Sexual addiction is characterized by out-of-control (compulsive) sexual behavior with marked consequences.
Sex addicts use denial, rationalizing, minimizing , and lying to avoid the truth to themselves and others.
They typically have difficulty with closeness in committed relationships and use their sexual addiction behavior to escape painful and stressful feelings. The sex addict typically cycles through an addictive cycle of preoccupation, ritualization, compulsive sexual behavior, and despair (shame).The following criteria are used to diagnose sexual addiction (3 or more):
- Recurrent failure to resist sexual impulses in order to engage in specific behaviors.
- Frequently engaging in those behaviors to a greater extent, or over a longer period of time than intended.
- Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to stop, reduce, or control those behaviors.
- Inordinate amounts of time spent in obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual experiences.
- Preoccupation with sexual behavior or preparatory activities.
- Frequently engaging in the behavior when expected to fulfill occupational, academic, domestic, or social obligations.
- Continuation of the behavior despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent social, financial, psychological, or physical problem that is caused or exacerbated by the problem.
- The need to increase the intensity, frequency, number, or risk level of behaviors in order to achieve the desired effect; or diminished effect with continued behaviors at the same level of intensity, frequency, number, or risk.
- Giving up or limiting social, occupational, or recreational activities because of the behavior.
- Distress, anxiety, restlessness, or irritability if unable to engage in the behavior.