Most people believe they know how to define addiction because they’ve met an alcoholic or a substance abuser. The truth is far more complex. There are many types of addiction, and a person does not need to be physically addicted to chemical substances to experience addiction.
It is possible to develop addictions to sensations, experiences, or even emotional states. The psychological community calls this process addiction. Sex and love addiction is one such disorder.
It’s easy to brush these types of addictions off as less serious or debilitating than more mainstream chemical addictions. That is a mistake. The fixation and loss of control involved in these addictions are very real.
Individuals battling an addiction to sex or love are worthy of treatment and support. We’ll help you understand sex and love addiction, as well as their symptoms and causes.
Psychological professionals sometimes call sex addiction hypersexuality. It involves the compulsion to engage in sexual activity. Sex addicts are sensory-seeking. They may crave the physical sensations and emotional euphoria present during sex.
Sexual activity is not limited to intercourse, although that is often a symptom. This addiction involves a great deal of shame, guilt, and secrecy. Often, this leads addicts to practice compulsive sexual activity in private.
Sex itself is not shameful or dangerous when practiced mindfully and in moderation. Hypersexuality goes beyond the enjoyment of sex. It can impact every aspect of a person’s social, financial, and professional life.
Individuals who are addicted to sex may become more dependent on sexual sensations over time. Addicts often fail to engage in activities that once brought them pleasure. A great deal of expense might go toward satisfying the addiction. This can lead to financial struggles.
If an individual with sex addiction is in a relationship, it can be a major challenge. Hypersexual individuals cannot stop the behavior for the sake of their partner. It is an out-of-control compulsion that requires intervention.
Every sex addict’s symptoms will be unique to that individual. Symptoms might be overt and become more secretive over time. An addict with one pervasive symptom might suffer just as much as an addict struggling with several.
The most common symptoms of hypersexuality include the following:
Individuals suffering from sex addiction must live with the social, emotional, and financial fallout of their dependence. They may become just as fixated on how to stop the behavior as they are on the behavior itself. This can lead to constant guilt and remorse.
Occasionally, individuals with a hypersexual disorder may contract sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Their behavior can lead to legal problems and cause financial distress over time. Most significantly, sexual addiction impacts interpersonal relationships, including sexual and romantic relationships.
If you think that you may have an addiction to sex, take our Sex Addiction Self-Test to get a better understanding of where you stand.
Some individuals pursue sexual activity to escape other problems. These can include the symptoms of another diagnosis. Hypersexual individuals often struggle with anxiety, depression, or stress management disorders.
The most recognized treatment for symptoms of process addictions is psychotherapy. This might include CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy. Individuals with a dual diagnosis may also receive medication-assisted treatment.
Addicts should seek help from a professional experienced in addiction recovery. A licensed residential treatment provider can provide holistic, multi-modal support for sex addiction.
During recovery, many sex addicts attend 12-step meetings such as SLAA. This can help sex addicts to form a community with other sufferers.
Individuals who are addicted to love have a fixation on the idea of relationships. They will change their behavior or themselves to ensure that partners accept them. This can result in co-dependent relationships, which can be unsafe for one or both parties.
Dependence is a major component of love addiction. The addict may feel as though they can’t function without their partner. This is often due to low self-esteem.
Love addicts might struggle when separated from a partner. They might feel as though they lack a sense of self without them. Addicts may also fixate on maintaining their relationships and exclude other needs.
Love addiction can also manifest as infatuation or even lust. Some love addicts constantly seek out the excitement of a new relationship. Despite this, they usually cannot maintain an emotional attachment with a partner.
Some love addicts may be more invested in the version of a relationship in their minds than in reality. Ultimately, love addiction can lead to intense anxiety and emotional distress. Their inability to form healthy relationships can impact their quality of life.
Love addiction can manifest in a variety of ways, unique to each addicted individual. Both serial daters and individuals in dangerous relationships might suffer from love addiction.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
Every love addict will have a different combination of symptoms. Many of the most common symptoms can be difficult to spot. All in all, if an individual is in emotional distress, they are worthy of treatment and support.
If you think that you may have an addiction to love, take our Love Addiction Self-Test to get a better understanding of where you stand.
There is no single cause of love addiction. Even so, common causes may include the following:
Some love addicts pursue romantic relationships to distract from the symptoms of another diagnosis. It is common for love addicts to struggle with anxiety, depression, or stress management disorders. Commonly, love addicts also suffer from low self-esteem.
Love addiction is an attachment addiction. Thus, the most effective treatment is psychotherapy or CBT. Practitioners may also choose to involve family or partners in the therapeutic process.
If an individual’s love addiction is part of a dual diagnosis, they may also receive medication-assisted treatment.
An addiction treatment professional can support love addicts during their treatment and recovery. Multi-modal, holistic approaches can help to treat the whole individual. Love addicts can find this support through a licensed residential treatment provider.
During recovery, many love addicts attend 12-step meetings such as SLAA. This can help love addicts form a community with other sufferers.
Sex addiction and love addiction are distinct disorders and diagnoses. Still, they have many similarities. Sex addicts and love addicts often receive the same treatment in the residential setting.
The similarities between the two diagnoses include the following:
The most important similarity between the two addictions is that they are treatable. Individuals with both addictions can recover after attending a licensed residential treatment program. Those who seek help frequently go on to lead successful, productive lives in recovery.
Sex and love addiction is a valid psychological diagnosis. Individuals who may be suffering deserve appropriate treatment.
Intensive therapy and counseling are effective options for the treatment of both disorders. The sooner an addict commits to recovery, the sooner they can begin living a fulfilling life.
Beating an addiction at New Method Wellness is a unique, effective, and comfortable experience. New Method offers holistic addiction therapies, ranging from wolf-assisted therapy to surf therapy. Contact New Method Wellness today to begin your wellness journey in California.
Deanna Crosby is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) with over 20 years of experience working with clients in recovery. Her expertise has catapulted her into the spotlight. Featured on several episodes of the Dr. Phil Show as a mental health expert, DeAnna is a routine contributor for NBC News, The Huffington Post, Elle Magazine, MSN, Fox News, Yahoo, Glamour, Today, and several other prominent media outlets.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of California in Irvine, Crosby did postgraduate work at Centaur University where she graduated at the top of her class with a CAADAC certification in Centaur’s chemical dependency program. Following her time at Centaur, Crosby received her Master of Counseling Psychology degree from Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she also attained a Doctoral Degree in Depth Psychology.
From all of us at New Method Wellness co-occurring treatment center, we wish you peace and serenity in knowing that you or your loved one will get the necessary help.