Am I a sex addict?
Sex addiction is commonly classified as a process or behavioural addiction. Process addictions are simply defined as an addiction that is behavioural and not induced by the ingestion of a substance such as drugs or alcohol. Interestingly the chemical reaction and more specifically the release of Dopamine in the brain of the sex addict is the same as a drug addicts high. Dopamine is the feel-good neurotransmitter central to the pleasure centre in the brain. It is the ‘high’ that initiates and links all addictions. As with all sources of addiction, the escape or ‘high’ has potential to cross over into dependence.
So how much is too much?
In therapy, concerned individuals and or their partners regularly ask; How much is too much? Where’s the line between normal sex and sex addiction?
Sex and sexual acts are not quantifiable in addiction terms. More the point is the individual’s quality of life. A therapist will be interested in how other areas of the client’s life are affected and the impact of sex on their relationships with others. As with any addiction, it is not just about the specific act, drug or substance but more the ripple effect and unmanageability of the ‘addicts’ life that reveals or determines addiction.
Specifically, the sex addict’s motives shift from a source of physical pleasure to a reliance on sex. Gradually sex or sexual acts take on an anaesthetic relief for life’s challenges and the sex addict progressively loses control and dependence begins. Secrecy, shame and guilt follow developing the dependence with every act. The vicious cycle of addiction is turning and deepening. In the end, like all addictions, the source of the original high to feel good ironically transports the addict into a life of misery, shame and remorse.
Quite simply, if sex, sexual acts, masturbation or porn is affecting your work, education and or relationships you may have crossed over into an unhealthy sexual addiction.
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About Mick Green
Mick has trained and supervised clinicians in addiction and eating disorders, self-harm and body dysmorphia. Worked with substance misuse and alcohol dependency for the past 20 years, previously employed as the manager of a prominent private rehab, and counselling supervisor for two large charities, Mick now works entirely in private practice.