Sexual Addiction Diagnosis

(Also Known As: Sex Addict Diagnosis, Sexaholic Diagnosis, Sexual Impulses Diagnosis)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How is Sexual Addiction Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of sexual addiction is commonly derived from non-specific criteria for addictive disorders and the preliminary diagnosis of the disorder is usually derived from the definition of addiction. The definition of sexual addiction consists of two key features: 6

  • Recurrent failure to control the sexual behavior
  • Continuation of the sexual behavior despite the negative and harmful consequences

There are also different diagnostic criteria in terms of: 7

Proposed Addiction Model

  • Maladaptive pattern of behavior that leads to clinically significant distress and impairment, that are manifested by three or more of the following symptoms that occur within the same 12 month period:
    • Tolerance with increased amount of intensity of the behavior to achieve the desired effects.
    • Marked diminished effect with continued involvement in the behavior at the same level of intensity.
    • Withdrawal
    • Behavior that is engaged in over a longer period at higher intensity than was intended.
    • Persistent desire and unsuccessful efforts to control the behavior
    • Great deal of time spent in activities that are necessary to prepare for the behavior or to recover from its effects.
    • The behavior continues despite knowing they have a persistent, recurrent physical and psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the behavior.

Proposed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

  • Compulsivity
  • Continuation despite consequences
  • Obsession

Other Proposed Criteria is based on chemical dependency literature where sexual addiction is diagnosed upon identifying 3 or more of the following: 8

  • Preoccupied with persistent craving for sex
  • Frequent engagement in more sex partners than intended.
  • Thinking of sex to the detriment of other activities, and engaging in excessive sexual practice despite their desire to stop.
  • Spending considerable time in activities that are related to sex, such as spending hours visiting pornographic web sites.
  • Neglect of obligations, such as school, work or family, in pursuit of sex.
  • Continual engagement in sexual behavior despite the negative consequences
  • Escalating scope or frequency of sexual activity to achieve the desired effects, such as frequent visit to prostitutes
  • Irritability in failure to engage in the desired sexual behavior.

Could You Have Sexual Addiction?

Sexual Addiction Topics

Related Conditions

Drug Addiction – drug dependency, substance abuse, drug tolerance, withdrawal, intoxication, compulsion to use drugs, addiction
Gambling Addiction – compulsiveness to gamble, impulsive gambling, addiction, uncontrolled gambling, pathological gambling
Impulse Control Disorder – impulsiveness, compulsive behavior, kleptomania, pathological gambling, pyromania, obsessive compulsive
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – intrusive, repetitive thoughts, compulsiveness, obsessive personality, perfectionist
Paraphilias – persistent sexual interest, uncontrolled sexual behavior, pedophilias, sadism