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Sex might be a fundamental part of the human experience, but being addicted to it can ruin your life and put your health at risk. Could you be addicted? What can you do to recover?

Google has a dictionary these days, and that dictionary defines addiction as "the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity". When you hear the word "addiction", drugs and alcohol are bound to be some of the first things to come to mind. The fact is, however, that humans can be addicted to a very wide range of things — both substances and activities. 

What does being addicted mean? In short, it means that the thing you are addicted to is constantly on your mind, and that you seek to obtain it frequently. Thinking about it, seeking it, and being engaged in it all take up a lot of your time. The addiction interferes with your daily life in a negative way. The thing you are addicted to is so important to you that getting it may cause you to break the law and put yourself in danger. 

Sex is many things. It is what causes us all to be on the planet. It is what brings partners together. It is relaxation, and it is fun. It can also be an addiction. 

The Signs Of A Sex Addiction

Sex addiction — also called sexual addiction — is not currently included in the "Bible" of mental disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Why? Darrel Regier, the vice-chair of the DSM-5 task force, said that it "... was not at the point where we were ready to call it an addiction". Though it is clear to sex addicts and their loved ones that this is not true, it does pose a challenge. How do we define the signs of a sex addiction when they aren't in the DSM? 

In essence, a sex addiction is like any other addiction, and shares most of the signs common to all addictions.

You might have a sex addiction if:

  • You are constantly preoccupied with sex — either thinking about it, trying to get it, or doing it. 
  • You frequently engage in sex, and need more and more (often with more and more people) to get the same effect. 
  • You might plan to stop your behavior, but just can't.
  • Sex interferes with other daily activities and obligations, such as work. 
  • You will go to great length to get sex, something that often involves putting your own health at risk — perhaps by having unsafe sex with strangers, or by masturbating to the point that your genitals are injured. 

People who recognize most of these symptoms are very likely to be struggling with a sex addiction. As with any addiction, acknowledging that you have a problem is a terrific first step: the foundation on which the whole process of recovery is based. Where do you go from here?

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