Sexual Disorders and Addiction Explained

Sexual Disorders and Addiction

Sexual disorders and addiction often go hand in hand. Many people don't realize this, and they think that they're two separate conditions. When one person has both an addiction and a sexual disorder, these are known as co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders require a specific type of treatment for recovery to be successful.

Sexual Disorders Information

Sexual disorder is known to be one of the most difficult to overcome. There are several reasons for this. It's not just because sexual disorder is considered to be the “fun” mental health problem. It's a condition that causes a great deal of suffering. It's very hard for people with sexual disorders to remain sober for any amount of time. This leads to hopelessness and despair.

According to Newsweek, sex disorder has become an epidemic in the United States. The statistics support this theory. They tell us that:

  • As many as 5% of people in the United States are suffering from some type of sex disorder.
  • This works out to be more than 9 million people.
  • 1,500 therapists claim to be treating patients with sex disorders.
  • Just a decade ago, there were fewer than 100 of them treating sexual disorders.
  • Women are not immune from suffering from sex disorders, as many people assume.
  • This is also a problem that extends to adolescents and senior citizens, alike.
  • Each day, about 40 million people log on to some type of pornographic website.

Clearly, this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. It's certainly not surprising that so many people with sex disorders turn to drugs and alcohol.

At Northpoint Washington, we've worked with many people with sex disorders. Many of them also suffered from some type of substance abuse disorder as well. They needed specific treatment to target both of their issues. By personalizing the treatment they received, they were able to experience healing in both areas.

Perhaps you are facing a similar situation in your life. Your sex disorder might be something you're keeping a secret from the people who love you the most. Many sexual disorder sufferers feel the same way. It's a condition that has brought you shame, and you want nothing more than to recover from it. We can give you the help and support you need to make that a reality.

It might be helpful for you to first learn more about what sexual disorders really are. You may know very little about your condition. Once you educate yourself, you will see the need for treatment for both your sex disorder and your addiction.

What is a Sex Disorder?

Human sexuality is a part of everyday life. It's normal to be curious about sex and the different forms it can take. Sex disorders can affect anyone, at any time in their lives.

Certain sexual practices become sex disorders at the point where they begin interfering with the person's life. He or she may start to have problems at work, or with personal relationships. At that point, it's important to consider that a sexual disorder may be present.

Sometimes there can be a fine line between what is considered normal sexuality and sex disorders. You might be in a place right now where you're not sure. You may feel that something you're doing or participating in is not normal, but you need clarification. You're in the right place to get this information.

Types of Sex Disorders Explained

There are several different types of sex disorders. Once again, keep in mind that these behaviors become disorders once they begin interfering in daily life. If that is the case with you, then you may have a sex disorder that needs to be treated.

Some of the most common types of sexual disorders include:

Exhibitionistic Disorder

Exhibitionistic disorder is a condition that involves exposing one's genitals to an unsuspecting stranger. This behavior has to be repeated over a period of about six months to be considered a disorder. It involves intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies. Exhibitionism can also involve having a strong desire to be watched during sexual activity.

Once these fantasies and urges cause distress, it's time to consider that a sexual disorder may be in place. Usually, people experience occupational and social impairment. They may find it difficult to cope in other areas of their lives as well.

Fetishistic Disorder

This disorder was once known as fetishism. It involves the eroticization of nonliving things. Some common objects that are often associated with fetishes include women's underwear, stockings, shoes or other clothing items.

At times, some fetishes can involve specific body parts. This body part is a non-genital body part, such as feet or hair. There are some people who will utilize both non-living objects and body parts as a part of their fetishes.

The experience is generally one that involves all of the senses for sexual gratification. It's quite uncommon for women to experience fetishistic disorder. It occurs almost exclusively with men. Fetishistic disorder involves holding, smelling, tasting, or otherwise experiencing the object of desire during masturbation. As the disorder progresses, it is very common for the object to be required for any type of sexual stimulation.

Frotteuristic Disorder

Frotteuristic disorder was once known under the name frotteurism. It involves sexual fantasies and behaviors that include rubbing against another person. This individual is a non-consenting person.

These sexual urges must be present for at least six months before the disorder can be diagnosed. The fantasies and behaviors cause significant problems for the sufferer. He or she may find it hard to manage life in general. There is usually significant occupational and social impairment.

In some cases, frotteuristic disorder can be diagnosed when someone feels the need to use an object and not a person. It can also involve suffering and humiliation. People with this disorder will imagine that they have a caring relationship with their victims.

Sex Addiction

The definition of a sex addiction is the recurrent failure to control this behavior despite harmful consequences. Sex addiction is different from other types of addictions. It involves the individual's innermost unconscious wishes, conflicts and fears.

When someone has a sex addiction, it really doesn't have anything to do with sex at all. It's more about the person's sense of self and identity. It's symbolic of the individual's dysfunctional relationships with him or her self and with others.

Sex addiction can take a number of different forms. It can involve pornography, frequent sexual activity, prostitution, and other sexual acts. It is a condition that doesn't have an exact diagnosis, but it is very real, nonetheless. When sexual activity begins to overtake a person's life, and affect his or her quality of life, it's a problem.

Sexual Masochism and Sadism

Sexual masochism and sadism refer to sexually arousing fantasies that involve humiliation and suffering. This includes real acts of beatings and bondage. It can also include psychological suffering and torture.

These actions need to be in place for at least six months before a formal diagnosis can be made. The behaviors cause significant distress within the individual performing them. This individual experiences social and occupational problems as a result of the behaviors.

Voyeuristic Disorder

This disorder was formerly known as voyeurism. The individual who has it must be at least eighteen years of age. He or she has constant fantasies that involve observing someone who is naked. The individual must be unsuspecting. The individual may be disrobing or engaging in sexual activity.

In order to be diagnosed with voyeuristic disorder, the person must have acted on these urges in some way. The urges must cause impairment socially, occupationally, or in some other area of functioning.

Symptoms of the Different Sex Disorders

It's possible that you feel that you are suffering with a sex disorder. However, you're not exactly sure what it might be. Knowing the symptoms of each of the above disorders can help you.

The symptoms of exhibitionistic disorder include:

  • Having recurring, intense sexual fantasies that involve exposing the genitals
  • Exposure is usually to a stranger, but it can involve someone the individual knows
  • Acting on these urges with a non-consenting person
  • Experiencing distress in the workplace because of these urges
  • Having social difficulties because of these behaviors

The symptoms of fetishistic disorder include:

  • Having fantasies and sexual desires that involve the use of non-living items
  • These fantasies and urges cause a significant amount of distress
  • There is usually a drastic amount of social impairment present because of the sexual urges
  • Problems at work because of sexual behaviors and fantasies
  • Having sexual desires that relate to certain, non-sexual body parts
  • Not being able to perform sexually without the presence of the desired item or body part.

The symptoms of frotteuristic disorder include:

  • Recurring fantasies that involve rubbing against a non-consenting person
  • Recurring behaviors that involve touching a non-consenting person
  • Acting on these behaviors in public
  • Behaviors and fantasies cause a significant amount of distress
  • Having the above symptoms for six months or longer

The symptoms of sex addiction include:

  • Repeatedly having sex more often than the person desires to
  • Having sex with more partners than intended
  • Constantly thinking about sex to the detriment of other activities
  • Engaging in sexual practices even when there is a desire to stop
  • Spending a lot of time participating in activities that are related to sex
  • Neglecting important obligations in favor of pursuing sex
  • Continuing to participate in sexual behaviors, knowing about the negative consequences
  • Experiencing an escalation in the frequency or scope of sexual behaviors
  • Feeling upset or irritable when unable to engage in sexual activity

The symptoms of sexual masochism and sadism include:

  • Experiencing sexual arousal from being beaten
  • Experiencing sexual arousal from being bound or humiliated
  • Being unable to become aroused sexually without some form of suffering
  • These urges involve fantasies, and they greatly interfere with one's quality of life
  • The urges must be present for at least six months

The symptoms of voyeuristic disorder include:

  • Recurrent sexual fantasies involving someone who is naked
  • Recurrent and intense sexual urges involving watching someone disrobing or having sex
  • Acting on these behaviors in some way
  • Finding that the acting on these behaviors is having a direct impact in the person's life
  • Participating with these behaviors for at least six months or more

Do You Have a Sex Disorder? Take a Quiz to Find Out

Taking a sex disorder quiz can help by shedding some light on your own behaviors. It might be difficult for you to look objectively at your sexual behaviors and practices. However, try to answer the following questions as honestly as you can.

  • Do you ever feel that your sexual behavior is not normal?
  • Do you find that you are often preoccupied with various sexual thoughts?
  • When you act out sexually, do you ever feel bad afterwards?
  • Has your sexual behavior caused you to have serious personal problems?
  • Have you ever experienced work-related problems because of your sexual behaviors?
  • Has your participation in sex ever hurt someone that you deeply care about?
  • Are you participating in any sexual behaviors that could have legal consequences?
  • Have you tried to stop participating in sexual behaviors, but failed?
  • Do you tend to hide your sexual behaviors and urges from other people?
  • Does your sexual behavior ever make you feel degraded?
  • After you engage in sexual activity, do you feel depressed or guilty?
  • Do you feel that your sexual desires control your life?
  • Do you constantly think about sex?
  • Has sex or sexual fantasies become ways for you to escape your problems?
  • Do you feel that sex is the most important thing in your life?

If you answered yes to several of the above questions, it's possible that you do have a sexual disorder. It's difficult to say what type of disorder you might have. Talking with a professional can help you understand yourself and your behaviors. It's important to find out for sure.

Once you know for certain, you'll be able to work on healing from both your sex disorder and your addiction.

What Causes Sexual Disorders to Occur?

There are so many different theories about what causes sexual disorders to occur. The truth is that it's different for everyone. According to Medical News Today, sex disorders may be caused by:

  • Chemical abnormalities within the brain
  • A family history of addiction or sexual disorders
  • Sexual abuse as a child
  • Emotional or physical abuse at any point in time
  • Having come from any type of dysfunctional family situation

Researchers have discovered that some people experience extreme rewards during sexual activities. These are the same types of rewards that are experienced for alcoholics or drug addicts. Although the effects are short-term, they are enough to keep people involved in the same behaviors.

Common Methods of Treatment for Sexual Disorders

There are a few different ways that sex disorders are currently being treated. Individuals are often referred for psychotherapy, which includes cognitive-behavioral therapy. This helps them understand their disorders much more clearly. It also teaches them how to change their patterns of thinking.

Group therapy is also an important part of treating sexual disorders. There are many different types of 12 Step support groups for sex disorders.

Finally, certain medications have been found to help with many of the symptoms of sex disorders too.

Can Medications Help People Recover from Sex Disorders?

There are actually several different types of medications that have been found to be very helpful for sex disorders. These include:

  • Antidepressants: Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft can help to reduce compulsive thoughts and obsessive behaviors. They can also help to reduce anxiety and depression, which is often associated with sex disorders.
  • Anti-androgens: These drugs work by decreasing the severity of sexual urges.
  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone: This drug is for men, and it helps to control testosterone production. These can reduce sexual urges.
  • Mood stabilizers: Drugs like lithium and Depakote are often used to help reduce sexual urges.
  • Naltrexone: While this drug is frequently given to opioid addicts and alcoholics, it works for sex disorders as well. It targets the pleasure center in the brain and blocks the receptors.

The Relationship Between Sex Disorders and Addiction Explained

For people with sexual disorders, they are frequently having their lives affected by their behaviors. Their urges are impossible for them to control on their own. Because of this, it may seem as though they're constantly dealing with the aftermath of their behaviors. This can cause them to have significant problems in their lives.

The nature of their conditions often leads them to avoid getting any type of professional help at all. They feel ashamed because of their actions, and they're usually sure that they're all alone. Still, they have a desire to feel better, and this frequently leads them to use drugs or alcohol. For them, it's a way to self-medicate.

Continuing to live this way is very dangerous. It causes a lot of pain, and it leads to a terrible addiction cycle that can be very hard to break.

Integrative Addiction Treatment for People with Sex Disorders

Integrative addiction treatment is often referred to as dual diagnosis treatment. This type of drug and alcohol rehab works so well because it addresses the cause of the addiction.

Other types of addiction treatment centers only center on the addiction itself. Actually, just a few decades ago, that was considered the norm. People who had both a substance abuse problem and a mental health condition were treated separately. As a result, more people relapsed because the reasons behind their addictions were never fully addressed. The good news is that integrative addiction treatment aimed to change that, and it has.

If you're suffering from these co-occurring disorders, getting the right kind of treatment is crucial. Your recovery is important, but unless you address the root cause, you're not likely to heal. Through working with a therapist, participating in group therapy and other forms of treatment, many people have found success. The same can be true for you.

It might be very difficult for you to face the fact that you have a sexual disorder. This might be something you've kept to yourself for your entire adult life. However, continuing to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol should not be an option. The right kind of help is available to you.

How to Find the Right Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center for Sex Disorders and Addictions

It is so important for you to get treatment for your sex disorder and addiction. Continuing to live the way you live right now is only going to make matters worse. You may be using substance abuse as a way to soothe yourself, and help yourself feel better. The problem is that those feelings are only going to be short-lived. Eventually, it's going to become much more difficult for drugs and alcohol to work for you.

Finding the right dual diagnosis treatment center is the key to overcoming your sex disorder and addiction. These programs specialize in co-occurring disorders, which means you'll get the help you need. You want to look for programs that offer:

  • Specific treatment plans for each and every patient they work with.
  • A commitment to providing you with all the services you need. This might include drug and alcohol detox and other forms of treatment.
  • A constant supply of professional support.
  • The right kind of follow-up care.
  • Several different options for treatment facilities. That way you can choose the one that will work best for you.

At Northpoint Washington, we want you to know that we're committed to offering you the type of help you need. Every patient who comes to us is different. You are an individual, and your needs are different from someone else's needs. By targeting the treatment we offer you, we can help you be successful.

Are you suffering from a sexual disorder and addiction? There's no better time to reach out for help than right now. Please contact us to get started.