Is Sex Addiction A Real Condition?
The American author Mark Twain is often, possibly apocryphally, quoted as saying that quitting smoking was easy – he’d done it 100 times. The writer later died of lung cancer.
As a society we accept the existence of addictions to substances, such as nicotine, alcohol and other drugs – and the harm they can cause. But when it comes to sex, some experts still disagree over whether addiction is real or a myth.
Sex addiction is currently not a clinical diagnosis, which means we don’t have official figures on how many people have sought help for related concerns through the NHS.
A self-help website for people who feel they are struggling with sex or porn addiction surveyed 21,000 people in the UK who have visited the site for help since 2013.
Of these, 91% were male and only 10% had sought help from a GP.
- ‘Having sex five times a day wasn’t enough’
- Scientists probe ‘sex addict’ brains
Sex addiction was considered for inclusion in the latest 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a key diagnostic tool in both the US and the UK, but was rejected because of lack of evidence.
But “compulsive sexual behaviour” is now being proposed as an entry in the International Classification of Disease (ICD) manual produced by the World Health Organization.
Gambling was previously considered in the category of compulsive behaviours, but was given formal diagnostic status as an addiction in 2013, along with binge-eating disorder, after new evidence emerged.
Therapists believe sex addiction could follow a similar route.