Inside the Sex Addiction Crisis

The epidemic afflicts millions of Americans

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 26, 2011 5:37 PM CST

(Newser) – With the Tiger Woods scandal officially behind us, the Daily Beast looks into our nation's sex addiction epidemic—which now afflicts more than 9 million people and employs some 1,500 sex therapists. “Where it used to be 40- to 50-year-old men seeking treatment, now there are more females, adolescents, and senior citizens,” says one expert. Whether it's online porn or a wild merry-go-round of sexual partners, millions of Americans are pursuing sex to sugar-coat long-suppressed emotional needs. Aided by the Internet and high-tech GPS gadgets, they can satisfy their needs faster than ever before.

Those addicts who enter treatment programs are encouraged to pursue "sexual sobriety"—which isn't cold turkey, but is less sex than before. Those who face their condition may plunge into depression or turn to drugs or alcohol to medicate their shame. But addicts who keep "chasing that emotional high" of sex "end up losing relationships, getting diseases, and losing jobs," says the founder of an LA sex addiction institute. Note that Tiger Woods and other marital cheaters aren't necessarily sex addicts—and may just use it as an excuse, one expert says: "'Because I get in trouble, because I cheat, I’ll just blame it on sex addiction. That’s my get-out-of-jail-free card.'" (Read the opinion of one doctor who says all men experience sex addiction.)

Many sex addicts find that they don't pursue sex for physical pleasure. “Sex addiction isn’t really about sex,” one expert says; it’s about “being wanted.”
Many sex addicts find that they don't pursue sex for physical pleasure. “Sex addiction isn’t really about sex,” one expert says; it’s about “being wanted.”   (Shutterstock)
Most confirmed sex addicts are men, while women are considered love addicts—possibly because women are more often stigmatized by sex addiction, the Daily Beast reports.
Most confirmed sex addicts are men, while women are considered "love addicts"—possibly because women are more often stigmatized by sex addiction, the Daily Beast reports.   (Shutterstock)
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