What is Sex and Porn Addiction?

Posted on: 24th June 2018

Sex addiction is not the same as having a high sex drive or prudish up-tight people criticising sex. Nor is it something made up by the media for wayward celebrities. The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines it as: “A primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviours”.  In practice it can be defined as: • Any sexual activity that is used to modulate emotion and that feels out of control • An unhealthy relationship with a mood-altering experience • Not reliably able to control behaviour in spite of significant harmful consequences to self or others • Sex addiction (dopamine) is NOT a high sex drive (testosterone), though addicts may assume they have one. Sex Addiction may manifest as: • Compulsive masturbation • Compulsive use of pornography • Having multiple, ongoing affairs • Exhibitionism • Fetishes • Dangerous sexual practices • Prostitution • Anonymous sex • Voyeurism • Telephone sex • Chat room/online sex • Multiple partner sex • Illegal sexual practices The problem is the relationship to the activity, not the activity itself. The impact can be devastating with clients saying such things as “it’s dominating my life and is completely against my core values.” ”I fear losing everything.I’m completely drained by my behaviours and it’s devastating my relationship.” “Waste of time and debt.” “I have reached a point where I am seriously contemplating suicide. I can’t go on like this.” The impact on partners can be equally devastating with feelings of shock, shame, betrayal, disgust and despair. The global porn industry is massive –  more massive than you may expect: • $97 billion dollar industry – more than Apple, Google, Netflix, Yahoo combined. • Estimated 50-75% of men and women worldwide view online porn. • Search engines deal with around 68 million requests daily for pornographic material. • 25% of all search terms are for pornography (top search ‘teen’) • https://www.yourbrainonporn.com – 20,000 visitors a day. Even more shocking is the fact that sex addiction alters brain chemistry by increasing dopamine, endorphins and adrenalin – all naturally occurring addictive chemicals. It also changes dopamine receptors in the brain, hence the escalation in the addictive behaviour. Fantasy triggers dopamine in the same way as actual acting-out behaviours. Sexual addition may be used to anaesthetise against boredom, loneliness, stress and anxiety, anger & frustration, fear & loss, managing hyper/hypo arousal states and shame. In relationships it can defend against fears of abandonment. Treatment options for sex addicts includes counselling and there is also an opportunity for additional group work therapy, at a specialist centre such as The Laurel Centre. Partners of sex addicts can also benefit from counselling. If you or your partner have been affected by sex and porn addiction and think you may benefit from counselling or you would like more information then please get in touch by text on 07891593571 or email at sheelaghward@protonmail.com