Sex addiction is real. It’s destructive. It’s progressive. It’s also treatable, even though some may continue to deny that the problem exists.
Even while numerous research studies, including those using MRI imaging and other brain activity measurements continue to point to the ways sexual addiction has similar effects on a person as alcohol or drug addiction, many people may hold onto false beliefs about sexual addiction that hinder them from seeking professional help for recovery.
Responses to the subject of sexual addiction can even involve anger, outrage and fear due to misunderstanding about the condition.
A recent Psych Central article explored some common misbelieves surrounding sexual addiction:
Myth: People who have sex addiction enjoy sex a great deal and view it as a source of continual pleasure.
Reality: Most people with sexual addiction feel shame, guilt, anger and a sense of hopelessness. They are unable to control their sexual cravings or urges and the addiction harms their personal lives, careers, finances and many other areas. The sex becomes a way of “numbing out” to avoid negative emotions and is usually not a source of actual pleasure.
Myth: Sex addiction isn’t real; it’s something that happens when people want to explain why they’ve had multiple sexual affairs.
Reality: Numerous studies have explored sexual addiction and how it affects the brain, among other biological and psychological systems. The effects of sex addiction on the brain’s pleasure centers have been compared to drugs like heroin, and like drugs or alcohol, people lose their ability to manage urges and cravings for the behavior even when they know the consequences will be severe.
Myth: Sex addiction is something people can just stop if they want to.
Reality: Sex addiction is powerful, destructive and progressive. It is a serious condition that requires professional help to identify and manage the multiple, complex factors that are involved and begin a path to recovery.
Some people may work to manage their symptoms and maintain recovery for a lifetime, similar to alcoholism. In fact, people with sexual addiction may also battle substance abuse or even obsessive behaviors like compulsive eating or gambling as they struggle to cope with the symptoms.