Signs of Sex Addiction

Love, Heartbreak

A comprehensive list of the signs of sex addiction

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC
Psychotherapist/Professional Trainer/Author


Author of The Human Magnet Syndrome:
Why We Love People Who Hurt Us
Click Here for an Excerpt      Buy a Copy of My New Book


Signs of Sexual Addiction (Based upon Patrick Carnes work)

1. Loss of Control

• Out of control sexual behavior predominates
• The addicts cannot control the extent, duration and regularity of his/her sexual behavior
• Behavior excesses continue despite clear signs of danger (consequences)
– Compulsive masturbation
– Compulsive pornography use
– Chronic affairs
– Exhibitionism: intrusive “flaunting/showing”
– Dangerous sexual practices, i.e., asphyxiation
– Prostitution
– Anonymous sex (at porn shops, bars, etc.)
– Voyeurism: intrusive “watching”

2. Continuation Despite Consequences
• Social Consequences
– Loss of marriage/primary relationship, friendships and social networks
– Problematic relationships with spouse, family and/or significant others
• Emotional Consequences
– Depression, anxiety, fear, etc.
– Suicidal thoughts, plans and/or attempts (70% have thought about it)
• Physical Consequences
– Injury due to frequency and type of behaviors
– Sexually-transmitted diseases
– Unwanted pregnancies or abortions
– Sleep disturbances
• Legal Consequences
– Arrests for sexual crimes (voyeurism, lewd conduct, etc.),
– Loss of job, licensure, and/or professional status
– Sexual harassment charges
– Fines, legal fees, probation, or incarceration
– Being on the Sexual Offender Database
• Financial Consequences
– Costs of pornography, prostitutes, and phone sex can cause financial hardships
– Loss of productivity, creativity and/or employment
– Loss of career opportunities
– Bankruptcy

3. Efforts to Stop
• Repeated specific attempts to the behavior, which fail
• Even after multiple life changing consequences, the sex addict cannot stop — Leads to further frustration, anger, shame and depression
– Frustration fuels further episodes of addictive behavior)

4. Loss of Time
• Significant amounts of time lost doing and/or recovering from the behavior

5. Inability to Fulfill Obligations
• The behavior interferes with work, school, family, and friends
• High-risk behavior is continued despite responsibilities and expectations
• A pattern of broken promises and failures

6. Ongoing Desire or Effort to Limit Sexual Behavior
• Repeated but futile attempts to change, limit or stop addictive behavior
• Breaking promises to change, limit or stop behavior
• Cross Addictions: substituting or transferring another addiction to aid in stopping or controlling sexual cravings
– Workaholism
– Overeating
– Alcohol abuse
– Illegal and prescribed drug abuse
– Compulsive gambling
– Religious Addiction
Romance addiction

7. Preoccupation (Obsession about or because of behavior)

• Sexual obsession and fantasy as a primary coping strategy
• Elevated levels of arousal are used to cover up feelings
• Sex becomes a primary drug to numb, “medicate” and/or regulate emotions
• Sex is used to block out painful and unpleasant memories
• Euphoric Recall or “Sex in the head” maintains the fix whenever needed
– Secretive mental images of past sexual acting out, which is used to sexually act out again
– Its like having a personal collection of pornography to be used at any time

8. Escalation
• Amounts of behavior increase because the current levels no longer satiate cravings
– Higher “dosages” are needed to get the same feeling/excitement.
– Can cause self injury
• Masturbation to the point of injury
• Asphyxiation
– Increased levels create victims

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