Teen Sex Addiction

Contrary to the belief of many that sexual addiction is an adult issue, sex addiction is a disorder that increasingly manifests in teens both boys and girls. Boys are primarily interested in graphic imagery—sexual acts, body parts, non-relationship oriented pornography—girls are more likely to compulsively seek out romance and relationships.

Common red flags that a teen may be experiencing problems with sexual addiction include:

  • Lack of empathy toward other individuals involved in the child’s sexual behavior.
  • Viewing and masturbating to pornography or on-line sexual communication for hours at a time.
  • Declining performance in school and extracurricular activities.
  • Decreased interst to socialize with peers.
  • Lack of interest in typical adolescent dating activities.
  • Secretiveness around computer and smartphone usage including erasing search histories, passwords, etc.
  • Lying to parents or others about the nature or the amount of sexual/romantic activities.
  • Sexual aggression, abuse, incest, age-inappropriate relationships, etc.
  • Increased isolation including spending long periods of time alone in a room with the door locked
  • Sexual behavior involving drug use

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What causes the addiction?

A teen’s drive to engage in sexually addictive behaviors originates from a desire to feel better, which usually means feeling less. Addiction to pleasurable experiences and substances is the fastest way for an adolescent to disconnect, numb out, and not have to experience life on life’s terms. As a result, teens most at risk are those with preexisting emotional, psychological, or behavioral disorders.

Teens who have suffered neglect or abuse, teens with mental health disorders such as ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, those who struggle with social anxiety, shyness, and building social relationships, those who tend to isolate, and those who have previous issues with alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, or any other behavioral disorder are more at risk.

Another significant risk factor is age of first exposure to pornography. Studies repeatedly show that children exposed to pornography, especially hardcore pornography, at younger ages are far more likely to eventually become sexually compulsive.

Consequences of Sexual Addiction in Teens

When teens engage in sexual behavior compulsively, their social, emotional and psychological growth can become stunted. These individuals will likely miss important growth milestones of adolescence and as a result later struggle with dating, developing relationships, and intimacy. And, of course, adolescent sex addicts also suffer many of the same consequences as adult sex addicts, such as:

  • Social isolation, loneliness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Relationship problems with girlfriends/boyfriends (as well as parents, teachers, and other adults)
  • Hours, sometimes days, lost to sexual fantasy, porn use, masturbation, and other sexual behaviors
  • Physical harm to genitalia (caused by excessive masturbation)
  • Drug and/or alcohol use/abuse/addiction in conjunction with sexual acting out
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
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