The word ‘addiction‘ tends to be attached to a growing number of behaviours, and there have been some concerns that this is making the word meaningless. The argument is that something like sex addiction is completely different from something like drug addiction. Now new research from the University of Cambridge has found that these two condition are actually very similar because the behaviours trigger the same part of the brain.
Study into Sex Addiction
It has been suggested that as many as 1-in-25 people in the UK have a sexual compulsion and there is a growing number of treatments designed to tackle it, including rehab for sex addiction. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that sex, porn, or intimacy addiction can cause similar problems for people as drug addiction. The person can become so obsessed with the behaviour that it begins to negatively affect his or her health. Many people have argued that because it does not involve an actual physical addiction similar to drug addiction means that it is not really the same.
The study was carried out by the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, and the results were published in Plos One last week. The research involved a small group made up of 19 men with a sex compulsive disorder and 19 men who were considered healthy. The participants were able to watch either a sports video or a pornographic one, and while doing so their brains were monitored using functional magnetic resonance imaging. These images of the brain showed that those men who had a compulsive sexual disorder had higher levels of activity in those areas of the brain that are associated with drug addiction.
The Dangers of Sex Addiction
The desire for intimacy is a very natural thing for humans to have, and most people not having this regularly in their life can feel as if something is missing. There are also plenty of couples who have sex every day with no bad side effects of this behaviour; in fact, it just makes them develop a closer bond. Sex addiction is not so much about the amount of times the person has sex, but the fact that the person has become obsessed with the behaviour so much that it is negatively impacting his or her life.
Like all addictions, a sexual compulsive disorder leads to problems for the individual. The biggest dangers with this behaviour include:
- neglecting other important aspects of life such as work, family, or social responsibilities
- leading to infidelity, which destroys families and traumatises children
- those engaging in the activity usually suffer from severe guilt over the behaviour
- being associated with low self-esteem
- leading to symptoms of depression and thoughts of suicide
- leading to financial problems
- putting the person at more risk of developing a sexually transmitted disease
- increasing the risk of unplanned pregnancy
- exacerbating psychological problems and triggering anxiety
- causing a great deal of stress and become a reason for worry.
Symptoms of Sex Addiction
The easiest way to describe sex addiction would be to say that it is a compulsive behaviour that the person feels unable to stop despite the fact that it is having an obvious negative impact on his or her life. Some of the symptoms of sex addiction include:
- excessive masturbation
- excessive interest in pornography
- inability to stick to one sexual partner
- harassing people sexually and molestation
- being unable to control this behaviour
- spending hours every day thinking about sex
- often feeling guilty about their sexual behaviour
- the person previously trying to change their behaviour but failing to maintain this.