Sex addiction

Sex is typically a beautiful, healthy activity for relationships, but when someone can literally not keep it in their pants, then this enjoyable act can become a serious medical concern.

Sex addiction is often looked down upon in the media and, like in Tiger Woods’ case, made the butt of everyone’s joke. However, to those caught in a cycle of pain, guilt and shame, this seemingly self-indulgent act brings little relief or happiness and is very real.

Dr. Arsalan Malik, a Santa Monica psychiatrist, explains that the term can be used too casually to justify inappropriate and unfaithful behavior.

Athletes or people in the entertainment industry have affairs for years, and as soon as they admit to being unfaithful, all of sudden it is due to sex addiction. Irrationality and lack of self-control cannot automatically be an addiction.

Sex is essential and an optimistic part of life. To classify it as an addiction due to bad behavior is absolutely controversial. Sex should be continued to help a relationship grow.

Someone’s overall health can improve by having a healthy sex life because it reduces stress and boosts confidence within a relationship. At the same time, it burns calories and are in tune with your sensual side.

From a health perspective, magazines like Men’s Health and Cosmopolitan encourage safe and great sex.

“If someone is compulsive around sex in a way where it is harming their relationship or preventing them from tending to their life commitments like their job, relationships, those kinds of things, then it’s a problem that needs to be dealt with,” said Dr. Jenn Berman, host of VH1’s “Couples Therapy” and “The Love and Sex Show” on Cosmo Radio.

Although obsessive sexual behavior is not an addiction, as classified by the DSM-5, which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, “sex addiction” is a common term for a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts that interferes with a person’s normal day-to-day life, including family, work and school.

“There’s a lot of controversy behind the idea of sex addiction,” said Berman. “To me what you call it is so much less important than what the problem is, and how you treat it.”

Sex is a big deal in college. Tension among students that initially seems innocent may be a gateway to sex addiction, so when a student reaches a point when they are neglecting their schoolwork because of a growing sexual obsession, then students should reflect on their priorities and be aware of the harm sex addiction can bring.

“Out of control sexual behaviors can be seen in a variety of difference, such as psychiatric illnesses — for example, what is commonly known as nymphomania in women and satyriasis in men,” says Malik.

The term sex addiction is a manifestation of other psychiatric disorders, which is the case for most situations. Additional underlying issues should be accommodated prior to looking at the sexual behaviors.

Positive aspects of sex are that it is fun, contributes to healthy relationships, and releases endorphins. Without sex in a relationship, typically infidelity arises.

Berman and Barthol both suggest that sex addicts abide by a 12-step spiritual deficit, which provides a support system and role models who have been abstinent.

Sara Barthol, LCSW, Therapist and Clinical Social Worker, says she helps her clients by having them identify their problems and reflect on the consequences of their overly-expressed sexual behavior such as sabotaged relationships or career issues.

Similar to the withdrawals of a substance abuse addict, sex with multiple partners over and over again becomes habitual and if it is not maintained, then addicts may experience a very negative emotional state, says Malik.

Malik explains that medically, when a sex addict is going through a withdrawal, their dopamine levels decrease and stress-inducing neurotransmitters, like cortisol, increase.

Malik says that sex is a normal sexual appetite, and that they need to have sex in order to have a fulfilling life.

Sex is a part of life that should not be neglected nor out-of-hand.