December 15, 2012

Understanding Sex Addiction

Sex addiction. Recently, there has been debate as to whether this is a certified disorder or not. Even though there is a fair amount of controversy, people still grapple with this issue.

According to the Bay Area chapter of Sex Addicts Anonymous, sex addiction encompasses a number of different practices. For one person, sex addiction may deal with one unwanted behavior; for another person, sex addiction may deal with a myriad of bad behaviors. However, by and large, many sex addictions believe that their unhealthy use of sex has developed progressively and they state difficulty in managing this compulsive behavior. An addict lacks self control and, as a result, feels self-hate, shame, and pain. Sex addiction can bleed into other parts of an individual’s life, including causing problems with personal relationships, jobs, arrests, and financial difficulties.

More and more individuals are coming to terms with this habit, and there are those who will seek treatment with a sexual psychotherapist.

“I run training sessions on understanding sex addiction, and four years ago I might have been training six therapists a year,” Paula Hall, a sexual psychotherapist who produced the first comprehensive guide on sex addition in the United Kingdom, told The Independent. “Now I’m doing 20 sessions annually, with an average of 30 therapists at each. And when you ask them why they’re here they all give the same answer: more and more clients are presenting with sex addiction, and they want to know more about how to help them.”

The research for the guide included surveys of 350 people who were self-reported sex addictions; 25 percent of the participants were women.

“The proportion of women addicts surprised me,” explained Hall in the statement. “And what surprised me even more was the number who are using porn: 90 per cent of the men I surveyed, and 74 per cent of the women, said they were heavy porn-users. We have this idea that women are into relationship sex while men are more visually stimulated, so this seemed to fly in the face of that.”

Hall believes that it is unclear as to what exactly causes sex addition, but notes that porn may play a role in the issue.

“Porn is like the gateway drug. Just as with cannabis and cocaine, many people will use the gateway drug and never become addicted; but others most definitely will. And unlike drugs or alcohol, users don’t even realise they’re dealing with something that might prove to be addictive,” explained Hall in The Independent article.

In particular, porn may be a way to de-stress and allow individuals to work through personal problems that may arise on a daily basis.

“We’re seeing more soldiers who’ve done tours in Afghanistan and have used internet porn as a means of escape,” remarked Hall in the article by The Independent. “And as with alcohol, using porn to soothe the pressures of life isn’t bad in itself – unless and until it becomes addictive, and is the only way you can escape from your problems.”

Image Credit: art4all / Shutterstock

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