Sex addiction is another kind of addiction that forms maladaptive pattern of behaviour. Sex addiction develops when one persistently depends on different forms of sexual expression or activities to balance the stress in his or her life. Also called sexual addiction, it follows the same behavioural pattern i.e. sense to detach from it, repeated cravings, urge to indulge in the same behaviour, a feeling of satisfaction after indulgence in the behaviour etc.
Sex addiction is characterised by compulsive sexual thoughts and activities such as masturbation, extensive viewing of pornography, sex chats over phone or computer etc. Like every other addiction, it negatively influences one’s overall health and life. With time and negligence, the addiction becomes a disorder, thereby resulting weakened controlling power and decision-making power of the victim. Such victims become compulsive sex addicts and to satisfy their behaviour, they may restore to illegal sexual activities such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, child sexual abuse, incest, zoophilia or rape.
The important consideration in sex addiction is to understand the thin line distinction between sex addicts and sex offenders. Not all sex offenders are sex addicts and it is not necessary that all sex addicts will gradually become sex offenders. Reportedly, almost 55% of sex offenders are found to be sex addicts and two-third of paedophiles’ (child molesters) are considered as sex addicts.
The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity of U.S.A has defined sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behaviour acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” This means that a sex addict does not discontinue or disengage his compulsive sexual behaviour despite of its consequences such as disoriented personal relationships or imprisonment to safeguard the society.
For better understanding of sex addiction and its victims, it is necessary to understand that sexual gratification is not the force behind sex offenders’ act. Sex addiction is a behavioural disorder and sex offenders’ act out of disturbed need for power, dominance, failed love relationship, control or revenge, lot of stress or depression or abhorred anger. The association of powerful sexual drives with sex offences, however, cannot be neglected.
Treatment of Sex Addiction
The foremost need to treat sexual addiction is the acceptance of this disorder by the person suffering from it. The treatment emphasises on controlling the sexually addictive behaviour and developing a desire in the victim to switch to healthy sexuality. The treatment involves educating the victim about healthy sexuality, counselling and marital or family therapy. In severe cases, medical help is used to treat this obsessive-compulsive disorder.
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