With recent stories about New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s being charged with first-degree solicitation, so many questions are raised. How could a man with such a reputation, such an incredible net worth and such a winning legacy do such a thing? Kraft’s charges include solicitation for sex acts at a Florida massage parlor 2 times in less than 24 hours before the AFC championship game. Plainly, what would possess someone to risk so much for a sexual favor?
This article makes no assumptions of Mr. Kraft or his personal struggles either presently or in the past, nor does it label him as a sexual addict. But rather seeks to answer the question: could sex addiction push someone to such a behavior? If so, what is sex addiction? What are its causes and effects?
What is Sex Addiction?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not define sex addiction as a diagnosable condition yet, but its symptoms mirror those of chemical addiction and even OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Briefly defined, sexual addiction is excessive or compulsive behavior surrounding sexual activities that doesn’t account for consequences to the individual or the individual’s sexual partners.
“Although sex addicts are enslaved to sex, it is far from their goal. Rather, the pursuit of sex is in service of a different goal–to dispel feelings of inadequacy, depression, anxiety, rage, or other feelings that sex addict experiences as unbearable. Like a drug addict or alcoholic, the sex addict relentlessly seeks satisfaction from an external source to palliate an internal pain.” Frances Cohen Praver, Ph.D.
Sex addiction works on the same reward system in the brain as drugs and alcohol. When the addict is engaged in sex or viewing pornography, the brain is flooded with dopamine, the feel good neurotransmitter in the brain. But like all good things, that feeling wears off and is then harder and harder to replicate. This can cause the full blown negative cycle of addiction that continues to chase that high.
Sexual addiction could be the result of mismanaged emotional regulation. At this point, sex acts as a sort of medication or escape to the individual. The addict is trying to escape the negative emotions of sadness, fear, anxiety, anger and boredom.
Sexual trauma or exposure to sex at an early age can be a catalyst for sexual compulsion. Other preexisting conditions like anxiety or depression, poor impulse control, or performance anxiety could also contribute to sex addiction, Early or childhood causes causes most often include:
- child abuse
- lack of sexual education
- abnormal/early exposure to sexual acts
- parent/guardian having an affair
Some research even suggests that genetic and hormonal irregularities can contribute to sexual addiction. Those who have a genetic predisposition to emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, or sensation-seeking behavior are most likely to engage in sex addiction. Also, those with hormonal factors like higher levels of testosterone or estrogen can be inclined towards impulsive sexual behavior.
The Consequences of Sex Addiction
- Venereal Disease: According to the USDA, 38% of men and 45% of women with sex addictions have a venereal disease as a result of their behavior
- Pregnancy: Nearly 70% of women with sex addictions reported that they had experienced at least one unwanted pregnancy as a result of their addiction
- Depression/Anxiety: Sex addicts report high levels of depression and/or anxiety as a result of their addiction. Once the dopamine rush is over, emotional levels can plummet to their lowest point.
- Low Self-Esteem: Many sex addicts report very low levels of self-esteem and use sexual acts as ways to make themselves feel more desirable or important.
- Social Isolation/Rejection: The taboo of sex addiction and rejection from others can lead to isolation, which only increases problems of addiction as well as depression and physical maladies.
Addiction of any type can be damaging to you and those your love. Bur there is hope for overcoming addiction for you or your loved one. If you need advice on next steps, Rock Recovery Center in West Palm Beach, Florida can help. Call our 24-hour helpline or chat live with us now.