Sexual Addiction Tests and Questions

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Types of Assessment

There are tests on this page, or links to tests, for 
Men & Women
Internet Addiction
Porn Addiction
and for Clinicians or Support Workers

  • Self assessment

    Lots of tests to choose from

    Most based on 4 or more key criteria

    Helps with diagnosis because based on 'facts' about actual behaviour and not just one's own opinion of it

  • Warning Signs

A world-leading expert on addictions has listed 10 warning signs and these are listed here

  • Be Honest

    Answer questions honestly. Do not avoid answering questions that are not strictly relevant; these are general questions

  • More Info?

Therapy and Treatments

Impact of Addiction / Problems

For more general information

Recognising Sexual Addiction

There are very many tests that can be used to help sufferers recognise that they may addicted. A Google search for "Sexual Addiction Test" produces over half a million hits!

Common to virtually all tests and questions however is the aim of recognising one or more of four things that it might not easily be possible to acknowledge.

  1. That behaviour is out of control despite attempts to do so

  2. That it continues despite awareness of risks and damage to self, family and relationships

  3. Increasing or inappropriate amount of time or energy being devoted to activities

  4. The use of activities as a substitute for, or an avoidance of, intimacy or as an inappropriate response to stress or life issues

The questions, being based on honest answers to factual enquires, provide a more frank and searching assessment or the difficulties. It may be easy to delude yourself  that your behaviour is OK, but questionnaires tend to highlight and quantify the problem, based on criteria that are acknowledged as indicative of addiction.

A few examples are given below

Ten Warning Signs

Dr Patrick Carnes, one of the world’s leading experts in sexual addiction, suggests that there are 10 possible warning signs

1. Feeling that your behaviour is out of control
2. Being aware that there may be severe consequences if you continue
3. Feeling unable to stop your behaviour, in spite of knowing the consequences
4. Persistently pursuing destructive and/or high risk activities
5. Wanting to stop or control what you’re doing and taking active steps to limit your activities
6. Using sexual fantasies as a way of coping with difficult feelings or situations
7. Needing more and more of the sexual activity in order to experience the same level of high
8. Suffering from intense mood swings around sexual activity
9. Spending more and more time either planning, engaging in or regretting and recovering from sexual activities
10. Neglecting important social, occupational or recreational activities in favour of sexual behaviour

A Test for Men & Women

Patrick Carnes has developed 'The Sexual Addiction Screening Test' (SAST) which can be taken online on his website. The test appears to be suitable for both men and women. Unlike some tests, it is quite general and does not focus on specific sex-related activities. Dr Carnes also offers an Internet Sex Screening Test. This is part of an ongoing study of addiction and the test enables  you to compare your 'score' with the average for the study.

A Test for Women - Sharon O'Hara

A test designed specifically for use by women is the Women's Sexual Addiction Screening Test (WSAT), developed jointly by Patrick Carnes and and Sharon O Hara. Sharon  is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She has a private practice in Los Angeles, that specialises in treating sexual addiction or other relationship problems. She is also the Chair of the National Council of Sex Addiction, California Chapter. The test is similar to that used for men but recognises some of the differences between male and female patterns of addiction, namely the use of sexual activity in relation to power, a sadomasochistic element and the involvement that female addicts often have with teenagers or men/women much younger than themselves.

Pornography Addiction

A series of questions specific to pornography addiction can be found in "Hope and Recovery : A Twelve Step Guide for Healing from Compulsive Sexual Behaviour"  (Hazelden Information & Educational Services [May 1998] ISBN: 156838050X - about £15 on Amazon). The book is the current basic text of SAA (Sex Addicts Anomyous) a twelve-step group for people recovering from sexual addiction.

Unfortunately, the questions do not constitute a standardised test that can be 'scored'. I have included them here because I feel they are highly relevant. In assessing your answers to the 27 questions I suggest you consider that all these questions are relevant indicators of a problem.  Answering 'yes' to some of them, such as "Do you dig through other people's garbage to find pornography?", is a strong indication of out of control behaviour. The more you answer 'yes', the greater the extent of your problem. You need to be honest, in spirit as well as in fact. For example, if you don't go through other people's dustbins but you do look in public bins or in roadside gutters then the answer to this question should still be still 'yes!'

Do you sense that your sexual thoughts and/or behaviours are causing problems in your life?
Have sexual thoughts interfered with your ability to function at work or at school?
Do you worry that your sexual thoughts and/or behaviours are more powerful than you are?

Do you sometimes think that you are the only person who has certain sexual thoughts or engages in certain sexual behaviours?
Do you fail to meet commitments or fail to carry out responsibilities because of your involvement with pornography?
Do you struggle to control or completely stop your thinking about or viewing pornography?
Do you view pornography in order to escape, deny, or numb your feelings?
Do you think about sex more than you would like to?
Do you spend more money than you can afford to spend on pornography?
Does it seem as though there is another person or force inside of you that drives you to pornography?
Do you have two standards of fidelity -- one for yourself and one for your spouse or partner?
Do you feel empty or shameful after viewing or masturbating using pornography?
Have you ever promised yourself that you would never again view pornography?
Do you use pornography to deal with, deny, or avoid problems in your life?
Do you risk legal problems in order to view pornography?
Do you anxiously anticipate or fear trips out of town because of what you think you might do sexually while you're away?
When you have child care responsibilities, do you put a higher priority on masturbating or being sexual than you do on the welfare of the child(ren) in your care?
Do your sexual thoughts and/or behaviours interfere with your spiritual or religious life? Do your sexual thoughts and/or behaviours cause you to believe that you don't deserve to have a religious or spiritual life?
Have you lost a job or risked losing a job because of your involvement with pornography?
Do you scan printed material (novels, newspapers, magazines) or change channels on the television set just to find something that will stimulate you sexually?
Do you regularly view pornography or engage in fantasies involving self-abuse or other kinds of physical abuse?
Do you dig through other people's garbage to find pornography?
Would you rather masturbate than be sexual with a partner?
Do you drive around unfamiliar neighbourhoods (cruise) hoping to find places where pornography is available?
Do you look at pornography or masturbate while driving?
Have you replaced a collection of pornographic material after destroying one collection and vowing never to purchase pornography again?
Has an important relationship in your life ended because of your inability to stop looking at pornography?

Clinical Diagnosis

This section is aimed at clinicians, especially GPs, and support workers who may be in the front line of helping patients or clients to recognise sexual addiction. However those coming to terms with addiction may also find it useful.

"WASTE Time" was created for working with clients presenting with sexual addiction. The acronym seemed appropriate, given the tremendous amount of wasted time that most clients who are sexually addicted admit to in the pursuit of their sexual behaviours. I find this to be a useful tool as I can tailor it to the client and his or her circumstances.

Each of the acronym's letters corresponds to one or more of the diagnostic criteria for sexual addiction 

 W: Withdrawal. "Have you experienced any withdrawal symptoms when you are unable to engage in sexual activities?" 

Typical responses may include irritability, anxiety, depression, anger, and/or other negative mood states. Clients may also reveal using other behaviours or chemicals to supplement their addiction to sex. 

A: Adverse consequences. "Have you experienced any negative or adverse consequences as a result of your sexual behaviours?"

 Typical responses may include broken relationships, lost career opportunities, financial difficulties, physical injury, and/or psychological trauma. This question can lead to a discussion of the activities and areas of life that have been reduced or sacrificed for the addictive disorder. 

S: Inability to Stop. "Have you attempted to cut back, control, or stop your sexual behaviours without success, even when you know that continuing will cause you harm?" 

Typical responses may include multiple attempts at stopping or controlling the addictive behaviours without success, even when faced with the knowledge that continuing poses a physical or psychological problem. 

T: Tolerance or intensity. "Have you found it necessary to increase the amount or intensity of your sexual behaviours to achieve the same effect?" 

Typical responses may include increasing the time spent on the activity, increasing the intensity of the stimulus (eg looking at 'harder' or more specialist materials or movement from compulsive-like, online sexual encounters coupled with masturbation to real-life encounters with multiple anonymous partners. 

E: Escape. "Do you use sexual activity as an escape from negative mood states, such as stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, loneliness, or anger?" 

Typical responses may include any negative mood state. 

Time (two Time domains): 

Time spent (preparing, engaging, or recovering). "Have you found yourself spending a lot of time preparing for, engaging in, or recovering from a sexual activity?" Typical responses may include such ritualistic behaviours as cruising all evening in search of a sexual conquest, sexual exercises to increase stamina, or the use of addictive chemicals in preparation for sexual activities. 

Time wasted: "Have you been spending more time and/or more resources on your sexual activities than you intended?" will elicit such typical responses as hours spent on the Internet, a loss of sleep due to an entire weekend spent on voyeuristic activities, or large amounts of money spent on sexual activities, often leading to debt. 

Clinical practice has demonstrated the efficacy of this approach as an assessment tool. An answer of 'Yes' to one or more of the above questions suggests a strong possibility that a sexual addiction is present and indicates the need for treatment.

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Page modified 21 March 2013