When Sexting Becomes an Addiction

Sex Addiction

When Sexting Becomes an Addiction

Sex addiction is any compulsive, sexually motivated behavior that is acted out despite the negative consequences. It is also known as sexual compulsion or sexual dependency. Estimates suggest between 12 to 30 million Americans experience some kind of sexual compulsion.

Sex addiction can interfere with one’s social life, physical health, and emotional well-being. It generally does not improve until the person receives treatment. A compassionate therapist can help individuals develop a healthier relationship with sex and intimacy.

Signs of Sex Addiction

Most people enjoy sex and seek it out from time to time. In sex addiction, however, this enjoyment becomes an obsession. An individual’s thoughts can be consumed by intense sexual fantasies.

They may consistently prioritize sex over family, friends, and work.

Over time, an individual may need to engage in increasing amounts of sex (or more unusual forms of sexual gratification) in order to get the same “high” as before.

Common signs of sex addiction include

  • Prolonged periods of promiscuity with multiple partners or one-night stands. 
  • Compulsive pornography.
  • Excessive masturbation (sometimes to the point of physical injury).
  • Excessive cybersex or sexting.
  • Prostitution or use of prostitutes.
  • Multiple acts of marital infidelity.
  • Frequent unsafe sex.
  • Exhibitionism.
  • Voyeurism.

Individuals with sex addiction can have different views on their behavior. Some people may be aware that their sexual compulsions are an issue yet feel unable to control it.

They might make repeated attempts to reduce their sexual dependency but fail to make progress. Others may try to rationalize their actions.

They may deny they have a sex addiction even when their behavior causes the loss of intimate relationships, family, or friends.

Sex Addiction and Gender

Sex addiction is often considered a men’s issue, but the condition can affect anyone. In a study of university students, around 3% of men had sexual compulsions, compared to 1.2% of women. A study of internet sexual addiction found a similar ratio: 5% of men and 2% of women.

Around 88% of people who seek sex addiction treatment are men. Some researchers believe women may be less ly to seek treatment due to stigma, leading prevalence rates to be skewed. There are no data on how gender affects treatment outcomes. However, since men and women manifest hypersexuality through the same symptoms, it is ly that treatment strategies would be the same for all genders.

What Causes Sex Addiction?

There is no one trait known to cause sex addiction. However, research does point to several contributing factors.


Sexual compulsions may be a way to cope with emotional pain or stress. In one 1997 study, 96% of participants said specific moods triggered their sexual compulsions. The most common triggers were:

  • Sadness and depression (67%).
  • Happiness (54%).
  • Loneliness (46%).

Brain Chemistry

Research suggests people with sex addiction may have neurochemical differences in their brain’s reward center. Chemicals released during sex, such as dopamine and oxytocin, may create a «high» similar to that obtained from the use of drugs or alcohol. A person may develop an addiction to this pleasure, requiring more sex to get the same feeling. 


Androgen is a sex hormone that affects libido. When the body makes too much androgen, it may increase a person’s risk of sex addiction.

History of abuse

A large majority of people with sex addiction report a history of abuse.

In many cases, sex addiction is caused by multiple factors working in tandem.

Sexual Addiction and Mental Health

Most cases of sex addiction occur alongside other mental health issues. The most common comorbidities include:

Additional mental health issues can make sex addiction more severe. In some cases, a person may be using sexual activities to cope with emotional distress or past trauma. Thus, therapy for sex addiction will often treat all of a person’s diagnoses, not just the sexual compulsion.

The Controversy Around Diagnosing Sex Addiction

The scientific community has long debated whether sex addiction is a “real” diagnosis. The World Health Organization recognizes sex addiction as its own mental health condition, while the American Psychological Association does not. 

Some individuals claim that behaviors we classify as sex addiction are ly symptoms of other conditions. For example, people with bipolar can develop hypersexuality during a manic episode. They may have trouble controlling their sexual behaviors during this period. Others argue that sexual compulsions can and do occur independently of other diagnoses. 

Stigma is also large concern in the debate. In the past, women, people in the LGBTQ+ community, and other marginalized identities have been censured for displaying “too much” sexuality.

Clinicians diagnosed overtly sexual women with nymphomania and “cured” the condition by removing the labia or cutting the clitoris. Some gay men, including the famous codebreaker Alan Turing, were chemically castrated to reduce their libidos.

As such, many people are wary that a diagnosis of “sex addiction” will be used to pathologize marginalized communities or people with naturally high sex drives.

Proponents of the diagnosis believe sex addiction can be distinguished from cultural expectations.

According to the current framework, sex addiction is characterized not by the amount or type of sex a person has, but by how these sexual activities affect a person’s well-being.

Casual sexual encounters, consensual BDSM, or responsible pornography use do not indicate sexual addiction. It’s only when these behaviors grow the person’s control and sabotage their emotional health that they can be called sexual compulsions.

If you believe that you or a loved one has a sex addiction, you can find a therapist here.


  1. Ajegena, B. K., Oti Baba, V., & Usman, B. A. (2018). Sex and sexual addiction in the United States of America: An overview of its epidemiology, management and prevention strategies. Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 9(5). Retrieved from https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/sex-and-sexual-addiction-in-the-united-states-of-america-an-overview-of-its-epidemiology-management-and-prevention-strategies-2155-6105-1000366-105540.html
  2. Brain activity in sex addiction mirrors that of drug addiction. (2014, July 11). Retrieved from http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/brain-activity-in-sex-addiction-mirrors-that-of-drug-addiction#sthash.3dUKxI0G.dpuf
  3. Broomfield, M. (2016, April 16). GCHQ apologises for the ‘horrifying’ treatment of Alan Turing and discrimination against other LGBT people. The Independent. Retrieved from  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/gchq-apology-horrifying-treatment-alan-turing-lgbt-people-a6987021.html
  4. Carnes, P. (2012). Sexual Addiction, Assessment & Treatment [PowerPoint]. Retrieved from http://www.iitap.com/images/SexAddiction101.ppt
  5. Derbyshire, K. L., & Grant, J. E. (2015, May 27). Compulsive sexual behavior: A review of the literature. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 4(2), 37-43. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4500883
  6. Dryden-Edwards, R. (2014, July 10). Sexual Addiction: Get Facts on Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/sexual_addiction/article.htm
  7. Kafka, M. P. (2010). Hypersexual disorder: A proposed diagnosis for DSM-V. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39(2), 377-400. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10508-009-9574-7
  8. Klein, M. (2003). Sex addiction: A dangerous clinical concept. SIECUS Report, 31(5), 8. Retrieved from http://www.ejhs.org/volume5/SexAddiction.htm
  9. Nordqvist, C. (2017, December 20). What Is Sexual Addiction? Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182473.php
  10. Weiss, R. (2011, September 18). Can Women Be Sex Addicts? Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/16113-women-sex-addicts.html

Last Update:01-29-2019

Источник: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/sex-addiction

Is Sexting Healthy Or Is It A Compulsion?

When Sexting Becomes an Addiction

Sexting may have cost Anthony Weiner his marriage and relationship with his family.

In a recent article by CNN, sexting for at least the third time we know of, has created significant negative consequences in his life.

Is Sexting Healthy For My Relationship?
Negative Consequences

So we ask the question: Is sexting healthy?

The answer, most things in life is, well maybe, maybe not.

As sex addiction experts in the Dallas area, we deal with this issue frequently and everyone wants to know the answer.

So let’s look a little closer, no pun intended.

Is The Behavior Healthy?

To be healthy behavior, it seems sexting would not be hidden from others — a wife or partner. The behavior would be affirming, nurturing, and relationship enhancing.

Unhealthy compulsive sexting on the other hand, would ly have negative consequences to the sexter (Great New Word!).

In a committed relationship, where a couple is being romantic, sexting could be part of courtship and enhance the relationship — be part of arousal, romance and intimacy. But wait a moment, what makes sexting harmful? Sexting — or exhibitionism?

Is The Behavior Harmful?

If there are negative consequences which increase over time, more risky and harmful behaviors needed to feel the same way, or there is an inability to stop the behavior, then we would say the sexting is harmful.

Exhibitionism — a perversion of healthy courtship, and of flirtation and demonstration, is an attempt to get sexual gratification by the exposure of one’s genitals.

At Lifeworks Recovery, we are trained to look at a persons behavioral history, along with their trauma and attachment history, to then make an informed decision about whether or not the persons behavior is compulsive, impulsive or not.

In the case of sexting, whether it is part of healthy courtship, attraction, flirtation and demonstration, or a perversion of this healthy process for the gratification and shock value of the behavior.

Definitely consent plays a part, however, the bigger question is the behavior compulsive or part of sexual hyperarousal disorder?

When people are sexually compulsive or sexually addictive, we will find certain historical indicators called collateral indicators.

Some examples of collateral indicators are:

  • There are severe consequences of the sexual behavior.
  • The sexter could feel depression related to sexual acting.
  • Possibly the depression related to sexual aversion, or the control side of the cycle.
  • We could find a history of sexual abuse.
  • Maybe a history of physical abuse.
  • Emotional abuse is a common finding in compulsive sex.
  • The dexter describes sexual life in self-medicating terms, such as to sleep or reduce anxiety.
  • We learn that there is a persistent pursuit of high-risk or self-destructive behavior.
  • We observe sexual arousal exists to high-risk or self-destructive behavior. (Texting with our son next to us perhaps)
  • Often, compulsive sexuality meets the diagnostic criteria for other addictive disorders.
  • Many will have some addiction interaction, simultaneously using sexual behavior in concert with other addictions.
  • Sexually addicted and compulsive people will have a history of deception around sexual behavior.
  • We will learn or observe other members of the family are addicts, possibly for generations.
  • There will be extreme self-loathing because of sexual behavior, sometimes their awareness.
  • The dexter won’t have intimacy with others, and no intimate relationships that are not sexual.
  • Sexually compulsive or hyper sexually aroused persons often come from a chaotic family system.
  • Unhealthy sexting usually brings people in crisis because of sexual matters.
  • Sexual behaviors that are unhealthy may develop from a rigid and inflexible family system.
  • We often hear and observe through history an experiences of diminished pleasure for same sexual experiences.

Having 6 or more of these collateral indicates tells us there may be a problem with compulsive sexual behavior. Only a trained professional can help assess, but if these fit for you Contact Us Today.

Is An Attachment Disorder Present?

When our parents attune to us in a warm, caring and consistent way, we develop a secure bond attachment with them and are secure in our relationships as adults.

Therefore, securely attached people aren’t ly to be sexting in a manner that is harmful, and are not ly to sext outside of a committed relationship.

Insecurely attached adults tend to be highly suspicious and anxious in close relationships, and have difficulty being romantic in the first place.

Taking into consideration a persons behavioral history, their collateral indicators, trauma history and attachment styles will assist in understanding whether sexting is healthy or not.

In conclusion, sexting could be part of a healthy relationship between two secure adults. While a rather new addition to sexuality, sexting is becoming socially acceptable. It also can be very harmful when driven from compulsion and insecurity, and the negative consequences are staggering — loss of career, legal issues, loss of marriage, family and friends.

Источник: https://lifeworksrecovery.com/is-sexting-healthy-or-is-it-a-compulsion/

Addicted To Sexting: Why You Can’t Stop

When Sexting Becomes an Addiction

We find ourselves incessantly glued to our phones for a variety of reasons. According to statistics, 81% of Americans own a smartphone. This only shows how much technology is already a huge part of our lives.

People use smartphones for different purposes such as work, emails, chatting with friends, , Instagram, , or maybe checking out the latest trendy app.

But there’s one smartphone activity that has become quite popular: sexting.

It might surprise you to know that 74% of Americans confessed that they are most ly to engage in sexting. And that 67% of global respondents have engaged in sexting. While some people believe that there’s nothing wrong with sending consensual sexual messages, there are also people who admitted that they have been addicted to the act.

Sexting: Why people do it

It’s harmless. This is probably one of the most common excuses of people who engage or who have engaged in sexting before. Sexting is a term that refers to the act of sending sexual or explicit messages through text messaging. With instant messaging becoming more advanced, sexting has progressed to include images, emojis, videos, and voice recording.

Sexting is different from the old-fashioned “phone sex”. With phone sex, you have to give your phone number, arrange a mutual time to speak, and then speak to the person. If you live with other people, in a dorm or if you have roommates, having phone sex may be inconvenient or difficult to arrange.

Sexting, on the other hand, is much easier. Because you’re sending messages, you can be inconspicuous. You can do it anytime and anywhere without really thinking about anybody around you finding out.

You don’t even need to provide your personal phone number because there are now many apps that can facilitate instant messaging by just creating a profile. Un phone sex, sexting does not require you to commit to a particular time.

Usually, people send sext messages at their availability and convenience.

People engage in sexting to gain sexual gratification. It’s similar to watching porn but instead of being a one-way sexual activity, the involvement of another person makes the act more exciting. Some people refer to sexting as personalized porn, especially if the other party is willing to send explicit images.

Sexting is often used as a convenient sexual outlet for partners who are in long-distance relationships. Of course, people also sext just for fun, to pass the time, or to find new partners. If you’re on an app Tinder or Grindr, it’s even possible to message multiple people.

Is sexting addiction a real thing?

How do you know if you are already addicted to sexting? Some experts believe that sexting addiction is a form of sex addiction, which is a behavioral addiction. While you’re not physically engaging in sexual intercourse, the type of “high” or “euphoria” that you get from sexting can influence you to keep on doing the activity.

Just porn addiction, you can tell if sexting is becoming an addiction if it is already interfering with your normal routine, affecting your personal relationships, or causing you to be unproductive.

For example, would you rather engage in sexting for hours instead of studying for your final exams, even if you are aware that this will cause you to fail? Or maybe you are spending more time sexting with strangers rather than attending a get-together with your family.

Another example is if you keep on sexting secretly behind the back of your spouse or real-life partner, even if it will risk your relationship.

Aside from the time spent on sexting, another sign of addiction is sexting with multiple partners simultaneously, without the intention of developing a personal relationship.

There are instances when sexting is a natural progression when you meet a new person online.

But if you look for people just to sext, without really caring who they are as long as you’re getting your “fix” then this could be a sign that you’re hooked.

How to cope with a sexting addiction

Sexting is a form of a behavioral addiction and it can be challenging to stop doing it because the act taps into the pleasure centers of your brain. Another factor why you can’t stop is because you’re stuck to your smartphone all day, and let’s face it, it’s not possible or even practical not to have a smartphone with you in these times.

So what can you do to control your sexting addiction? Here are some suggestions that could help if you really want to control the habit.

  1. Delete the dating and messaging apps on your phone.
  2. Sort out your contact list and delete you’re sexting partners
  3. Keep your phone away from your bedroom when you’re about to sleep
  4. To avoid sexting boredom, engage in physical activities sports, exercise, or outdoor activities
  5. Find a wholesome pleasurable activity that you enjoy watching your favorite TV program, eating out with friends, starting a new hobby, etc.

If you are dealing with a serious addiction problem, see professional help.

If your condition is related to substance abuse, contact Anaheim Lighthouse today.

Источник: https://anaheimlighthouse.com/blog/addicted-to-sexting-why-you-cant-stop/

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