In a culture obsessed with sex, it might seem surprising that we don’t hear more about sex addiction. While there is plenty of information for people addicted to alcohol, drugs and gambling, those addicted to sex are likely to find help and information more difficult to come by.
Part of the reason for this is that sex addiction, a disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and behavior, is poorly understood and difficult to diagnose. And, in a culture where sex, like alcohol, is socially acceptable and encouraged, and sexual images and provocation abound, it becomes more challenging to distinguish between normal sexuality and excessive, or abnormal, sexual behavior. By applying what they have learned about other addictions, however, experts are becoming better able to understand and treat this sexual disorder.
Some healthcare professionals do not feel that sex “addiction” is the appropriate terminology for this disorder, but most agree that the syndrome is a real one.
Inconsistency in the way sex addiction is diagnosed makes it hard to determine prevalence. Best estimates indicate that between 3 percent and 6 percent of Americans suffer from some form of sex addiction, according to the National Association of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity. Addiction to sex, which affects both men and women, heterosexual and homosexual, appears to be more common among people who also have other addictive disorders, such as drug abuse. Like other addictions, sex addiction also is treatable.
Explore More About Sexual Addiction
- What is Sexual Addiction?
- What Causes Sexual Addiction?
- Symptoms of Sexual Addiction
- Symptoms of Hypersexual Disorder
- Am I Addicted to Sex? Quiz
- If You Think You Have a Problem with Sexual Addiction
- Treatment for Sexual Addiction
- Understanding More About Sexual Addiction
Mark S. Gold, M.D., and Drew W. Edwards, M.S. contributed to this article.