/ By Brandon McDonald
The concept of addiction, which involves engaging in habits that one knows are detrimental to their wellness, is one that can touch on a variety of areas — and will often give off signs that vary between the type of addiction in question. One particular form of addiction that has its own set of unique indicators is sex addiction. At Desert Solace, we’re here to offer quality sex addiction rehab and recovery programs in several formats, from our residential sex addiction treatment program to support groups, individual and couples therapy sessions, and more. Recognizing the telltale signs of addiction is one significant part of the recovery process, and it’s an area we assist our patients with on a regular basis. How is sex addiction defined, and what are some of the most common signs that you or someone close to you is dealing with it? Here’s a rundown.

What is Sex Addiction?

Firstly, understanding the signs of a given addiction involves grasping the basics of that addiction to begin with. Sex addiction refers to engaging in various sexual behaviors that reach a point where they become excessive, with such behaviors including things like compulsive masturbation, excessive viewing of pornography, voyeurism and others. Like several other forms of addiction, sex addiction is difficult in large part because it involves certain behaviors that, in a vacuum, are completely acceptable. Viewing pornography is neither illegal nor widely frowned upon when used in moderation; but when it becomes an excessive compulsion, one that takes away from other areas of life and warps the individual’s sense of normalcy in this area, it can become sex addiction quickly. What are some of the common signs you might be dealing with sex addiction? We’ll go over those in our next few sections.

Unhealthy, Excessive Use of Pornography

As we just noted above, pornography usage is one of the more difficult areas of sex addiction, largely because pornography is not illegal or considered harmful on its own by most people. That is, a singular viewing of pornography is generally considered to be a normal, healthy behavior as long as the person in question is a consenting adult who is not doing anything illegal. However, this practice can begin to border on sex addiction — or even become a full-on such addiction — if the behavior starts interfering with normal daily functions. For example, if you or someone close to you has become so attached to pornography that it leads to putting off important tasks in your life, or even risking your employment or relationships with other people, this is a clear sign that pornography usage has become excessive and may indicate sex addiction. Another concept that makes this form of sex addiction tough to deal with is how hard it can be to spot for some outsiders. Some people who deal with a pornography addiction become very good at hiding this behavior and keeping it private. However, those around them may begin to notice other common addiction signs, such as withdrawing personally and becoming disinterested in other activities.

Thrill-Seeking Behavior

For some people who deal with sex addiction, a key marker of this condition is their need to engage in thrill-seeking behavior, often attached to sex or sexual acts. Some have a compulsion for carrying out sexual acts in public, for instance, or for doing so in situations where it’s not typically considered appropriate (or may even be illegal). In many such cases, the relatively high likelihood of being caught doesn’t serve as a deterrent — rather, in fact, it serves as an incentive. The chemical rush associated with breaking the rules is incredibly strong in some brains, and this becomes its own form of addiction. In some cases, those dealing with this form of addiction are able to recognize it in themselves during periods of calmness. Their more rational brain has time to take over in these settings, and consider their behavior from one of their “manic” periods, if you will. However, some will also need help from friends, family or even addiction recovery specialists to fully recognize and accept assistance with their condition.

Excessive Chasing of Sexual “Conquests”

For others, one of the most prominent parts of sex addiction — and a key sign showcasing its presence — is a constant obsession with “conquests” in the sexual realm. Through a combination of brain chemistry changes and long-term socialization, some people have come to view sexual activity as a victory of sorts, an accomplishment on its own rather than a form of pleasure to be shared with a significant other. In many cases, this will lead to extremely unsafe behavior in pursuit of these conquests. Many who deal with this form of sex addiction, for instance, will be far more willing to engage in unprotected sex with people they do not know — which increases the chances of being infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Trouble Managing Daily Life

Finally, whether due to some of the specific issues we went over already or just in general, some people with an extreme sex addiction will find that it bleeds into several areas of their daily life. They may have trouble focusing on work because of a constant fixation on pornography or other sexual activity; they may struggle with personal relationships due to being withdrawn from normal parts of life. Some may even struggle to provide for their children or others in their family. If you notice these signs in someone close to you, look for a healthy, caring way to speak with them and let them know about your concerns. For more on the common indicators of sex addiction, or to learn about any of our sex addiction or pornography addiction recovery programs, speak to our caring staff at Desert Solace today.

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