The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, otherwise known as the “DSM” is in its fifth edition. The most recent edition of the DSM still does include a diagnosis for sex addiction or hypersexuality specifically. Hypersexuality is a common symptom of other mental disorders including bipolar, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. Sex is not an external chemical substance that can cause substance abuse or chemical dependency. However, sex and sexual activity does produce chemicals in the brain which are the same as those produced by external chemicals. Dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin are all associated with sexual activity. In a manner similar to substance use and addiction, sex can produce a large amount of dopamine and cause cravings for more, as well as build a tolerance.
Addiction as a disorder is defined by an inability to control, maintain, or abstain from the use of harmful substances. Chemical dependency and addiction is marked by a tolerance for a substance and cravings for the substance including symptoms of withdrawal. Despite negative consequences such as those in relationships, personal health, job, and responsibility, one who is addicted cannot stop using.
Sex addiction is what can be called a process addiction. Rather than being dependent upon an external substance, sex addicts are dependent upon an external process. Sex addiction is less about the sex itself and more about the process or relief experienced from sex. Similarly, alcohol is said to be but a symptom of alcoholism and the deeper problems lying beneath the surface. Sex addiction is typically discovered to be a coping mechanism for dealing with mental disorders, substance use disorders, past sexual abuse, and/or trauma.
Respectfully, one wouldn’t call an alcoholic an alcoholic simply because they like to drink. On that same note, a sex addict is not someone who simply likes to engage in sexual activities. They are a person suffering from a mental illness who is out of control in their own life. Sex addiction can lead to: debt from paying for sexual services, imprisonment for perversion or pornography, restraining orders, damage to sexual organs, heart attack from taking sexual supplements, damaged relationships, loss of job, and emotional distress.
If you are concerned you or a loved one may be suffering from sex addiction, call Avalon today for a confidential assessment. We are a certified mental health treatment facility, able to treat sex addiction as a primary diagnosis. For more information on our programs and how we can help you today, call 1 888-958-7511.