Sex addiction can be many things. First, understand it is a disease. It may result in bad behavior, even illegal behavior but the behavior is the result of the disease, not just because someone wants to act out sexually. The unmanageability of it is what makes it an addiction.
Second, it isn't about sex, it's about intimacy or the lack of it. Sex addiction is an intimacy disorder. The sexual acting out is the manifestation of that disorder.
Like any disease, it requires treatment. Without treatment, the illness will only get worse. To try and treat one's self is folly and will lead only to more and worse behaviors than before. Many sufferers find that 12-Step programs such as Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) help but it isn't magic. One must work diligently at recovery or a relapse is inevitable.
Sex addiction is a complex phenomenon and can't always be defined in just a few words. For some, it manifests itself as an addiction to Internet porngaphy or illicent affairs. To others, it might involve strip clubs and prostitutes, while others act out in ways that are seemingly opposite to being sexual.
The reason there are so many variations is because sex addiction really isn't about sex but about intimacy. It is an intimacy disorder, not just a sexual issue.
There has been much written about this facet of the disease and there are many references in the tab marked SUPPORT MATERIALS that can help you better understand the problem.
In Intimacy disorder is when people have "trouble getting or staying close to others. Intimacy disorders can be categorized into four common forms" (Roy Rawers)
Here is a very brief synopsis of the four ways sexual addiction can manifest itself:
"Any sexually-related compulsive behavior that interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one's work environment. Sexual addition has also been called hyper-sexuality, sexual dependency and sexual compulsivity. By any name, it is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict's life. Sexual addicts make sex a priority over family, friends and work. Sex becomes the governing principle of an addict's life. They are willing to sacrifice what they cherish most in order to preserve and continue their unhealthy behavior. no single behavior pattern defines sexual addiction. These behaviors can take control of addicts' lives and become unmanageable. Common behaviors include, but are not limited to compulsive masturbation, compulsive heterosexual and homosexual relations, pornography, prostitution, exhibitionism, voyeurism, indecent phone calls, and anonymous sexual encounters. Even the healthiest forms of human sexual expression can turn into self-defeating behaviors."
Copied: international Institute for Trauma & Addiction Professionals
What Is Sex Addiction?