When one thinks of the disease of addiction, thoughts often frequently move to alcohol and the spectrum of dangerous drugs to which individuals can develop strong physical and psychological dependencies. However, we’ve come to understand that the disease of addiction can be about much more than substance abuse.
In fact, there are a variety of behavioral addictions—exercise addiction, food addiction, gambling addiction, and so on—that can be harmful and destructive in other ways. Sex addiction is another behavioral dependency that has, until recently, been very poorly understood but poses very major problems for individuals who suffer from it.
Many have even suggested that sex addiction—sometimes referred to as hypersexual disorder—is actually a form of impulse control that’s characterized by hypersexuality, but there are many components of this condition that make it very similar to other, more conventional addictions; for example, sex addicts tend to develop a rapid tolerance to sexual activity, which creates the need for increasingly frequent sexual expression in the same way that an addict needs to increase the dosage of a drug to achieve the desired effects.
Sex Addiction Dual Diagnosis
Moreover, evidence has begun to suggest that sex addiction is associated with elevated rates of comorbidity or the presence of co-occurring diagnoses. In other words, research is finding that individuals who suffer from sex addiction tend to frequently suffer from another condition as well, such as dependent personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or others. According to research conducted by leading researchers, more than 90 percent of sex addicts showed signs of suffering from a personality disorder.
As is the case with other types of addiction, the relationship between sex addiction and comorbid diagnoses is considered to be extremely complicated. This is due to the fact that for a number of mental and emotional disorders, hypersexuality manifests as a symptom. Therefore, the problem becomes whether the hypersexuality that a sex addict exhibits is a symptom of a comorbid, co-occurring condition or the symptom of a secondary diagnosis.
In reality, it likely happens both ways and depends on the individual and the symptoms he or she has manifested. As such, the following are several co-occurring disorders that have shown to be common among individuals who are hypersexual or suffering from sex addiction.
Sex Addiction & Dependent Personality Disorder
Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is often colloquially called “love addiction” and is characterized by an individual’s compulsive need to be taken care of, which can reach the point of excessive attachment, submissiveness, and clinginess. Oftentimes individuals who suffer from dependent personality disorder have overwhelming fears of rejection and being abandoned, causing them to latch onto those around them in the hope of eliciting a caregiver response in the subject of their affections.
In the case of someone suffering from a dependent personality disorder and sex addiction dual diagnosis, it’s common for the individual to begin by using sex and sexuality as a means of inspiring the partner into being his or her caregiver or protector. Over time, using sex as a subtle currency becomes almost instinctive with the individual offering him or herself to potentially anyone from whom he or she hopes to become a caregiver. Moreover, sex for such an individual would serve as a way of validating the caregiver and receiver relationship as well as symbolizing the submissive role the sex addict needs to assume.
Sex Addiction & Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a very complex condition that sees individuals becoming impulsive to the point of self-destructive while having unpredictable moods and behaviors that make their relationships unstable as well. Additionally, individuals who suffer from BPD commonly exhibit brief psychotic episodes, which has traditionally made it easy to confuse symptoms of BPD with other illnesses.
The trademark signs of borderline personality disorder include the inability to regulate thoughts and emotions, reckless and impulsive behavior, and having unstable or unhealthy relationships with others. Due to the self-destructive tendencies associated with borderline personality disorder, individuals who suffer from both sex addiction and BPD often use hypersexual behavior as a form of self-harm and endangerment, particularly with regard to unsafe sex practices. In fact, individuals who suffer from borderline personality disorder have elevated rates of suicide and many other forms of self-inflicted harm.
Sex Addiction & Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition seen in individuals who have experienced or survived some sort of great trauma, which often entails having been the victim of physical or sexual abuse. Commonly seen in individuals who have experienced the horrors of war as well as in survivors of brutal attacks such as sexual assault, a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder means that the normal fight-or-flight response that we tend to feel only in situations of fear or distress has been damaged or altered.
This results in an individual feeling fear, stress, and anxiety most of the time or as a result of certain triggers that recall traumatic experiences. Individuals who suffer from a PTSD and sex addiction dual diagnosis often use their sexuality as a way to take back control of their bodies after having been the victim of a violent physical or sexual attack.
Sex Addiction & Bipolar Disorder
Often considered one of the most common psychological afflictions in the world, bipolar disorder is characterized by unpredictable shifts in mood and energy level, which results in individuals alternating between an energetic, manic state and a depressive state. These two distinct states tend to be very dramatic and severe in individuals with bipolar disorder.
When experiencing mania, they often suffer from racing thoughts that can border on delusional, making it difficult for them to focus and resulting in them often becoming quite impulsive and reckless, which is where hypersexuality often come into play.
Individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder have shown to be highly prone to a sex addiction dual diagnosis with the majority of hypersexuality expressed during periods of mania, which are also called manic episodes. Like other conditions, it’s often the thrill of risk or impulsivity that leads individuals with bipolar disorder to sex addiction with hypersexuality being a very common symptom.
Make Your Way to a New Life with Drug Treatment Center Finder
There are a number of mental and emotional conditions that can be related to sex addiction in one way or another. In the cases of those afflictions named above, individuals are often using their sexuality as a vehicle for some other feeling, which can be the illusion of control, the feeling of using one’s sexuality to inspire caregiving in another, or any number of other reasons.
If you or someone you love is suffering from sex addiction or another form of dependency, Drug Treatment Center Finder is here to help. We have a team of experienced recovery specialists available to help those suffering from chemical or behavioral dependency to find the treatments that best meet their recovery needs. Don’t wait—call us today.