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May 2017
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Instead of approaching sexuality as a game, relationship, way of communicating, exchange of pleasure or privileged moment of intimacy, some people experience it in an obsessive way, becoming addicted to it. This problem is commonly defined as sexual addiction, as well as hypersexuality.

This addiction enters into the category of ‘non-drug addictions’, that is, pathological behaviour which includes the use of objects or harmful activities, like those involving food, gambling, work, sex, and so on. However, sexual addiction does not fall into the category of sexual dysfunction DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association, a recognised framework for psychiatric illnesses).

Sexual addiction has consequences both on an individual and social level. Sex addicts, as well as going through intense, psychological distress, progressively make affectionate relationships worse and compromise their work and financial situations. Furthermore, according to previous studies, 55% commit sexual crimes regularly, therefore sexual addiction does not only have individual repercussions, but also significant social ones.


Instead of enjoying sex in a natural way, that is, as an intimate relationship as an exchange of pleasure, sex addicts relate to sex in an obsessive way and with different reasons, such as using it as a way to get away from discomfort, to relax and destress and look after themselves.

ProstituzioneSymptoms shown by sex addicts can be varied: masturbation, sexual relationships with strangers and prostitutes, exhibitionism, voyeurism, sadomasochistic practices, obsessive sexual fantasies, purchasing of pornographic material, using erotic telephone or internet services, and so on.

Sex becomes a primary need and everything else is sacrificed for it, including health, family, friends and work.

As a direct consequence, the subject suffering from sexual addiction can develop sexual dysfunctions (premature or delayed ejaculation, anorgasmia, etcetera), sexually transmitted diseases or problems such as ulcers, high blood pressure, drop in immune system defences, physical exhaustion or sleep disturbances.

A good percentage of sex addicts have serious marital problems and problems with relationships with their children.


How can you distinguish between intense sexual behaviour and real and true addiction?
Since many patients are reluctant to talk about sexual problems, it is difficult to identify sexual addiction without asking the right questions. Due to this fact, specific tests have been created, the most famous of which is the SAST (Sexual Addiction Screening Test) created by Doctor Carnes, a noted researcher of this problem, author of numerous publications and director of the Sexual Disorder Service at the Meadows Institute in Arizona (USA).

SAST - Sex addiction


The illness is cured with individual or group psychotherapy. Diversely from drug addiction, where the aim of therapy is complete abstinence from the use of drugs, the aim of sexual therapy is returning to a healthy sexual state by means of being aware of the problems that caused the addiction. In some cases, along with psychotherapy, psychotrophic drugs are used. Treatment programmes may involve the patient stopping all sexual activities, including masturbation, for a period of 30-90 days, to show that they can live without sex. Partner participation is highly desirable for the success of the treatment.


Despite not being listed in the DSM IV as a sexual dysfunction, sexual addiction is a problem that can cause serious difficulties to those who suffer from it from a physical point of view, as well as to their social and family relationships. It is important not to confuse intense sexual activity with this addiction, for which, as mentioned, specific tests have been created.
In summary, this is a problem that can develop progressively and it is good to know about it so you understand the primary symptoms and prevent it from developing by being aware of the dangers it can bring with it.


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