Sexual Addiction

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What is the prognosis of sexual addiction?

Studies show that the prognosis of sexual addictions depends on a number of factors, including the type of addiction, whether or not it involves paraphilic behaviors or, sexually violent behaviors, or if the person with the sex addiction who engages in sexually violent behaviors suffers from another mental-health diagnosis. For sexual offenders, factors that indicate a poor treatment prognosis include a higher number and more than one kind of sexual offences, having a previous criminal history, offending against boys outside their own family, low empathy for their victim, increased anger at the time of the offense, violent sexual fantasies, and attitudes that their victim enjoys it. Choosing an occupation that puts the offender in close proximity to potential victims and the use of sadomasochistic or pedophilic pornography are also associated with a worse prognosis.

Can sexual addiction be prevented?

As the driving forces for sexual addiction seem to be more poor self-esteem rather than excessive thrill seeking, interventions that enhance self-esteem and self-image appear to be key in preventing these disorders. Suggestions for preventing Internet addiction may be useful in the prevention of sexual Internet addiction and include parents educating their children about the dangers of such behaviors, monitoring and limiting computer use, screening out pornographic Internet sites, offering other activities that do not involve computer use, and addressing emotional problems like depression and anxiety, which are risk factors for developing a sexual addiction.

What are complications of sexual addiction?

There are a number of potentially devastating complications of sexual addiction. Possible medical complications include contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including the potentially fatal human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis B or C. Examples of occupational consequences include decreased work performance or attendance due to the preoccupation with the addiction. If the behaviors result in unwanted sexual advances on others, legal problems like sexual harassment or rape perpetration may result. Individuals whose sexual addiction involves attraction to minors might engage in child molestation.

Depending on the financial demands of the addiction, the sufferer of a sexual addiction may incur a great deal of debt or engage in illegal or otherwise unsafe activity associated with the behavior. Emotionally, individuals with a sexual addiction are at risk for terrible guilt and shame at their actions and the secrecy involved. They are also more likely to experience broken relationships, separation, divorce, and the many challenges involved.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/9/2015

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