Sex addiction

Sex addiction is a process, or behavioural, addiction and is characterised by compulsive participation in sexual activities including sexual acts and fantasies with or without partners, masturbation and pornography, to alter mood, escape problems, or manage uncomfortable feelings.

Sex addicts come to depend on these sexual activities and fantasies to feel better in some way, and to experience cravings for them, just as happens with a substance addiction.


Sex addiction rehab

Sex addiction is characterised by persistent and escalating sexual thoughts and acts that have a negative impact on an individual’s life and the lives of their family.

Sex addiction is a process, or behavioural addiction characterised by compulsive participation in sexual activities including sexual acts and fantasies with or without partners, masturbation and pornography, to alter mood, escape problems, or manage uncomfortable feelings.

As a sex addiction develops, the addict spends increasing time and energy in sexual preoccupation. They will often follow a routine or ritual, leading to acting out their desires, followed by feelings of shame, despair, confusion and denial. These ritualised behaviours may include accessing online pornography, frequenting the same bars and clubs, using sex workers, or other behaviours that build up over time. They experience a lack of ability to control, or postpone, sexual feelings and actions – with the need for arousal often replacing the need for emotional closeness and intimacy.

As time passes the sex addict continues to display sex addiction symptoms and to seek out these sexual activities regardless of negative consequences such as relationship difficulties, health consequences, impact on reputation and/or legal issues.


Sex addiction help

Sex addiction is not about sex.

It’s about pain or escape or anxiety reduction. While those suffering from an addiction to sex will fearlessly pursue it, they are actually chasing something else. It’s not about sex at all. Rather, it’s a way to medicate feelings, wounds and insecurities.

Therefore, effective treatment for sexual addiction requires a multifaceted approach that addresses both the compulsive behaviour and the underlying issues and co-occurring disorders that may contribute to it.

Sex addicts struggle to control or postpone sexual feelings and actions. Most sex addicts do not know how to achieve genuine intimacy. Eventually, the pursuit of sex becomes the most important thing in the addict’s life. As sexual preoccupation increases in terms of energy and time, the sex addict follows a routine or ritual leading to acting out on desires, which is then followed by feelings of denial then shame, despair and confusion.

Common signs of sex addiction:

  • Sexual preoccupation – constant or continual fantasies about sexual prospects or situations
  • Ritualisation – a preferred sexual activity or situation develops that is often repetitive and stereotyped
  • Compulsion – continuing to engage in the sexual activity despite negative consequences and a desire to stop
  • Despair – guilt and shame about their inability to control their behaviour
  • Neglecting responsibilities (family, work, financial) to concentrate on sexual activities
  • Using sexual activities to escape problems or uncomfortable feelings
  • Lying about, or concealing sexual behaviours and activities at home and/or work, to family, friends or employer
  • Engaging in sexual behaviours or activities that could be considered risky and/or inappropriate
  • Experiencing intrusive sexual thoughts or fantasies at inappropriate times
  • Often relating to other people in a seductive or flirtatious manner, or with underlying sexual innuendo
  • Blaming relationship problems on sex life
  • Spending considerable time in activities related to sex, such as cruising for partners, or spending hours online visiting pornographic websites
  • Escalating range, risk or frequency of sexual activity to achieve the desired effect, such as more frequent visits to prostitutes or more sex partners
  • Feeling irritable when unable to engage in the desired behaviour
  • Continuing to engage in the sexual activities despite negative consequences, such as broken relationships or potential health risks

Do I have a problem with sex addiction? If any of these signs resonate – you can do this quick sex addiction test to raise your awareness.


Sex addiction treatment

If you are spending a significant amount of time watching porn or sex online, involved in multiple sexual relations with different partners, frequently visiting brothels or sex workers, engaging in sexual activities despite the consequences to your relationships, or placing sex above all other priorities in your life –  you may have a problem.

Please reach out for support and discuss how you can get help in this situation. 

If you’re ready to admit you have a problem, you’ve already taken the first step. It takes tremendous courage to face an addiction head on.

Recovery from sex addiction is likely to be more successful when co-existing issues, underlying causes and environmental factors are addressed at the same time as you stop engaging in the problematic sexual activities. Withdrawing from a process addiction such as sex addiction can be very challenging, uncomfortable and confusing when attempting it alone.

For this reason, a professionally supervised treatment program is strongly recommended. Addiction is a cunning & baffling disease and is most effectively treated in a therapeutic environment supported by addiction specialist health professionals.

If you would like to speak to someone who understands sex addiction, and who can discuss your particular situation and treatment needs, we suggest that you call our Client Care Team who will offer a free and confidential preliminary chat, or full assessment if that is your preference.

Take the first step into treatment today by phoning or emailing our Client Care Team on 1800 063 332. You can also email the team on info@southpacificprivate.com.au

South Pacific Private is here to help when you or someone you love experiences difficulties with addictions, trauma or with mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety.

MATT: I’m sick of you coming home from work late and drunk. This is the fourth time this week. What’s going on?

SARAH: So what? I had a few drinks.
I don’t have a problem.


Find out if you have a problem

The goal of our self-tests is not to provide you with a diagnosis for yourself or for someone you care about. Instead, they are an opportunity for you to better understand how a behaviour might be impacting upon your life or the life of your family. Use these tests to enhance your awareness of what the problem might be. These tests should be answered honestly in order to provide accurate insight and are a chance for you to reflect upon the current situation.


Find out if you have a problem.
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