Sexual addictions

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2010 Sep;36(5):254-60. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2010.503823.


The potential adverse consequences, personal distress, shame and guilt presented by patients who suffer from sexual addiction require a more in-depth understanding of the phenomenology and psychobiology of this disorder.

Methods: A bibliographic review was conducted using MEDLINE and EBSCO databases with the following keywords: "sexual addiction," "hypersexuality," "compulsive sexual behavior," "behavioural addiction," "treatment," and "addiction."

Results: Several conceptualizations of excessive nonparaphilic sexual disorder have been proposed based on the models of, respectively, obsessive compulsive disorder, impulse control disorder, out of control excessive sexual disorder, and addictive disorder. Despite the lack of robust scientific data, a number of clinical elements, such as the frequent preoccupation with this type of behavior, the time spent in sexual activities, the continuation of this behavior despite its negative consequences, the repeated and unsuccessful efforts made to reduce the behavior, are in favor of an addictive disorder. In addition there is a high comorbidity between excessive sexual behavior and other addictive behaviors.

Conclusion: The phenomenology of excessive nonparaphilic sexual disorder favors its conceptualization as an addictive behavior, rather than an obsessive-compulsive, or an impulse control disorder. Moreover, the criteria that are quite close to those of addictive disorders were recently proposed for the future DSM-V in order to improve the characterization of this condition. Finally, controlled studies are warranted in order to establish clear guidelines for treatment of sexual addiction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive* / drug therapy
  • Behavior, Addictive* / epidemiology
  • Behavior, Addictive* / physiopathology
  • Behavior, Addictive* / psychology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Paraphilic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological* / drug therapy
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological* / epidemiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological* / psychology