Symptoms of Sex Addiction

What symptoms does sex addiction have?

Sex addiction is different from generally high libido in two important and defining ways:

1. A pattern of out-of-control sexual behavior (“acting
out”) eg:

• Compulsive masturbation
• Indulging in pornography
• Having chronic affairs
• Exhibitionism
• Dangerous sexual practices
• Prostitution
• Anonymous sex
• Compulsive sexual episodes
• Compulsive use of internet, sites etc. to make
sexual connections
• Voyeurism

2. Experiencing severe consequences due to sexual
behavior, and an inability to stop despite these adverse
consequences:

• Loss of partner or spouse
• Severe marital or relationship problems
• Loss of career opportunities
• Unwanted pregnancies / abortions
• Suicidal obsession / attempts
• Exposure to HIV and STDs
• Legal risks

In other words, once we start we cannot stop – and despite often dire consequences, we find that we cannot stop starting.  This addictive formula has led many of us into a combination of  denial, despair and desperation. Apart from these two defining characteristics, many of us also experienced:

• A persistent pursuit of self-destructive behavior
• An obsessive ongoing desire or effort to limit sexual
behavior (despite repeated failures to do so)
• Sexual obsession and fantasy as a primary coping
strategy
• Escalation of the type and amount of sexual behavior
because the current level of activity is no longer
sufficiently satisfying
• Severe mood changes related to sexual activity
• Inordinate amounts of time spent obtaining sex, being
sexual, and recovering from sexual experiences
• Neglect of important social, occupational, or
recreational activities because of sexual behavior

Fortunately, there is a quick and simple self-assessment for people to take when they think they might be a sex addict. This test is found at the back of this leaflet, and at www.saa-recovery.org.