Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What is sex addiction?

POMEGA5 -- addiction to skin care

Sexual addiction is best described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Like all addictions, its negative impact on the addict and on family members increases as the disorder progresses. Over time, the addict usually has to intensify the addictive behavior to achieve the same results.

For some sex addicts, behavior does not progress beyond compulsive masturbation or the extensive use of pornography or phone or computer sex services. For others, addiction can involve illegal activities such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, child molestation or rape.

Sex addicts do not necessarily become sex offenders. Moreover, not all sex offenders are sex addicts. Roughly 55 percent of convicted sex offenders can be considered sex addicts.

About 71 percent of child molesters are sex addicts. For many, their problems are so severe that imprisonment is the only way to ensure society’s safety against them.

Society has accepted that sex offenders act not for sexual gratification, but rather out of a disturbed need for power, dominance, control or revenge, or a perverted expression of anger. More recently, however, an awareness of brain changes and brain reward associated with sexual behavior has led us to understand that there are also powerful sexual drives that motivate sex offenses.

The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” In other words, a sex addict will continue to engage in certain sexual behaviors despite facing potential health risks, financial problems, shattered relationships or even arrest.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, Volume Four describes sex addiction, under the category “Sexual Disorders Not Otherwise Specified,” as “distress about a pattern of repeated sexual relationships involving a succession of lovers who are experienced by the individual only as things to be used.” According to the manual, sex addiction also involves “compulsive searching for multiple partners, compulsive fixation on an unattainable partner, compulsive masturbation, compulsive love relationships and compulsive sexuality in a relationship.”

Increasing sexual provocation in our society has spawned an increase in the number of individuals engaging in a variety of unusual or illicit sexual practices, such as phone sex, the use of escort services and computer pornography. More of these individuals and their partners are seeking help.

The same compulsive behavior that characterizes other addictions also is typical of sex addiction. But these other addictions, including drug, alcohol and gambling dependency, involve substances or activities with no necessary relationship to our survival. For example, we can live normal and happy lives without ever gambling, taking illicit drugs or drinking alcohol. Even the most genetically vulnerable person will function well without ever being exposed to, or provoked by, these addictive activities.

Sexual activity is different. Like eating, having sex is necessary for human survival. Although some people are celibate — some not by choice, while others choose celibacy for cultural or religious reasons — healthy humans have a strong desire for sex. In fact, lack of interest or low interest in sex can indicate a medical problem or psychiatric illness
According to proponents of the concept, sexual addicts may enjoy frequent sexual intercourse and other sexual activities including sexual fantasies, but the key to this addiction is more the enjoyment of the journey rather than the destination. That is, sexual addicts do not require an orgasmic event in order to feel accomplished in the pursuit of their addiction. This is why sex addicts are sometimes referred to as "chemical addicts", because of the high dose of brain chemicals that are released during sexual activity, arousal and sexual fantasizing. This heavy dose of brain chemicals is what the sex addict is really after (although many do not even realize it). Some reports indicate that these chemicals are hundreds of times more addictive than heroin or cocaine.
While sexually, and even romantically, stimulating activities are what they seek, internally the shot of brain chemicals released when they engage in these activities is what they crave. One such brain chemical released by their activities is the "feel good" neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine levels rise dramatically when they are engaged in romantically and sexually enjoyable activities. It is this heightened level that provides them with a feeling of euphoria. An orgasm boosts this level even higher. Certain illegal drugs also facilitate the same release, for example methamphetamines or cocaine. These drugs are believed to raise the level of dopamine in the brain to as much as thirty times that which is present during an orgasm. This makes these drugs' effects on the brain extremely enjoyable and highly desirable to people seeking mood elevation.

Individuals who experience mood issues and discover the soothing effects brought on by these brain chemicals quickly learn which behaviors can effectively repeat the experience. Thereafter, a cascading effect begins. Already prone toward tendencies for compulsive or obsessive behavior, the sexual addict starts repeating 'rewarding' activities with a repetition that quickly creates a conditioned response
Over time, however, the constant release of these mood-elevating brain chemicals into the body causes them to lose their effectiveness and so addicts find themselves needing to increase, vary or intensify their activities more in order to achieve a similar effect
(Interestingly, the brain chemical releases triggered by the sexual addict are similar to those experienced by gamblers and food addicts.)

According to proponents of the sexual addiction concept, the addict's obsessive / compulsive tendencies can also be seen by the frequency with which they use masturbation for stimulation. Quite often they will perform this activity to the point of injury or to where it interferes significantly with ordinary life. For some addicts, it can even reach a point where the masturbatory activities replace their desire for sexual interactions with others. When a sexual addict does feel comfortable enough to involve other people, quite often they seek out strangers for anonymous sex or look for 'new love' through infidelity. Prostitutes are also employed because of their anonymity and non-judgmental willingness to engage in the sometimes unconventional sexual requests of sex addicts. The varying nature of a sexual addict's activities are in sharp contrast to individuals who commonly prefer more narrowly focused sexual activities such as those engaging in fetishism. But this is not to say that sex addicts cannot be found pursuing fetishes.

As mentioned before, a key feature of sexual addiction is its supposedly compulsive, unmanageable nature. Whereas a normal person might stare as they drive past an attractive person, a sexual addict will drive around the block to stare again. They may even plan future ways to spot attractive people so they can repeat the experience over and over. Addicts can spend an extraordinary amount of time and money on their habit, entirely lacking the ability to control it. They often experience an almost trance-like state in which acting out can go on for many hours. As with other addictions, some addicts experience episodic binges (between which they may believe there is no problem), while others experience more continuous problems. Some sexual addicts also swing into the opposite end of the spectrum, engaging in sexual anorexia, where they so tightly control themselves that they have absolutely no sexual experiences. This does not control or cure the basic compulsion but, like food addictions, is simply another manifestation of the addiction.

Some sexual addicts act in more intrusive ways or progress to them as they experience diminishing "highs" for their original activities. A Level 2 addict might include voyeurism, exhibitionism, and frotteurism. A Level 3 addict involves much more serious and intrusive sexual offenses, and has more harmful consequences.
Craig Lumis is not addicted to sex

Michael Hertov
Ashley Alexandra Dupre
What should his wife do?
by Alisyn Camerota
$80,000 dollars spent on hookers? No wonder his wife is mad. As if the crime itself isn’t bad enough, turns out Governor Elliot Spitzer is reportedly a repeat offender and he’s squandered tens of thousands on prostitutes during the past 10 years. What should his wife do next?
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