that sex addiction does not mean the number of time a person has sex but as said earlier, the compulsive sex drive.
The power of sex is not something to be underestimated. The amount of sexual pleasure a person feels during sexual intercourse is quite intoxicating and tremendous.
People who have been addicted to sex do not find the same pleasure or gratification in any other activity. They feel the incredible rush for sex or sexual euphoria, and over time, it becomes stronger and stronger, leading to a kind of obsession.
Who are the people to get addicted to sex?
Studies show that people with sexual addiction show some characteristics in common which are as follows : they are afraid of intimate relationships, they often masturbate, visit prostitutes to engage in sex, voyeurism, they have non-intimate behaviors, and they always feel lack of sex, no matter how much they have been engaged in sex.
The people who are addicted to sex are intoxicated with euphoria. In their brain, a race of hormones and chemical is continuously taking place, especially of the chemical dopamine. They are mostly addicted to the idea of sex or sexual arousal, also known as the ‘erotic haze.’ To get over with this arousal, they indulge in some powerful activity, that is, obsessive sexual behavior. The flow of dopamine is generally a mood changer for them, which goes beyond their voluntary control.
In addition to this, sex is more like an intrinsic reward, and the sudden chronic and extra activation of specific pathways or nerves within this reward system. Accumulation of a protein in the brain called for in the striatum activates the sexual urges, which act as a positive reinforcer in this intrinsic reward.
The protein fob has been found to play the most significant gene transcription, or, in other words, it plays a vital role in the addiction. In humans, it is found that the dysregulation of the chemical dopamine is accompanied by the behavior of forced sex, and this forced sex is induced by a drug (chemicals within the brain and not external). This does not result in sex addiction but also other activities like gambling. This behavior is also seen in individuals who have been consuming dopaminergic medications.
Though the thing to be kept in mind is that enjoying sexual activity is not sex addiction. Enjoying sex is normal and is a healthy activity. Moreover, if two partners who are engaged in sex or sexual intercourse may differ at the level of their interest with which they enjoy sex, this too. This does not fall under the category of sex addiction.
- Justifying wrong behaviors with lies.
- Obsessive sexual thoughts and desires.
- Inability to stop or control behaviors.
- Putting oneself or others at risk for just for the sake of sexual desires.
- Personal or professional negative consequences.
- Being engulfed by the feeling of remorse or guilt after sexual intercourse.
People with sex addiction also sometimes become skilled in controlling their feelings and are also successful in hiding their thoughts and emotions from their friends, family and even spouses or partners, but in fulfilling their desire, they may take some unwanted steps like indulging in sex with unknowns or getting into sexual intercourse at unknown places. Furthermore, behaviors like these may also result in the straining of relationships like with the stress of infidelity.
Society and Culture on sex addiction
The society has always looked down upon people with various problems, and so it has become like a habit of an addicted person to keep hiding their flaws from society. This manifests the problem and does not solve it. The problem could not be cured if the victims or sufferers don’t open up about it. When it comes to this matter that is of ‘sex’ or ‘sex addiction’ it has always been controversial. The word “sex” is restrained from using openly as if it’s a crime. The ‘taboo’ of “sex” still exists in our society.
If society truly wants to benefit the people who are suffering and reduce their problems. The first and foremost thing the society should do is to appreciate their flaws and accept them, and not restrict them from society. The people in every society ( particularly Indian, because the taboo still exists mainly for Indians ) should be encouraging enough so that the one suffering will not have to hesitate much while opening up about his problems to others.
The more they open up, the more it becomes easier for everyone to diagnose their problems. Also, they complete their treatment in a better way, because they will no more have a fear of ‘people-knowing’ about their problem.
Treatments for the problem of Sex Addiction
There are so many ways out through which the individuals addicted can be treated, and the people are of full freedom to select the mode of treatment in the earlier stages, but the thing needed the most is a firm commitment by them, that they will do as said by the professionals and to make it sure in their minds that they want a change in themselves.
The individual should also be willing himself or herself to have a recovery plan. They need professional help, but this alone will not be doing any good as this problem is complete of isolation and hiding. So the individuals need to express entirely and talk about their issues, but at the same time need proper support from friends, families and any other person who is close to them as they are afraid of being judged.
Some of the treatments of sex addiction are mentioned below :
- Counseling – The treatment for sex addiction is often provided by addiction professionals rather than psychosexual specialists. In 2017, the bodies of Psychosexual Counselling came up with the idea that sex addiction is a different entity.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy ( CBT ) is the most common form of behavioral treatment for various addictions. Though the Certified Sex Addiction Therapist ( CSAT ) use different forms of therapy for sex addiction. Nevertheless, Dialectal Behavior Therapy has also been proved to show significant results in dealing with sex addictions.
- Support Groups – Support Groups are also very helpful in treating addictions. The support of their peers, families, near and dear ones matters a lot. There are commonly two types of support groups – online and offline ( in-person support groups).
Both may have considerable influence. Online support groups may help the addicts to understand the negatives consequences, and how things will change once the individual or the addict stops watching porn or stops to masturbate.
Whereas in-person, a support group may have the significant influence. This may even consist of peers and even a group of people who have been through the same circumstances along with a professional residing over the group meetings. The group talks and does an activity which they need to complete together. This helps their behavior to change in a positive way, moving away from the addiction.
- 12 Step programs – Programs like these help a lot in recovery. In this, the individuals are allowed to have sex but are asked to refrain from compulsive and destructive sexual behavior. In this, the addicts also address some challenges together, which help reduce their addiction to sex.
- Inpatient Treatment Programs – Several Inpatient treatment centers use this therapy to cure addiction. In this, the addicted individual is removed from his daily life schedule for at least 30 days. This helps them to regain control over their impulses and start healing. It also includes in-depth group therapy sessions for better recovery.
- Prescribed Drugs – To some, medications may help a lot for their treatment. As the prescribed medicines are antidepressants, which may impair the other aspects of sex and also decrease the libido. Though not every time it is considerate to prescribe drugs in this condition.
Even the individuals themselves need to follow a few rules for their efficient recovery. They should make a new daily schedule with a lot of scope for positive changes. They should try to cope up with their urges and manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.