Unsilencing Teen Sex Addiction
Sex is a topic that continues to be taboo. Perhaps its forbidden nature promotes secretly becoming obsessed with porn, excessive sexual activity, and fantasy. At the same time, the fact that sex is taboo can make it challenging to talk to teens about it, especially if there are signs of an addiction.
According to the Sexual Recovery Institute, 40 percent of adults who are now in recovery for sexual addiction began in their adolescence. However, some adults admit that a problem with sex actually began earlier in life. In some cases, this is due to child sexual abuse where sexual fantasy and obsession is a symptom of unresolved trauma. As a child moves into adolescence often any unresolved trauma becomes exacerbated and an obsession with sexuality might grow. Research indicates that individuals addicted to sex often come from families in which there was abuse. Specifically, one study indicated that 82% of sexually addicted adults were sexually abused as children.
However, early sexual trauma is not the only cause for an addiction. Those addicted to sex can experience a sense of euphoria, making sexual-related behavior more about pleasure seeking, just as taking drugs might lead to a high. Sexual addiction is not about intimacy; rather it is often about seeking pleasure and avoiding unpleasant emotions or interpersonal problems. Moreover, the pleasure experienced by engaging in sexual activity is often accompanied by guilt, shame, and remorse.
In fact, an addiction is often developing when sex is regarded as shameful, secretive, or abusive. An addiction with sex includes compulsive behavior where there is a loss of control and an adolescent spends large amounts of time engaging in sexual-related activity to the point where he or she is neglecting social, academic, or familial responsibilities. You might find that an addiction is present if you see the following behavior in an adolescent:
- Obsessive thoughts about sex that disrupt functioning at school, home or at the work place.
- Inability to refrain from viewing pornography or engaging in sexual behavior
- Avoiding time with friends or other typical teen activities to instead spend time on the computer or have sexual encounters.
It’s important to note that teen sex addiction is not normally associated with a manic episode, which is a distinct period of elevated mood. Although mania can sometimes include hypersexuality, an addiction is considered to be an ongoing obsession with sex that needs its own specific treatment.
If you see that your teen is experimenting with sex and showing the signs of an obsession, getting treatment is important! Excessive sexual activity can lead to unexpected pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and the intensifying of any unresolved emotions. Seeking professional mental health treatment is important if the above signs are evident.
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