Can sex be addictive?
The general consensus among psychiatrists is that yes, it can be, although it's clinical diagnosis and classification is still controversial. The pleasure of sex releases chemicals in the brain that can be similar to a narcotic effect, though sex addiction is usually more of a compulsion, a psychological and behavioral disorder brought about by other circumstances and experiences. Often times those with the addiction are looking for feelings of love and acceptance they have only experienced in sexual relationships. It is complicated and varies from person to person.
Sex addiction is treatable with therapy, and there are SA Anonymous groups just as there are for alcohol and drugs.
Most experts agree that any activity can be addictive. Sex is included in these addictive activities. As humans we mostly become addicted to substances or activities that we perceive as pleasureable. Even though some activities may not be perceived as such, we can still become psychologically dependant and addicted to them.
The brain senses and perceives activities as either those that produce pleasure and those that produce pain. When an activity is pleasureable then repeated this re-inforces the pleasure centers in the brain. Hence, the person starts to crave the same activity with increased frequency. The main pleasure center in the brain is the hypothalamus. A question that arises frequently is: Is this activity or substance physically addictive or psychologically addictive. The answer is not always clear cut and may be a combination of the two. Never the less, treatment of addictive disorders may follow the same path whether the addiction is physical or psychological.