Sex addiction. The term conjures up visions of men addicted to pornography or unable to commit to one woman.
But the so-called disease isn't just for men. Women are sex addicts too and some experts say almost a third of people treated for sex addiction are females.
“In America, 30 percent of people coming in for treatment for sex addiction are female,” Don Serratt, director of Life Works, which offers sex-addiction treatment in the UK, told the Times of London. “They’ll come for help with alcoholism, drug addiction or depression and, in the course of treatment, the sex addiction — the root cause of the other addictions — will be uncovered."
Susan Cheever, a self-confessed sex addict and author of "Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction," said it is common for women to blur the lines between the compulsions of love and sex. “If there is a difference between sex and love addiction, I don’t know what it is,” she said. “Sometimes people say they just fall in love too frequently. Are they saying they don’t want to have sex with those people? Love addict sounds nicer for sure.”
According to the National Association of Sexual Addiction Problems, about 14 million adults are sex addicts. That’s 1 out of 17 adult Americans. But FOXSexpert Yvonne Fulbright isn't sold on the concept of addiction to sex.
"An addiction, such as to alcohol or tobacco, is a physiological dependence," Fulbright wrote in a column. "Deprived of a fix, an addict has physiological reactions, like increased heart rate or the sweats. Physiological changes take place — changes that a "sex addict" does not experience when denied sex. Thus, the addiction label is quite deceptive."
To Ms. Fulbright I offer my congratulations that she is NOT a sex addict, otherwise she would know that her statements that "sex addiction is a crock," and the following quote from the Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous' chapter on withdrawal. Anyone who has not gone through this process might find it impossible to comprehend the physiological, not to mention the gut-wrenching emotional, reactions. However, having been there myself, I attest that there is a very real emotional and physical process of withdrawal from a very real addiction that affects men and women, young and old, poor and rich, fat and skinny, powerful and powerless, gay and straight, and any other combination of humans.
This unraveling was wrenching. We found it necessary to live through withdrawal in day-at-a-time, twenty-four hour compartments. We would awaken in the morning, sometimes very early, and inwardly exclaim, "Oh God! Another day of THIS!" Sometimes we found ourselves wishing that we had died in our sleep. Regardless of how we felt, however, we asked in prayer for God's help in facing the day at hand. If we had any grievances with God, we threw those in, too. No one was trying to force us to trump up gratitude! We were striving to be "honest," not "good."
We would then embark on our day. Living alone, as many of us were at this time, even the daily rituals of bathing, clothing and feeding ourselves became very important. Just going through these ordinary tasks was an affirmation of our caring for ourselves.
We then surveyed the day. There probably were tasks we needed to attend to, whether paying the rent, doing the laundry, shopping, or going to work. Physical activity, even as basic as taking a long walk, could get us out into the day a bit. Some took up jogging, or other exercises that required greater physical effort. These helped to provide a physical sensation of tiredness which could fill the void left by the absence of sexual release, or even replace it. Contact with other S.L.A.A. members or trusted friends, perhaps members of other Twelve-Step fellowships, was helpful. Attending open A.A. or Al-Anon meetings was likely to be possible, or perhaps we were fortunate enough to have an S.L.A.A. meeting in our area. Maybe we were trying to start such a meeting, and had tasks to attend to there.
The purpose of all this was not to clutter our day with activity. Most of us needed rest and solitude just as much as we needed other tasks, personal contacts and responsibilities. We were, within ourselves, expending as much energy as most people do who hold full-time jobs and maintain active family lives. In fact, most of us were "working" far harder than we ever had before. After all, we were working at standing still, at freeing ourselves from the tentacled clasp of a frightful addiction which had driven us to such a pitch of self-destroying activity. Simply not doing it took tremendous effort. We were suspending, for the moment, our very real fears concerning the outcome of all this by attending to those tasks immediately at hand. We were living in the immediate present, and discovering that we could indeed make it through an hour, or a morning (mourning!), or a day. And we were discovering that there was a joy to be had in successfully negotiating our way through each twenty-four hour period.