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a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts

Sex addiction is compulsive sexually related behavior that has negative consequences for the addict and others in a relationship with the addict. Sex addiction consists of the same basic components as other addictions, including issues of compulsivity; loss of control; preoccupation; increase in tolerance; and failed efforts to stop the behaviors. Sexual addiction does not always include sex-offending behaviors.

Sexual addiction, also like most addictions, often starts in early childhood or adolescence and progresses through the individual’s adult years. Often sex addiction is related to difficulties attaching to primary relationships early in childhood. Research has shown that most sex addicts come from families where there is at least one parent, or both, who was disengaged or is too rigid, making it difficult for the child to feel loved and worthy.

Childhood mental, physical, or sexual abuse can also be present. It’s also not uncommon for the sexual addict to have at least one parent who has or did have an addiction problem. Children in these circumstances have no power over these adults and often turn to sexual acting-out (frequent masturbation, viewing internet pornography, phone sex, etc.) as a way of calming their anxiety and feelings of loneliness, or of having been abused. Research has also shown that 75% of sexual addicts are male, and 25% are female.

There is hope for the sexual addict. Treatment and new therapies are available that can rebuild the distorted thought processes of the sex addict and redirect their lives toward loving, fulfilling, and intimate relationships. Many men and women have come to the New Leaf Center to address sexual addiction issues and today are living normal, healthy and more-balanced lives. They and their spouses/partners report looking forward to a future together that is built on faith, trust, and a wholesome relationship.