Sex addiction has more exposure today than ever, with household celebrities such as Russell Brand speaking openly about the condition; but what causes sex addiction and what does the problem entail? Dr Abigael San, a clinical psychologist at The Priory Hospital, says, “Sex addiction, like other addiction problems, is a way of escaping when things get difficult. It’s a coping strategy and it can be very preoccupying. Sex addicts might find themselves spending lots of time sourcing pornography, looking at it and trying to get hold of it.”
Most people think that a sex addiction must stem from a sex-related issue, but usually it comes from the nature of addiction itself and is more about the feeling of helplessness. Dr. San explains, “Sex addiction runs a lot deeper than just sex. Of course, factors like a high sex drive are going to be relevant but they’re rarely the cause of sex addiction.” Although it’s an easy stereotype to place, sex addiction is usually more common in men than women, but that could be for a number of reasons, ranging from the fact we might expect men to carry the addiction, to the possibility that it’s more acceptable for a man to have it. With the Internet being readily available, sex addiction has more accessibility, so anyone who might have a tendency to be a sex addict would be able to go down that path.
Dr. San believes that with the right course of action, people can beat sex addiction, “Sex addiction should be treated in the same way as any other addiction problem, which means looking at the reasons behind the addiction and building up other areas of the addict’s life, such as going to therapy meetings, where they’ll meet new people and have less opportunity for encouraging their addiction.” The best way to deal with sex addiction, or even worries about sex addiction, is to have an assessment by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, and then take relevant addiction treatment from there. You can find links to help you find a chartered psychologist online at www.bps.org.uk
To read the confessions of a male sex addict, buy the February issue of Cosmopolitan, out now.