Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope
Newer research in the field of sexual addiction has separated this disorder from the many myths and stigmas that surround this mental health disorder. As a condition that impacts countless individuals across the world, it is important to increase understanding by distinguishing myth from truth.
Here are some of the commonly believed myths about sexual addiction and statistics that help illuminate a clearer understanding of this mental health issue:
Myth #1: Sexual Addiction is not a Real Disorder.
FACT: Sexual addiction is a type of intimacy disorder that millions of individuals struggle with. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, nearly 12 million Americans struggle with sexual addiction in the United States .
Sex addiction statistics estimate that 3%-5% of the U.S. population suffers from sexual compulsion disorders . This number is based on the number of individuals who actually are seeking treatment for sexual addiction and is likely much higher.
While specific criteria are still being researched for health professionals to officially diagnose this as a mental health disorder, sexual addiction is recognized as a problematic behavioral problem.
Myth #2: Sexual Addiction is Just About Wanting “Too Much Sex.”
FACT: Sexual addiction can be defined by engaging in “persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior despite increasing negative consequences to one’s self or others.” . Just like people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, men and women addicted to sex cannot simply stop their behaviors.
Even if the sexual addiction has resulted in harmful consequences, such as unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, financial ruin, etc.; this will not be enough to stop a person from engaging in hypersexual behavior.
Sexual addicts also exhibit other types of illicit behaviors, such as compulsive masturbation, use of pornography and prostitutes, casual affairs, one-night stands and more.
What makes a person a sexual addict is their inability to stop pursuing and engaging in these types of behaviors, even if there is a will or desire to refrain. Sexual addicts also have markedly changed personalities if unable to act out sexually, including anger outbursts, frustration, etc. These characteristics go beyond simply wanting “too much sex”.
Myth #3: Only Men Become Sexual Addicts.
FACT: Men and women are both affected by sexual addiction. Research has shown that for every three men who struggle with sexual compulsivity, there is one woman who struggles with this disorder .
Because of the cultural stigma of sex addiction that relates to women, there are many women who do not seek help or treatment and end up suffering in silence. The reality is that females can be just as susceptible to males to developing a sexual addiction.
More than 80% of women who struggle with a sexual addiction are more likely to engage in compulsive sexual activities in real life, such as having affairs, casual sex, multiple partners, etc .
With so many women suffering in silence, it is especially important to break this stigma so that appropriate help and treatment are sought.
Myth #4: There Is No Way to Recover from a Sexual Addiction.
FACT: There are a number of helpful and effective treatment methods that exist for sexual addiction. These include but are not limited to:
- Support recovery groups
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Pharmacological care (such as the use of certain prescription medications to reduce compulsions)
Treatment can range depending on the severity of the addiction, with options for residential treatment to outpatient care. Many treatment programs and recovery groups for sexual addiction focus on the 12-steps for recovery to help sex addicts find healing from their addiction.
While the prognosis of sexual addiction depends on many factors, seeking professional treatment only improves chances for healing and recovery.
Understanding Statistics on Sexual Addiction
Understanding the basis of sexual addiction through available research is an important aspect of breaking the many stigmas and stereotypes that surround sexual addiction.
By doing this, the truths about this disorder can be better understood, enabling those who are struggling to seek help and treatment for their addiction. Sexual addiction is a real behavioral struggle for many, but there is no need to suffer in silence.
With professional help, a man or woman addicted to sex can find help and healing.
- AAMFT Therapy Topic, “Sexual Addiction”, http://www.aamft.org/imis15/aamft/Content/Consumer_Updates/Sexual_Addiction.aspx
- Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, http://www.sash.net
- Carnes P. Nonmaker D. Skilling N. Gender differences in normal and sexually addicted populations. American Journal of Preventive Psychiatry and Neurology. 1991:4:16-23.
- Today’s Christian Woman, September/October 2003)
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published on November 17, 2014
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 4, 2018
Published on AddictionHope.com