Tiger Woods has greatly increased the focus on sex addiction recently. A few years ago, David Duchovny, of X-Files fame, rehabed to the Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services Treatment for a sex addition. That is the same rehab center that Tiger Woods is rumored to be a patient at now.
Taking sex addiction seriously by Nicole Baute
Statistics claim that from 3 to 10 percent of Americans have a sex addiction, but the condition is not listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and not all experts agree that problematic sexual behaviour should be called an addiction at all.
Vermeire describes sex addicts as people struggling with sexual compulsions they cannot stop, despite negative consequences.
The addiction is not limited to the rich and famous. In Toronto, there are therapists who specialize in sexual addiction and support groups like Sex Addicts Anonymous. Bellwood Health Services has a 12-week, $12,000 residential program and outpatient counselling.
Margaret Hicks, a Toronto psychotherapist and social worker, says the addiction is often about shame and low self-esteem. Sufferers are trying to fill a void in their lives, she says: “You can fill the hole with alcohol, you can fill it with drugs, you can fill it with sex.”
Hicks says Internet porn is increasingly driving the addiction, and exposure to certain types of porn can change a person’s sexual template in destructive ways.
“Treatment for sexual addiction involves abandoning the unhealthy sexual behaviours and, after a period of abstinence, developing healthy sexual functioning with a primary partner – which often requires learning how to function in a healthy emotional way,” says Lawson, manager of family services and special programs at Bellwood.
“With sex addictions we are sort of where the people supporting the idea of alcoholism were 50 years ago,” she says.
“When they started talking about alcohol addiction and being an alcoholic back then, there was the same reaction, ‘No way, there’s no such thing, what are you talking about?’ So, it takes time.”