Sex addiction is a devastating disorder that comes with many severe consequences. According to the website Psych Central, “Sexual addiction is best described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts.”
The progressive nature of the disorder, combined with the compulsion to commit increasingly risky sexual behaviors can lead to damaging results. Some of the most common behaviors committed by sex addicts include masturbation, pornography viewing, sexual activities with multiple partners, partner sexualization or objectification, engaging in simultaneous or repeated affairs, engaging in cyber or phone sex, risky sexual activity, attending strip clubs, soliciting prostitutes and visiting adult bookstores. The consequences of these behaviors run the gamut from social to spiritual.
1. Social Consequences
The social consequences of sex addiction can be severely damaging for individuals. Addicts unwillingly become drawn into their sexual behaviors and over time become distant to loved ones. They feed on the solitude of the addiction and find more ways to isolate themselves so they can “act out” in their obsessive and compulsive unwanted sexual behaviors. Broken spousal or partner relationships, strained family relationships and loss of friendship are all common social consequences of this addiction.
2. Emotional Consequences
Emotionally, sex addicts face an uphill struggle. As they battle their addiction, they experience a broad spectrum of emotions including anxiety and extreme stress, shame, guilt, boredom, and despair. The stress and anxiety stem from the fear of being caught. As the addiction progresses, addicts engage in behaviors that fall outside of their moral boundaries, which ultimately lead to feelings of guilt and shame. Boredom may be difficult to understand, but with addicts there is a constant need to increase the intensity of their behaviors. If they are unable to intensify their activities, then they will naturally become bored and possibly frustrated. Ultimately, despair overcomes sex addicts because they are unable to stop their behaviors in spite of their desire to recover.
3. Health Consequences
Sexual addiction can also come with serious health risks and consequences. Unprotected sex with multiple partners puts addicts at risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, these individuals tend to put themselves in dangerous situations to achieve their sexual gratification. This is particularly common as the addiction progresses and the need to intensify the sexual behaviors increases.
4. Legal Consequences
The compulsion to commit sexual acts may bring about legal consequences when the sex addict feels compelled to engage in unlawful activities. These activities include sexual harassment, making obscene phone calls, exhibitionism, voyeurism, prostitution, rape, incest, child pornography and child molestation. As the disease progresses and the addict regresses he or she takes more risks to intensify the payoff of their sexually addictive behaviors. This for some, leads to severe legal consequences.
5. Financial Consequences
Sex is a huge industry in the world today. Therefore, it is easy to understand how this addiction can lead to serious financial consequences. Engaging in sexual activities – visiting strip clubs, soliciting prostitutes, purchasing pornographic paraphernalia, phone sex, live sex shows, web cams, porn membership sites, sex toys and adult movies and so many other available sexually addictive media- can become a financial burden for someone with a addiction. Combine the extra expenses with poor job performance at work and one finds the potential for financial trouble. Sex addicts can face a downgrade in pay, or worse yet, lose their jobs as a result of poor performance and dereliction of duties.
6. Spiritual Consequences
Moreover, sex addicts face spiritual consequences as a result of their addiction. Many people who struggle with this issue experience loneliness, resentment, self-pity and self-blame. Together, these emotions are spiritually damaging. The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health states that “these consequences are progressive and predictable. The addict tends to minimize the consequences and blame others for them. When the blaming stops, recovery begins. The consequences can become the instruments for change if they can be truly recognized and accepted instead of denied.”
Therefore recognizing the consequences of sex addiction is an important part of the recovery process. However, the addict himself and those around him need to be willing to accept the consequences and acknowledge the need to change. The sex addict needs to accept responsibility in order for true change to begin.