Cooper And Anthony

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Sex addiction. Is it real?

First let me tell you that psychologists disagree that there is even such a thing as sex addiction. Some say it’s a term used to sex shame people who enjoy masturbating a lot or enjoy having a lot of sex.  The term also shames people with high sex drives who go to sex workers, or enjoy porn. For people whose sex drive isn’t hurting anyone who get called “addicts” for doing what’s normal for them is insulting and inaccurate.

Those same people would also argue that the other reason sex addiction is not an addiction is because it doesn’t fall into the parameter of an addiction as defined by experts. Those parameters are very specific in the literature.  It has to do with an addiction to a substance being something you need more and more of to get the same high, which is said to be true of drugs or gambling but not of sex.

The other side of the argument is that addiction is also defined by, not frequency or quantity, but the consequences it imposes.  In other words, not how often you have sex or how much sex you have, but the consequences that sex has on your life and your relationships. If you go by that, then sex is an addiction like any other. If sex is causing you to lose people, jobs, time, or anything in your life of value, it’s an addiction.

Sexual behavior as an addiction also depends on what reward you get from having loads of sex. There is relapse, and recovery and relapse again like any addiction. Some say it’s a brain disease and not a behavior problem even though it creates motivation to keep repeating the sexual activity to reward the brain, like a drug.

The one thing we all do agree on is that there is a very small percentage of people who are truly sex addicts. The majority are people who don’t want to take accountability for their actions so they misuse “addiction” to make themselves look like victims instead of taking responsibility for their own hurtful actions. People who hide behind “addiction” as an excuse are truly hurting those who suffer and need help.

So, sex addiction does exist but it doesn’t impact as many people as you hear about. Scientifically speaking, it isn’t in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.) Tat’s the handbook for  health care professionals used to diagnose mental disorders. Also the NIMH (The National Institute of Mental Health, which is the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders) calls sex addiction a mental health problem and not an addiction.

That said, if someone you know is suffering and it’s ruining their lives, encourage them to get help. Sex addiction is treatable.