Phone numbers
Treatment enquiries: 0800 144 8969
General enquiries: 0800 138 8680
Make an Enquiry

Am I a sex and love addict?

If we were asked to think of an addiction, we would probably think of substance addictions such as alcohol or drugs. When specifying behavioural addictions, we may consider gambling or shopping but what do we know of love and sex addiction? Is it just an excuse for promiscuity or should we in fact regard it with the same gravity as other addictions?

Dr Vik Watts (MBBS, MRCPsych, BSc) and Mel Davis from the addiction team at Priory Hospital North London explain…

Sex and love addiction is not measured or diagnosed in quantity but instead by the negative impact and consequences associated with the behaviour, on yourself and others. It is characterised by obsessive feelings and behaviours which the sufferer feels compelled to repeat regardless of the consequences. These behaviours and thoughts get progressively worse, ultimately resulting in the breakdown of personal relationships. This repetitive pattern with negative consequences can happen both as a result of excessive acting out (sexual bulimia) or the opposite, sexual anorexia.  

Love addiction behaviours

  • Clinging to an idealised relationship, despite a different reality
  • Returning time and again to an abusive and damaging relationship
  • Placing responsibility for emotional wellbeing on others
  • Craving attention from many different relationships and seeking new sources of attention

Sex addiction behaviours

The addictive behaviour fixes a problem

In an addict, we know that there is some kind of developmental immaturity which gets 'fixed' by their addiction (whether behavioural or substance). It is believed that these symptoms are borne out of adapting to survive emotionally within their family system. Co-dependent childhood experiences such as enmeshment on one extreme, or abandonment or neglect on the other, are major contributory factors. 

Help available for sex and love addicts

Help for sex and love addiction is available through self-help fellowships such as Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) and Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA).

At Priory, we offer addiction treatment which helps with both the addiction and the underlying 'trauma' issues. The trauma re-parenting model helps someone take responsibility for moderating their behaviours through new coping strategies. Goals of recovery are to teach and enable our patients to process and come to terms with their reality and to develop and practise appropriate coping skills to deal with the feelings of powerlessness and unmanageability over their behaviours. 

This page was reviewed by Dr Vik Watts (MBBS, MRCPsych, BSc), Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital North London

Get in Touch Today

For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding addiction treatment and rehabilitation, please call 0800 144 8969 or click here to book a FREE ADDICTION ASSESSMENT. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

Contact Us

Call our Enquiry Line

0800 144 8969
Free Addiction Assessment

Book a FREE Confidential Assessment at your Nearest Priory Hospital Today.

0800 144 8969
Can't find what you're looking for?
Contact us by phone: 0800 144 8969 or Make an Enquiry