A.Observing the Problem
•When did it start? I would say my addiction to sex started when I was 16 with my second boyfriend. •What are the symptoms? An insatiable craving for spontaneous, unplanned, highly erotic stimulation from the opposite sex or self. Heart rate increase, anxious feelings, and constant thoughts of what I want to happen, what is going to happen, or what I may fantasize about happening but hold back on for certain reasons. B.Learn More About It
A few investigators recognize sexual behavior among teens as reflecting historically normative behavior, and define “risky” sexual behavior among teens (particularly among older or high-risk teens) as including such hazardous activities as having multiple sexual partners, not using condoms consistently, or using alcohol during sex. These behaviors are consistent with an addictive behavior perspective, and are associated with a variety of negative consequences. In particular, in large samples of HIV+ persons, 15% of the sample may fall within a 15–29 year old age range. Currently, it is estimated that at least 50% of all HIV cases are acquired prior to age 25. In addition, several co-morbid conditions may stem from, or be made worse from, (unpleasant) repeated sexual experiences among teens, including drug abuse, experience of physical violence and dating violence, post-traumatic stress disorder, difficulty socially bonding with others, and depression, as well as unwanted pregnancy (up to 100 cases per 1000), STDS (accounting for 3 million new cases each year), and HIV/AID. (Sussman) Perhaps the most frightening aspect about the course and outcome of teenage sexual addiction is that it likely sets up a life-long struggle in which one’s focus of activity, reward system, affect and behavior are intertwined with themes of sexual pleasure. Because of what may develop as a teen, adult sex addicts may suffer the culmination of years of addiction including loss of family, job, and self-respect. (Sussman)
I met with Robert Weiss, LCSW, CAS, Executive Director, and Omar Minwalla, Psy.D, Clinical Director, of the Sexual Recovery Institute (SRI) in Los Angeles. The SRI has seen over 1000 male sex addicts since opening its doors in 1995. The two directors suggested some unique features that teens with developing sex addictions might display, based on retrospective reports they recalled from their clients. These features include:
1. Masturbation to self-sooth (e.g., after an argument with parents, when feeling anxiety), perhaps feeling drained or depressed after ejaculating, perhaps masturbating to the point of injury.
2. Tendency to try to get emotional needs met through sexual fantasy or behavior
3. Pursuit of sexual pleasure begins to become...