Q: Good morning Doc, sorry for giving a private message. A friend of mine needs help and I wish I can get that from you. She is just getting close to 21 years of age but her problem is inability to restrict sex. She is almost getting to the point of “can’t do without it” this has been crashing her relationships because it makes her cheat not because her lovers doesn’t satisfy her but she finds solace in having sex whenever she is depressed. Any one close to her easily takes advantage of her because she hardly says no especially if she needs it. Please, what help can you get for her? How can she stop this? What should be done? What is actually wrong with her? Thanks as I await your response soon. Good morning
A: Hallos! Thanks for your question and for looking out for your friend.
Sexual addiction can also be referred to as hyper-sexuality, hyper-sexuality disorder or compulsive sexual behavior. People with this condition are pre-occupied with sex-related actions and activities, fantasies, urges and feelings which are difficult to control and interferes with their ability to maintain normal relationships, keep jobs and/or remain physically and mentally healthy. This addiction can range from sexual activities that provide acceptable forms of pleasure to the more deviant forms of sexual pleasure.
It is thought that this addiction is usually developed, not as a response to true sexual desire but as a coping mechanism in the face of stress and/or anxiety. This appears to also be the case in the person involved here. Some other underlying conditions that could contribute to developing this condition include altered levels of sex hormones, altered levels of some brain chemicals eg serotonin and dopamine, consequence of some forms of treatment for Parkinson’s disease and also as a result of diseases like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. The alterations in brain chemicals can subsequently lead to long-term changes that produce effects similar to other types of addiction.
Symptoms of this condition include:
· Recurrent sexual fantasies that take up person’s time and he/she feels powerless to control these urges
· Unsuccessful attempts to control urges
· Urge leads to play-out of sexual fantasies with subsequent feeling of guilt and shame
· Participation in sexual activities that does not really give one sexual pleasure and/or satisfaction
· Sexual behavior serves as escape from real-life problems
· Continued engagement in sexual activities despite the knowledge that they could bring about negative consequences like STIs, loss of relationships (as described in the question) etc
· Trail of failed relationships
It is best to see a mental health professional with experience in addiction/addictive behaviors. There should be no shame. Please encourage her to seek help and understand that this is an addiction like any other and with the right support, it can be broken. Treatment is usually a combination of psychotherapy (also called talk therapy), medications and self-help groups. The mental health professional may suggest some good self-help groups. The major focus here is on groups that will help build up her self-esteem and not beat her down for the paths she has taken.
It is important though that she discovers what drives her to these behaviors, avoid places where she is more prone to exhibit them and find healthier ways of coping with stressful situations. It is a long journey but she can make it with the right support.
I hope this all works out well. All the very best!