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Sex Addiction Defined and Explained

What is a Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction is actually much more common than most people think it is. People often think that it's mostly about pornography, but it isn't at all. There are so many other variables, although that is an important one.

Sex Addiction Information

As far as Internet pornography goes, statistics tell us that:

  • 72 people around the world visit adult sites every month.
  • About 12% of these websites are pornographic in nature.
  • That works out to be about 4.2 million websites.
  • 42.7% of all Internet users view pornography regularly.
  • As many as 8% of people are sex addicts.
  • This works out to be 24 million people worldwide.

Furthermore, about 80% of women who have pornography addictions take those addictions offline. Women are much more likely to act out their sexual behaviors in real life. This is shocking to most people, who assume that sex addiction is something that mostly pertains to men. This just isn't the case at all.

Sex addiction can take a number of different forms. It can affect people in different ways, and no one is immune to it. When you have a sex addiction, it takes over your entire life. This may be a situation you're currently facing in your life now.

At Northpoint Washington, we know the seriousness of this addiction. Sex addiction has the power to ruin everything about your life. It tears apart families, destroys job opportunities, and causes a host of other problems. Understanding sex addiction, and whether or not you have one is the first step to getting help.

If you believe you might be addicted to sex, the following information will be so helpful to you.

What is Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction is often referred to as a hypersexual disorder. It is a process addiction. Sexaholics, as they are sometimes called, are obsessed with compulsive sexual thoughts and behaviors. These are not able to be managed or controlled. For the sex addict, their thoughts and behaviors interfere with many different parts of their lives. They may make it hard for them to work, have relationships and have social lives.

Sexaholics are constantly thinking about sex, or participating in the act of sex. This is to the detriment of everything else in their lives. Sex addiction is a progressive problem, much like other types of addictions. Over time, the addictive behaviors tend to become more extreme and intense. In this way, sexual addiction is actually very similar to drug and alcohol addictions.

The key component of a sex addiction is that the person feels compelled to act on these thoughts. There is a definite lack of control, and when the person wants to stop, he or she is unable to. People with hypersexual disorder struggle to develop genuine, intimate relationships with others. If they do have regular sexual partners, there is usually not much emotional attachment to them.

What are the Different Types of Sexual Addiction?

There are actually several different types of sex addiction. These all share different characteristics, but the goal is the same – to achieve sexual stimulation. As you read through these, you may find that you identify with one or more of them. Please keep in mind that these behaviors are only considered sex addictions if they cause harm.

Fantasy Sex

Fantasy sex involves unrealistic scenarios and expectations. This individual is obsessed with creating fantasies, and is unable to enjoy sex without them. They sometimes do involve a romantic partner, but there is no attachment there. In this way, fantasy sex offers an escape from reality.

Fantasy sex becomes a problem when it takes up a lot of time and energy. Fantasies interfere with the ability to develop any real feelings of love toward the partner.

Anonymous Sex

These individuals get a great deal of excitement out of having sex with strangers. They often have one-night stands, or have sex with people who remain anonymous. For them, this type of sex is very exciting. It creates an adrenaline rush and a sense of euphoria. It also allows them to avoid getting attached to any one person. Usually, anonymous sex offers an emotional barrier that these individuals feel they need.

Paid Sex

Paid sex involves paying for escorts or prostitutes. However, it can also extend to paying for phone sex. Anonymous sex and paid sex can sometimes overlap with each other. There is no risk of emotional attachment at all, because it is a business transaction.

Sex for Trade

Sex for trade is a little bit different than paid sex. In this case, the sex addict is the one being compensated. This might come in the form of money, drugs, or another type of compensation. However, beneath the actual transaction is the drive for power from charging someone for sex.

Exhibitionistic Sex

Exhibitionistic sex involves exposing one's genitals to another person. This usually happens in public, and no sexual contact is made with the other person. There is a lot of excitement in the victim's response for this type of sex addict.

Some exhibitionists will expose themselves through photos or videos, or they may strip in a club. There are several forms of exhibitionistic sex.


Voyeurism involves spying on other people when they are naked, or when they are having sex. Voyeurs are sexually aroused by watching their victims. They will usually masturbate during their observations. Part of the excitement of this addiction is doing it in secret. Voyeurs may look at pornography too, which they feel is much more acceptable.

Seductive Role Sex

Seductive role sex involves getting others to engage in sexual activities using ploys or charm. There is no genuine connection with the other person. Instead, the individual is viewed as a challenge to be conquered. This gives the addict a sense of satisfaction and power.


Sadomasochism is sometimes called S&M for short. It involves inflicting or experiencing pain and torture as a part of sexual activity. These individuals will dominate their partners, who may or may not be consenting. They may also enjoy being dominated or humiliated by their partners. The only sexual satisfaction they experience is when performing these acts.

Intrusive Sex

Intrusive sex is sometimes referred to as frotteurism. This involves touching someone sexually without their consent. Quite often, it occurs in a crowded place that's easy to escape from. It's not uncommon for people in certain professions to have this type of sex addiction. Teachers, prison guards and even priests often suffer from this type of sex addiction.

Exploitative Sex

This type of sex addiction involves coercing other people to participate in the acts. Victims in these cases are vulnerable. They may be children, disabled people or invalids. Exploitative sex is very traumatizing for the victim.

Understanding the Symptoms of Hypersexuality

If you think you may be suffering from hypersexuality, it's important to understand the symptoms of it. Obviously, because there are so many different types of sex addiction, symptoms can vary. However, there are many symptoms that apply to sex addiction in general. These include:

  • Lacking the ability to resist or control the impulses to engage in sexual behaviors.
  • Being unable to stop sexual acts, even through willpower.
  • Feeling a need to have sex with more partners than intended.
  • Feeling a need to engage in sexual acts more often as time goes on.
  • Spending a lot of time and energy on acquiring sex, having sex, and recovering.
  • Becoming obsessed with the actions or activities that are a part of the experience.
  • Participating in sexual behavior despite the negative consequences of doing so.
  • Failing to fulfill responsibilities because of sexual behaviors.
  • Consistently increasing the intensity of the sex in order to achieve the desired result.
  • Obsessing over sex and the desire for sex.
  • Lying about various sexual activities to others.
  • Experiencing legal problems because of sexual behaviors.
  • Compromising one's reputation because of sexual behaviors.

Am I a Sex Addict? Take a Quiz to Find Out More

After looking at the above list of symptoms, you may be wondering if you have an actual sex addiction. It's not always easy to tell. Taking a sex addiction quiz can give you some better insight into your own behaviors.

Answer the following questions as honestly as you can.

  • Have you ever been paid, or paid anyone for sex?
  • Has your sexual behavior ever put you at risk for legal problems?
  • Do you believe that having anonymous or casual sex has made it impossible for you to have romantic relationships?
  • Do you frequently look for sex with strangers in public places?
  • Have you ever engaged in sex even though you knew it was risky?
  • Do you enjoy pain or inflicting pain upon others during sex?
  • Have you had multiple sexual relationships at one time?
  • Have you ever traded sex for money or gifts?
  • Do you find it difficult to resist watching pornography?
  • Have you attempted to stop participating in your sexual behaviors?
  • Do you use the Internet to make sexual connections with people?
  • Do you find that you think about sex almost all the time?
  • Do you spend a lot of time preparing for sexual activities?
  • Does it ever feel as though your sexual desire is stronger than you are?
  • Do you feel that sex has taken over your life?

If you answered yes to more than two of the above questions, you probably do have a sex addiction. It's important to know how to get help.

What are the Various Forms of Sex Addiction Help?

There are certain addictive patterns to any kind of addiction. Professional treatment is absolutely necessary for these patterns to be interrupted. Most of the time trying to stop sexual behavior on your own isn't going to work. It only serves to drive you deeper into the addiction.

There are many ways you can get treatment for your sexual addiction.

Sex Addicts Anonymous: This group is often referred to as SAA. They are an organization that offers help for sex addicts. They have various support groups located around the country. They also offer online and telephone help and support.

Sexaholics Anonymous: SA is an organization that also has support groups for sex addicts. They meet in person, or they can opt for online or email meetings. Both men and women can become members, and there are no fees to participate.

Sex Therapy: Working with a therapist can be very helpful when struggling with a hypersexuality disorder. Sex therapy has been shown to be very effective, and there are many therapists who specialize in this area.

Family Therapy: Sex addiction causes serious problems within families. Family therapy can be so helpful at repairing these relationships.

Sex Addiction Treatment: Some type of sex addiction rehab is often needed for those with sex addictions. This might involve in or outpatient treatment.

If You're in Need of Sex Addiction Treatment, We Can Help You

Sexual addicts often feel as though they don't have anywhere to turn for help. They spend their lives feeling shameful about their conditions, and powerless to change. It's not surprising that so many people find it difficult to reach out for the help they need. This addiction can be embarrassing to many who feel they should be able to stop on their own.

However, at Northpoint Washington, we don't want you to feel ashamed or embarrassed. We understand that what you're going through is an actual addiction. It needs to be treated like one. If you're a sexual addict, please know that we're here to offer you the help you need.

With the right kind of therapy, you can recover from your sexual addiction. We take the time to construct a personalized treatment plan that will meet your unique needs. If you're in need of sex addiction treatment, we want to help you reach your goals.

Do you have a sexual addiction? It's time for you to consider getting the assistance you need. Please contact us to learn how we can help you.