Causes The causes of sexual addiction remain unclear. Addiction takes root in the reward center of the brain. It may occur when certain parts of the brain mistake pleasure responses for survival mechanisms. The midbrain is the section of the brain that handles the body's reward system and survival instincts. As sexual activity creates a rush of dopamine, the "feel-good" chemical in the brain, this triggers the feeling of pleasure.
The midbrain then mistakes this feeling of pleasure as being central to survival. One possibility is that, in people with sexual addiction, the frontal cortex, or the brain's center of logic and morality, is impaired by the midbrain.
Studies on rats have linked lesions of a section of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex mPFC with compulsive sexual behavior. This may shed some light the causes of hypersexuality in humans. Some studies have found a higher frequency of addictive sexual behavior in people from dysfunctional families.
A person with sexual addiction is more likely to have been abused than other people. A significant number of people recovering from sexual addiction have reported some type of addiction among family members. It can occur alongside another addiction. Diagnosis Symptoms of sexual addiction may resemble those of other addictions, but the diagnostic criteria for sexual addiction remains in dispute.
For this reason, there are different sets of criteria for diagnosing the condition. The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA, suggested in a study that to in order for a sexual addiction to qualify as a mental health disorder, an individual must: Sexual addiction or advanced libido? One challenge is to distinguish sexual addiction from a high sex drive. Two key features can help health professionals to do this: Aviel Goodman, director of the Minnesota Institute of Psychiatry, has proposed criteria similar to those used in substance addiction.
The criteria would diagnose sexual addiction when significant damage or distress is caused by a pattern of behavior. To receive a diagnosis, a person should show at least three of the following traits during a month period. The behaviors relate to tolerance and withdrawal issues. They would not adjust to the changing personal circumstances caused by sexual addiction. The behavior needs to increase in frequency and intensity to achieve the desired effect. Continuing at the same level or intensity fails to produce the desired effect.
Discontinuing the behavior leads to withdrawal syndrome, including physiological or psychological changes. Similar behavior is engaged in to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms. Other possible criteria include: People with a sex addiction may deny there is a problem. Sexual addiction can be controlled by attending self-help meetings.
Current treatment options aim to reduce any excessive urges to engage in sexual relations and to encourage the nurturing of healthful relationships. The following treatment options are available: Self-help organizations, such as Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, offer step programs to help the individual in self-managing the condition. Residential treatment programs are available for individuals with various addictive disorders.
These are in-patient programs, during which the individual lives on-site at the facility and receives care from specialized therapists. Cognitive behavioral therapy CBT provides a variety of techniques that help the individual change their behavior. CBT can equip a person to avoid relapses and reprogram harmful sexual behaviors. Prescription medications, such as Prozac, may be prescribed to reduce sexual urges, but the drug has not been approved by the U. The support of friends and family is crucial for a person recovering from an addiction.
Sexual addiction, due to its behavioral nature, can be difficult for others to understand and tolerate, especially if it has already led to damage in relationships. However, a strong support network helps to reduce destructive behavior and the risk of relapse.