The term sex addiction has been prominent in the news recently. Depending on which side you fall on, sex addiction is either a valid medical condition or a flimsy excuse.
The term sexual addiction describes the behavior of a person who has an intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. It is also referred to as sexual dependency or sexual compulsivity. Sex and the thought of sex usually dominate the sex addict's life, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships. According to the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, an estimated 3 to 5 percent of Americans could be labeled as being addicted to sex.
Risk taking is generally associated with sexual addiction. Sex addicts engage in various forms of sexual activity regardless of the consequences which can be negative and dangerous. In addition to damaging relationships and interfering with work, sexual addiction puts the person at risk for emotional and physical injury.
Generally, a sex addict gets little satisfaction from sex, forms no emotional bonds, and experiences feelings of guilt, shame and lack of control over the behavior.
Sex addiction is not universally accepted by everyone. Sex experts and researchers still debate whether it is a true medical condition. Furthermore, if it does indeed exist, how should it be described in medical texts? The official handbook of psychiatric diagnoses, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, does not even include a diagnosis for sexual addiction.
Some experts, like Dr. Drew Pinsky, see sexual addiction literally as an addiction similar to alcohol and drug addictions. Other experts refute that and label sexual addiction as a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Still others believe sex addiction is simply a by-product of cultural and other influences.
Regardless of what it is called or the exact nature and description of the behavior, untreated compulsive sexual behavior damages self-esteem, relationships and careers. Treatment can help manage sex addiction and keep urges in check.
Sexual addiction treatment focuses on controlling the addictive behavior and helping the person develop a healthy sexuality. It includes education about healthy sexuality and counseling. There are also support groups and 12-step recovery programs for people with sexual addictions. More information about all of these can be found by doing research online. In some cases, doctors recommend medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. These may curb the compulsive nature of sex addiction.
Stacy Lloyd is a writer and video producer in Phoenix, Arizona. A former television news journalist, she covered stories around the world. Currently, she produces corporate and non-profit videos and broadcast programming.