When Sex Becomes An Addiction


Since the “Sexual Revolution” of the 1960’s, freedom to express one’s sexual fantasies has increased, but it has come at a cost.  

Porn and sexual addiction is at an all time high, and the consequences have been devastating.

In our culture today, it’s difficult to escape the bombardment of sexual messages and images brought to us through the media of Internet, Advertising, and Entertainment.

Michael Castleman, in a Psychology Today article, reports that in 2015:

  • 30 percent of Internet content was porn.
  • Porn sites attracted more visitors each month than Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter combined.
  • There were more than 2 billion Web searches for porn.
  • 20 percent of mobile-device searches were for porn.
  • 90 percent of boys and 60 percent of girls had been exposed to Internet porn by age 18.
  • From 2005 to 2013, searches for “teen porn” tripled to 500,000 a day.

Moreover, these numbers are dramatically increasing year by year.  Additionally, there is no way to accurately deduce the number of visits to massage parlors, solicitation of prostitutes, hook-ups, and affairs, etc. because of the secrecy involved in these behaviors.

Patrick Carnes, a leader in the field of sexual addiction, claims that pornography is just the gateway to more deviant sexual behavior.

You may ask, “If everyone is doing it, how can it be that bad?”

Well, my mother used to ask me, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you?”

Just because millions of people are destroying their lives, and ruining others’, doesn’t mean that it’s a healthy lifestyle.  

There are many unhealthy habits people engage in, but we choose not to follow because we realize it is not good for us (i.e. smoking, junk food, shooting up heroine, picking your nose in public, texting while driving, etc.).

So, you may respond, “Hey, I’m not engaging in deviant sexual behavior every day…what’s the problem?”

To answer that question, we must ask, “When does sex become an addiction?”

Consider the following 3 indicators of a sex addiction:

1.  When Sex Conflicts With Core Values

Sex is good, but when sexual behavior crosses the boundaries of our belief system, it becomes a problem.  

Certainly, we may try to convince our self that what we are doing is not really that bad by saying…

“It’s just porn”
“It’s just one affair”
“It’s just an anonymous hook-up…it’s meaningless”
“It’s just a physical release”

But whom are we really kidding?  

If it’s not that bad, then why do we need to hide in secrecy?

The best ways to determine if you have crossed the line into sexual addiction is whether or not you can tell your wife, family, and trusted friends about your behavior, and get them to sign off on it.

Most porn or sex addicts don’t need to ask…the answer is clear.  The problem is that we just don’t want to admit that we have a problem…we don’t want to admit that we are powerless, and need help.

2.  When Deviant Sexual Behavior Is Unmanageable

O.K., you have tried to stop because your conscience won’t let you sleep at night, and you’re afraid you will eventually get caught and ruin your life.

You have tried to stop but can’t, even after many promises to your self and to God.  Maybe you have tried punishing your self to find the motivation to stop, or you have simply tried “white knuckling” your self to freedom.

But, the cycle just continues…

Sure, you may have gone a while with some success, but it’s not long before you are triggered to travel down the same track as before. 

Unfortunately, we tend to wait until the consequences have created a large enough crisis before we get desperate enough to get help.

The reality is that porn and sex addictions are a serious problem, whether you have been doing it consistently over years or a just a few times a year.  If you can’t stop, or don’t want to stop, you most likely are addicted.

3.  When Sex Hurts

Sex is intended to be enjoyable and bring life.  We were created with the capacity for orgasm, which is one of the most pleasurable experiences we could have as human beings.  

Unfortunately, our drive for sex can result in risk-taking behavior that can be harmful to meaningful relationships, and our overall wellbeing.  Importantly, it often only takes one deviant sexual encounter to set off an explosion of consequences.

When is sex a problem?  When it threatens your personal and relational wellbeing.

1. When Sex Adversely Affects Your Self:

The American Sexual Health Association reports that there are nearly 20 million new reports of STD’s per year in America.

25 percent of men today experience Erectile Dysfunction, compared to 3 percent just 20 years ago.  This increase in ED is attributed to the growing consumption of compulsive masturbation, porn addictions, and deviant sexual behavior.

Furthermore, studies have shown that people who are engaged in deviant sexual behavior are more depressed and anxious.  They have less energy, and have less motivation at work.  Their overall sense of wellbeing, and hope for the future begins to decline, leading to despair.

2. When Sex Adversely Affects Others:

Private sexual exploration and behavior is never private.  It always impacts other people in one-way or another. 

Statistics show that sexual disloyalty is one of the prime reasons for divorce.  When marriage and relational vows are broken through sexual behavior, the terms of the covenant has been violated.  The promise to love, cherish, and honor have been nullified by the sexual choices we have made. 

When sex crosses the lines of our core values, and becomes unmanageable, it is an indicator that we have substituted intimacy for addiction.

  • 56 percent of divorces involve one spouse (almost always the man) having an obsessive interest in online porn.
  • Compared with faithful spouses, adulterers are more than twice as likely to be regular viewers of online porn.

Unfortunately, the downward spiral to more unthinkable and detestable sexual behavior starts with the seemingly harmless engagement of pornography.

  • 88 percent of porn contains violence against women.
  • Compared with young adults who don’t view violent X-rated material, those who do are 6 times more likely to commit sexual assault.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

We are kidding ourselves if we think that playing around with porn and sex will not affect our lives.  Any sexual activity outside of a committed, covenanted marriage is inviting long-term problems, whether it is porn, an affair, or worse.

The reality is that most people who get started into deviant sexual behavior can’t stop on their own.  The question is whether or not you decide to get help early on in your downward spiral or crash and burn when everything in your life comes tumbling down.

The good news is that we can get free and we can live well when we decide to get the help we need.

Let us know if this blog encouraged you in any way.  We love to hear your testimonies of how we were able to help you along your journey.

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