Q: Can someone get addicted to having sex?
A: Yes, sex addiction is a real thing that some people suffer from. The technical diagnosis is Hypersexual Disorder. It is defined as someone having recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, urges or behavior that significantly disrupt their life for at least 6 months or longer. People with this disorder tend to spend most of their day, most days, obsessively thinking about sex and are almost never sexually satisfied. Such people also usually suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD or some other mental illnesses. Often, a person's sexual addiction is just a way of coping with other mental illness issues.
Sex and/or masturbation can become addictive, because having sex releases a large amount of dopamine into the brain. For some, who are prone to addiction or are otherwise suffering from a mental illness, this can drive a person to become obsessively preoccupied with getting this "high" over and over again. This can also drive a person to become more extreme in their sexual behavior over time (e.g., having risky sex, having sex with strangers, sexual assaulting others). If someone is suffering from sex addiction, they should seek counseling. Thankfully, all UC Merced students have 24-hour access to counseling services, which can be found at counseling.ucmerced.edu.
Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.