Eating Disorders and Sex Addiction

Eating disorder and sex addictions are both classified as behavioral addictions. These addictions involve patterns of Eating Disorders and Sex Addictionbehavior that are maladaptive to daily functioning, but produce positive feedback that causes psychological addiction. Eating disorders and sex addictions often begin with normal behavior that produces short-term positive feelings. Over time, an addiction to these behaviors develops when addicts feel they need to repeatedly partake in these behaviors to achieve the same feelings. Sex addiction and eating disorders commonly co-exist, as do many behavioral addictions.

Signs of Sex Addiction

Many people participate in sexual activities in a controlled manner. However, some people find that their sexual impulses are uncontrolled and are causing disturbances in their lives. Those who find that their sexual lives are out of control may wonder if they have a sex addiction. Indicators of sex addiction include the following:

  • Mental preoccupation with sexual thoughts
  • A need for greater intensity of sexual behavior
  • Neglecting social or occupational responsibilities to act on sexual impulse
  • Continued engagement in sexual behaviors despite physical or psychological problems
  • Feelings of guilt after engaging in sexual behaviors
  • Engaging in sexual behaviors that cause physical or emotional distress to others

Those who experience these symptoms often feel that their sexuality has become burdensome to themselves and others. However, these negative effects may not be enough to encourage a sex addict to seek treatment.

Co-Existing Eating Disorders

Those suffering from sex addiction frequently find that they experience other addictions, particularly behavioral addictions like eating disorders. Someone with an eating disorder may be addicted to the act of eating, as with binge-eating disorder (BED). Those with BED have a compulsion to eat food in large quantities. On the opposite end of the spectrum is anorexia nervosa, a disorder characterized by restricting, purging, excessive exercise, or other methods of achieving thinness. Close to anorexia nervosa is bulimia nervosa, which is characterized by frequent binges followed by a chosen method of purging. Those with bulimia nervosa may compensate for a binge by vomiting, taking laxatives, excessive exercise, or restriction. With each of these eating disorders, psychological addiction occurs with the related behaviors. Binging, purging, and restricting can all provide short-term feelings of control that become addicting. While those feelings of control are only short-term, the addiction continues for a long time.

Many people whose behavioral addictions begin with sex addiction find that disordered eating is the first co-existing addiction that develops. Sex addictions involve a level and frequency of intimacy that may be uncomfortable for someone with a negative body image. This leads self-conscious sex addicts to seek weight loss for improvement of their sexual experiences. The positive feedback acquired through these two addictions often feed the other, leading to a dual-addiction that is ultimately detrimental to self-perception.

Get Help for Sex Addiction or Eating Disorders                               

If you or a loved one suffers from sex addiction or eating disorders, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatments for addiction and eating disorders.