I recently heard this remark. Not sure if they were joking or serious.
I think the best way to approach this question is to ask what constitutes an addiction.
Merriam Webster defines addiction as: The compulsive need for and use of a habit forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.
With regard to sexual addiction, I have heard several definitions, but I deferred to Patrick Carnes and his explanation. “Sexual addiction is defined as any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment. It is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict’s life. “
Sexual addiction has been called by other names such as sexual compulsivity and sexual dependency. What ever you choose to call it, it becomes priority in ones life. It takes precedent over family, loved ones, and work. They will sacrifice these in order to foster their addiction.
Sex addiction is not more prevalent in any particular sector of our population. The statistics are pretty much consistent with those of recovering alcohol and drug addiction. According to Patrick Carnes, 3 to 6% of the population is facing sexual addiction. It is not uncommon for people to be struggling with several addictions at one time, but sex addiction is supposed to be the most difficult to stop.
Sexual addiction is different for each person. There is no set pattern.
Examples of how sex addiction manifests:
- Having chronic affairs
- Looking at pornography
- Anonymous sex
- Compulsive masturbation
- Dangerous sex practices
“Experiencing severe consequences due to sexual behavior, and an inability to stop despite these adverse consequences, is one of the main clues as to addiction, according to P. Carnes. In his book, Don’t Call It Love, 1991, some of those consequences are:
- Loss of partner or spouse (40%)
- Severe marital or relationship problems (70%)
- Loss of career opportunities (27%)
- Unwanted pregnancies (40%)
- Abortions (36%)
- Suicide Obsession (72%)
- Suicide Attempts (17%)
- Exposure to AIDS and venereal disease (68%)
- Legal risks from nuisance offenses to rape (58%)
Persistent pursuit of self-destructive behavior. (They continue despite consequences feeling as though they will deal with them when they become a reality).
- Ongoing effort or desire to limit sexual behavior only to find it makes it worse.
- Getting married.
- Moving to a new neighborhood or town.
- Changing jobs.
- Becoming immersed in religion.
- Periods of sexual anorexia.
Sexual obsession and fantasy as a primary coping strategy.
Regularly increasing the amount of sexual experience because the current level of activity is no longer sufficiently satisfying.
Severe mood changes related to sexual activity.
In ordinate amounts of time spent obtaining sex, being sexual, and recovering from sexual experiences.
Neglect of important social, occupational or recreational activities because of sexual behavior.
There is much more to say, but I think I have supported sex addiction sufficiently to help one form an opinion. Let me also say, if you are concerned about this, the first thing to do is to admit there is a problem and seek help. Find a professional that is qualified to help. CSATs (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist ) are recognized as the experts in this field.
So, back to the original question, aren’t we all addicted to sex? What do you think?