Even in medical circles, sex addiction is a highly charged, controversial subject. With today's celebrities making headlines for alleged sex addictions, many people are wondering if this is a real psychological problem or simply an excuse for bad behavior.
The problem is, it's not always clear if cheating is a sign of a broken moral compass or a bad relationship versus an addiction. Dr. Drew Pinsky, guest of The Dr. Oz Show and an addiction specialist who has been teaching America about addiction and relationships for over 20 years, says, "Some people are narcissists who keep cheating because they feel entitled. Some people shouldn't be in committed relationships. Addicts keep returning to the same behavior even after promising themselves or others they will change, which becomes difficult unless they seek therapy."
Dr. Drew places sex addiction in the category of other addictive behaviors, including alcoholism, drug abuse and gambling. "Addiction is a biological disorder with a genetic basis," says Dr. Drew. "The hallmark is progressive behavior, use and preoccupation in the face of adverse consequences." The addict's risky behavior causes their work or school life, finances, health, relationships or legal status to suffer, followed by some level of denial.
Also called "hypersexual behavior," sex addiction is more common in men than women. People diagnosed may exhibit a range of different behaviors, including compulsive masturbation, excessive use of pornography, anonymous sex and sex with prostitutes.
Today, sex addiction is growing at an alarming rate. According to experts, 1 in 20 Americans are considered sex addicts. Some believe Internet sex addiction is the country's fastest growing mental-health crisis.