People who have an overwhelming preoccupation with anything, be it sex or apples, are said to suffer from obsession. In the case of someone suffering from a sexual addiction of some sort they are said to be prone to an obsession with sex to the degree that it interferes with normal everyday functioning.
Those with a sexual addiction issue often say that they use sex as a quick fix, a way of helping them deal with the problems in their lives. Whether those problems stem from work, home life, social interactions or questionable feelings of self-worth engaging in sexual relations is, according to these people the best pain reliever. These people are using sex as a form of medication.
When the something completely takes over the mind, when that 'something' is all that is thought about 24/7, when that obsession rules ones life, there is a problem. Sexual addicts admit to having sexual fantasies to the point that they interfere with work and other every day activities. Having a sexual fantasy while behind the wheel of a car doesn't equate with being a safe driver, nor does it seem like such a good thing if operating heavy machinery or perhaps fixing someone's car!
Oftentimes those with an obsession regarding sexual interactions feel that there is something wrong with them but are afraid to get help. Of course since this is an obsession there is the other side of the coin. They realize they are doing something rife with negativity and on the one hand it's eating away at them but by the same token they can't or aren't willing to stop themselves because they feel they can't live without what they perceive as being the best pain reliever in the world. The situation may be untenable and difficult but at least it's a known factor. Losing the well known crutches and stepping off the figurative precipice can be a frightening and often overwhelming prospect for anybody, much less someone needing the best pain reliever to assuage their anxiety.
Feeling powerless because of feeling unable to stop can develop into feelings of depression which further exacerbates the obsession based problems. Sometimes situations just seem to revolve in circles with issues compounding one after another causing more and more problems to be surmounted.
Other indicators of sexual addiction problems include inability to commit to a loving relationship. This can make some people very standoffish with others since they use sex, not as a means to become closer but as a tool to access the best pain reliever. Conversely, there are those who display obsession over their dependency to another person. These people see their relationship as the basis for feelings of self-worth. If their partner loves them they must be OK, the more sex they have the higher their feelings of self worth become.
Many sexual addicts actually don't get much emotional satisfaction from the sexual act. They may be compelled to try and try again and again in hopes of getting an emotional as well as physical reaction.
The key to figuring out whether there is a problem or not often lies with the amount of sex an individual is comfortable with. Each person is unique and is equipped with different hormones operating at different levels in different concentrations resulting in varying degrees of sex drive. Age can also play a factor here in that younger people tend to be more inclined to want sex with more frequency.
They are, after all, in the childbearing years, while as time passes the physical need for frequency generally decreases somewhat. If the desire for sexual activity is leading to destructive, high risk behavior and there is no ability to stop then the situation needs to be delved into further.