Sex addiction: real or an excuse?

Mel Sim
Yahoo Newsroom

Some things are made for fiction – Easter Bunny. Santa Claus. Leprechauns. Sex addicts.

Hang on a minute – did we just say sex addicts? Are we saying that sex addiction is something the creative mind made up? But in the light of Tiger Woods, Russell Brand and David Duchovny pledging sex addict for their affairs, surely it is made of real stuff?

Depends on how you break it down. First, to understand it, you will need to know what exactly constitute a sex addiction. According to the Sex Addicts Anonymous website, sex addiction is defined as “a wide variety of practices. Sometimes an addict has trouble with just one unwanted behaviour, sometimes with many. A large number of sex addicts say their unhealthy use of sex has been a progressive process. It may have started with an addiction to masturbation, pornography (either printed or electronic), or a relationship, but over the years progressed to increasingly dangerous behaviours.”

While news of a celeb seeking help for his or her sex addiction doesn’t exactly cause us to bat an eyelid anymore, it does in some people cause an eye-rolling notion. Says the skeptic: “Who doesn’t love sex? And isn’t sex after all a natural human instinct? And how do you differentiate between a person who just enjoys sex from someone who can’t control the amount of sex he or she is actively seeking?”

Eye-rolling aside, experts do claim that it is a serious problem for many who before did not have a way of explaining their behaviour but now can rejoice at it being a psychological term. Say experts, sex addiction is a sexual compulsivity. Yes, sex may be an important facet to the human life but for the sex addict, it is almost as if they are compelled to have sex. Call it an obsession if you want but sex is the only thing the sex addict can think about and will go through methods to get it, much like the alcoholic who will go through any extent to get a drink.

So which is it? Fact or fiction? We take a closer look.

FACT Like all other addiction, being a sex addict can consume your life.
Just ask Tiger. When news of his strings of affairs broke, it was obvious that the golfer had been busy putting both on and off the course. And we’re talking about a very long string here! Like alcohol and drugs, a sex addict can only think of one thing – yes, sex. And the addict will go through all lengths to get to his source of addiction (for Tiger, hooking up with random women in the cities he was playing at).

FICTION Sex addiction is not even listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the encyclopedia of the American Psychiatric Association.
What does this mean? That experts don’t even believe in an individual crying sex addict? Not hard to see why when the celebs who claimed sex addiction are the ones whose affairs have been made public (easier to blame it on the addiction than the bad behaviour, they say!).

FACT The steps a sex addict goes through to get his or her fix is very much the same as any other addicts.
Like all addictions, the more sex an addict gets, the more they need to explore it, says experts. It starts with an obsession and curiosity where they will then move to the other level, where they make it a ritualization. Then, once that has happened, addicts will go all the way to find their fix. And the cycle begins. Want a clearer picture? Watch Shame, the Steve McQueen movie on a man struggling with a sex addiction.

What’s the cure?
The question that is baffling all experts. Finding a cure for sex addiction isn’t about going cold turkey because let’s face it, how do you expect someone to cut sex out of their life completely? An alcoholic may be able to quit drinking while a drug addict can stay clean. But a sex addict, who is also married?