An addiction does not just harm you physically but also emotionally. It often makes you cycle from isolation to acting out to guilt and shame. Your addiction can also cause tremendous financial and relationship problems.
Many people with addictions deny or refuse to acknowledge that they have a problem. If you feel you need more and more of the substance or behavior to feel extreme pleasure you might have an addiction.
Sexual addiction is a devastating and destructive problem that affects addicts as well as their spouses/partners and families. It is an intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual behavior.
This can include:
- Compulsive masturbation
- Compulsive use of pornography
- Having multiple, ongoing affairs
- Dangerous sexual practices
- Anonymous sex
- Telephone sex
- Chat room/online sex
- Partner sex
- Strip clubs
- Illegal sexual practices
These behaviors are problematic when they have a negative impact on relationships, work, finances, emotional wellbeing, physical health and/or legal status. Sex addiction is treatable.
The first step in recognizing sex addiction is acknowledging its impact on your life.
The Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST) is designed to assist in the assessment of sexually compulsive or “addictive” behavior. It was developed in cooperation with hospitals, treatment programs and therapists. The SAST provides a profile of responses which help to discriminate between addictive and non-addictive behavior. Below are the questions from the SAST test.
- Were you sexually abused as a child or adolescent?
- Did your parents have trouble with sexual behavior?
- Do you often find yourself preoccupied with sexual thoughts?
- Do you feel that your sexual behavior is not normal?
- Do you ever feel bad about your sexual behavior?
- Has your sexual behavior ever created problems for you and your family?
- Have you ever sought help for sexual behavior you did not like?
- Has anyone been hurt emotionally because of your sexual behavior?
- Are any of your sexual activities against the law?
- Have you made efforts to quit a type of sexual activity and failed?
- Do you hide some of your sexual behaviors from others?
- Have you attempted to stop some parts of your sexual activity?
- Have you felt degraded by your sexual behaviors?
- When you have sex, do you feel depressed afterwards?
- Do you feel controlled by your sexual desire?
- Have important parts of your life (such as job, family, friends, leisure activities) been neglected because you were spending too much time on sex?
- Do you ever think your sexual desire is stronger than you are?
- Is sex almost all you think about?
- Has sex (or romantic fantasies) been a way for you to escape your problems?
- Has sex become the most important thing in your life?
- Are you in crisis over sexual matters?
- The internet has created sexual problems for me.
- I spend too much time online for sexual purposes.
- I have purchased services online for erotic purposes (sites for dating, pornography, fantasy and friend finder).
- I have used the internet to make romantic or erotic connections with people online.
- People in my life have been upset about my sexual activities online.
- I have attempted to stop my online sexual behaviors.
- I have subscribed to or regularly purchased or rented sexually explicit materials (magazines, videos, books or online pornography).
- I have been sexual with minors.
- I have spent considerable time and money on strip clubs, adult bookstores and movie houses.
- I have engaged prostitutes and escorts to satisfy my sexual needs.
- I have spent considerable time surfing pornography online.
- I have used magazines, videos or online pornography even when there was considerable risk of being caught by family members who would be upset by my behavior.
- I have regularly purchased romantic novels or sexually explicit magazines.
- I have stayed in romantic relationships after they became emotionally or abusive.
- I have traded sex for money or gifts.
- I have maintained multiple romantic or sexual relationships at the same time.
- After sexually acting out, I sometimes refrain from all sex for a significant period.
- I have regularly engaged in sadomasochistic behavior.
- I visit sexual bath-houses, sex clubs or video/bookstores as part of my regular sexual activity.
- I have engaged in unsafe or “risky” sex even though I knew it could cause me harm.
- I have cruised public restrooms, rest areas or parks looking for sex with strangers.
- I believe casual or anonymous sex has kept me from having more long-term intimate relationships.
- My sexual behavior has put me at risk for arrest for lewd conduct or public indecency.
- I have been paid for sex.