Pacific Behavioral Health 

   Sexual Compulsions


Does Sexual Addiction Exist?


There is a great deal of discussion in the scientific literature as to the existence of sexual addiction.  Yet one thing is clear - compulsive sexual behavioral does exist, and it shares many of the same properties as drug addiction.


1. Like drugs, sex stimulates chemical in the brain and body that are very pleasurable.   The more you have enjoyable sex, the more the body and brain want to repeat the experience in order to feel good.  


2.  Like drugs, sex can be habit forming.  When sex is used for stress reduction, obtaining pleasure, and increasing intimacy, one learns to associate these experiences with sex.   These are fundamental experiences that everyone deserves, and if sex is the only or easiest experience to have these feelings, then one wants to repeat the experience frequently. 


3. Like drugs, sex can be used excessively.  If you can't feel pleasure, relaxed, or intimate without sex, then you are driven to have more sex than if you can obtain these feelings in other healthy ways, such as through meditation or yoga, exercise, music, dancing, holding hands and talking with your partner, etc.  Without other ways to achieve these feelings, one can get into the habit of seeking all these feelings through sex, whether with another person, by oneself through fantasies and masturbation, or through pornography.   In time, these habits can become feel like a compulsion - one is driven to sexual activity even if it's to one's detriment.


4.  Like drugs, sexual compulsiveness is associated with denial and interference in one's life.  Compulsions can be so strong that normal logical reasoning can is often suppressed.  Someone might seek sex with a partner without thoughts of STDs or the consequences of getting caught; one might start masturbating to pornography rather than having sex with one's spouse; or one might be driven to porn or sexual release throughout the day even if it means missing work or avoiding other healthy activities.


5.  Like drugs, sexual compulsiveness can be overcome.  It takes a strong desire to overcome any habit, but with support it can be achieved.  

- First one must identify what underlying benefit one is getting from the behavior.

- Second one must find a way to achieve that underlying benefit in a healthier way

- Third, one must stop engaging in the sexual compulsive behavior.  There are various methods for doing this, depending on the situation, including tapering down while the alternative methods are being developed, employing self-hypnosis to focus on self-comforting and imagining a healthier self, stopping "cold-turkey", and others.


Whatever your situation, sexual compulsiveness, like any other maladaptive behavioral habit, can be overcome, resulting in a healthier, happier life.

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