what is sex addiction?

"I have never felt so tired and drained, with my emotions and wounds open. It also felt hopeful, that with work he could change and so could I. The cleaning of the secrets with bringing them out, couldn't be done without it. Thank you for doing what no one else has been able to do: Create a window for trust to rebuild. Without it being the intensive, so many hours over a short period of time, I do not believe we would have ever made it this far. The truth would have never been revealed either to me or to himself." CS, Canada

what's in a name?

Sex addiction can go by many names including:
  • Hypersexuality
  • Compulsive sexual behavior
  • Sexual compulsivity
  • And several others
Like others suffering from sex addiction, you may be repulsed at the idea that you may be a sex addict, or, you may in fact find it freeing because the term finally explains why you seem to return to destructive, compulsive, sometimes dangerous behaviors in spite of sincere promises to stop.

sex addiction 101

Approximately 5 to 6% of the population of the United States has some form of sexual compulsivity (Coleman; Schaffer & 
Zimmerman). That means between 14,786,000 and 17,744,000 people in the US struggle with some form of compulsive sexual behavior and for every three men who are sex addicts, there is one woman who is a sex addict.

To get an idea how that stacks up against other disorders, consider the prevalence of some commonly observed disorders:
  • Schizophrenia: 0.05 – 1.5% of the population suffers from this disorder
  • Bi-Polar Disorder: 0.4 – 1.6% of the population has this disorder
  • Panic Disorder: 1 – 2% of the population has this disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): 1 – 2.3% of the population has OCD
In other words, there are probably as many sex addicts in the US as all of these disorders combined! Looking at it from another perspective, there are as many people struggling with compulsive sexual behavior in the US as there are in the populations of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Boston combined!

Sex addiction affects people regardless of education, race, economic status, religion, or occupation. Factors contributing to sex addiction may include:
  • A history of abuse, especially of a sexual nature
  • An early sexual experience
  • Experiencing significant life stressors such as challenges on the job or in relationships
  • Other members of immediate or extended family who also struggle with addictions
  • Having been raised in a family with "rigid" boundaries or a family that is "disengaged"
  • The presence of depression or other mood disorder
  • The presence of some other addiction(s)
There is frequently a history of abuse (sexual, emotional or physical) for many sex addicts. As children, if these men or women didn’t have their needs met consistently – or at all – the result, as adults, was to form conclusions in behavior as a way to get those needs met. The first, "I'll take care of them myself, and I don't need anyone but myself," leads to solo activities like masturbation and cybersex.
The other results in the conclusion: "If I'm going to relate to other people, it's only going to be in terms of their body parts—their genitals, their breasts, their legs, etc., but I will not relate to them as persons. I'll relate to parts of clothing, or videos, where people aren't real, because every time people get into the drama they mess it up, and I want this to be perfect. I want to stay in the trance exactly as I want it, and when I want it." (Dr. Jennifer Schneider).

Childhood trauma, though, doesn't adequately explain the origin of sex addiction for every addict. Some sex addicts have not experienced any childhood abuse or abandonment. Also there is a belief by researchers that some people who are sex addicts would never have gotten addicted if it were not for the powerful draw of the Internet.

Regardless of the cause, sex addiction can threaten relationships, occupation, and health. It can be a life-threatening condition.
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