The Truth About Sexual Addiction

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By Blake Dillon

From free porn sites on our computers to explicit nudie scenes in our favourite television shows to an array of dating apps on our smartphones, we live in a day and age where access to sex is literally at our fingertips. Hell, we routinely write about it in this magazine! In every sense of the word, sex surrounds us. For some, that’s a bonus. For others, it’s torture.

If you’re a part of that latter group, then you probably think you’re addicted to sex. Good news, though! You’re not. Well, science would have you believe you’re not, anyway.

See, as Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, a sexologist and author of The New Sex Bible, points out, though some people are tormented by sexual overdrive, sex addiction is not recognized as a formal diagnosis due to a lack of scientific evidence that it actually exists.

The reason for this, she says, is because she believes — as do many other experts — that an apparent addiction to sex is actually an iatrogenic disorder.

“This means that the ‘illness’ itself and its associated damages are acquired through treatment,” she explains. “Using porn addiction as a specific example, the belief in your addiction is the source of your distress — not the porn itself. The same could be said of a so-called sex addiction.”

This essentially means your chronic sexual behaviour is the symptom of another overarching problem — a coping mechanism or side effect of believing you’re addicted. In a sense, you’ve been brainwashed into believing you have a dependency, either by yourself, by a loved one, or by reading too much into it.

It’s not as simple as mind over matter, though. You can’t just close this magazine and say, “Welp, not addicted.” Although that may technically be true, O’Reilly believes that even though there isn’t an official diagnosis, there are problematic sexual behaviours that can still be of concern — and if you’ve made it this far in this article, you likely experience those behaviours.

“Signs that your desire for sex is problematic might include regularly leaving or missing work to engage in sex — be it alone or partnered — and having your desires interfere with your ability to work,” she says. “In fact, if you have difficulty performing day-today activities because of your desire for or engagement in sex, then it’s problematic.”

If that sounds like you, O’Reilly suggests looking at your attitudes and behaviours to determine if they’re serious enough to consider entering a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program to address them.

These CBT programs are psychotherapeutic sessions that help people improve their mood, reduce their anxiety, change their eating habits, and work on their dependencies, among other things. They do this by identifying critical behaviours, evaluating these behaviours for frequency, duration and/or intensity, and attempting to normalize them if they are, indeed, out of whack.

While you might discover that you do have problematic sexual tendencies, O’Reilly insists that you understand the difference between desire and addiction.

“When we frame ‘sex addiction’ as a legitimate diagnosis without the proper evidence, we detract from the gravity of other more common addictions,” she says. “This is not a diagnosis — it’s simply problematic behaviour.”

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