- Genes: You may have a genetic predisposition to emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, or sensation-seeking behavior. You may also have a predisposition to other traits that are commonly associated with sexual addiction, like anxiety or depression.
- Hormones: As one might expect, higher levels of sex hormones like testosterone or estrogen can affect libido. If you are inclined towards impulsive behavior and have high levels of sex-related hormones, you may be more likely to engage in excess sexual activities.
- Environmental influences: Early-life environmental factors, including adverse events like abuse or exposure to sexual content, can contribute to some of the underlying characteristics that drive hypersexual behavior.
- Mental health: Anxiety, depression, personality disorders, poor impulse control, and performance anxiety might be simultaneous issues that one struggles with alongside sex addiction. Those that have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, or have a tendency toward “manic” states, are much more likely to engage in excessive or risky sexual behavior.
- Rejection in relationships and social circles can lead to other, less healthy ways to find sexual gratification.
- Social isolation: Not only does social isolation increase one’s likelihood of seeking inappropriate ways of being sexually gratified, it also leads to a host of other problems–like depression and physical maladies–that can contribute to sex addictions or unhealthy sex behaviors.
- Social learning: Watching others perform a behavior, or “modeling,” is one way to learn something new–especially when you “like” or “identify” with that person. So having a friend, or a group of friends, who engage in excessive sexual activities or porn viewing can influence you in a very subtle, yet powerful, way.
Not all people use substances, and even among those who use them, not all are equally likely to become addicted. Many factors influence the development of substance use disorders, including developmental, environmental, social, and genetic factors, as well as co-occurring mental disorders. Other factors protect people from developing a substance use disorder or addiction. The relative influence of these risk and protective factors varies across individuals and the lifespan. The following sections discuss some of these factors.
- Early Life Experiences The experiences a person has early in childhood and in adolescence can set the stage for future substance use and, sometimes, escalation to a substance use disorder or addiction. Early life stressors can include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; neglect; household instability (such as parental substance use and conflict, mental illness, or incarceration of household members); and poverty. Research suggests that the stress caused by these risk factors may act on the same stress circuits in the brain as addictive substances, which may explain why they increase addiction risk.