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Sex addiction is every bit as real as addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or food, but it gets a lot less respect. Society is not sympathetic to it, and many sex addicts don't even know for sure they suffer the condition.

A Sex Addiction Questionnaire

Sex addiction is every bit as real as addiction to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and food, but it gets a lot less respect. Society as a whole is not sympathetic to sex addiction, and many sex addicts don't even know for sure they suffer the condition. If you are concerned that you might be a sex addict, or if you simply are concerned that you might be engaged in behaviors that sex addicts do, then consider the following yes or no questions.

Certain medications stimulate the desire for sex. The drug bromocriptine (Parlodel) is used to treat discharges from the nipples, failure to have periods, and infertility in women, as well as micropenis in men and acromegaly and type 2 diabetes in both sexes. By stimulating dopamine receptors in the brain, it can also make users "horny all the time."

The anti-Parkinson's drug pramipexole (Mirapex) can also cause users to have strong sexual urges, made all the more difficult to control as Parkinson's interferes with "executive function," or good judgment. If your concerns about sex addiction began when you started a medication, have a frank talk with your physician and your pharmacist about possible side effects of the drug.

Some medications help diminish the desire for sex

Psychiatrists at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota report success in treating a male sex addict with a combination of the anti-addictive medication Naltrexone (marketed as Revia and Depade) and the antidepressant sertraline (marketed as Zoloft and Lustral). When this patient first came to the clinic for help at the age of 24, he reported that his obsession with sex had taken over his entire life. He reported that he would spend many hours online chatting about sex, engage in extended masturbation sessions, and occasionally meet his online contacts for spontaneous, unprotected sex. The patient was concerned about losing his marriage and his job.

At the age of 10, this man had discovered his grandfather's cache of dirty magazines. In his teenage years, he ran up enormous phone bills calling 900 numbers. A conservative Christian, he at first called his actions a sin and attributed them to "negative influences of the devil." Graduating from college, he chose a job with 24-hour online access, and even after marriage made a practice of staying many hours after work to watch porn and engage in extended masturbation sessions at his desk.

Over a period of 7 years, this patient tried psychological counseling, pastoral counseling, individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, reparative therapy, Sexual Addicts Anonymous, and antidepressants. Nothing helped him control his sexual urges until he was put on a combination of the two drugs.

The medications took about two weeks to begin to help with control of sexual urges. It took several more months to find the optimal dose. After three years of medication, he reports that he "occasionally slips" but has no desire to meet people for anonymous sex, and that he no longer abuses alcohol. He reports he continues to be married, unhappily.

Counseling and support groups sometimes work wonders. When they do not, sometimes medication may do what psychotherapy cannot. Sex addicts should seek medical advice early in their recovery to begin to reverse the negative effects of their lifestyle choices.