Is Sex Addiction Real?

Every week in my sex counselling practice I’m asked the question “Sue am I a sex addict?” Or “my wife thinks I’m a sex addict”. While anything that affects the pleasure centres of the brain can become addictive (think of the amount of time you spend on the phone, eating chocolate, playing the lottery etc) but only if what is giving you a high has a real, lasting and negative impact on your life, can you call it an addiction.

I see many clients who spend their mad money on erotic massages, or play “Pretty Woman” to local dancers who need financial help in exchange for sexual services. I don’t think they are addicted. I think they are men who find attractive young women attending to them very enticing. According to a study in the early 2000’s in Boston, men would have an inconsequential dalliance if they thought they could get away with it. And if you could help a student through school with a few bucks while you were at it then it hits many of the buttons men have to feel needed and protective.

But does it make them an addict? I say no. The clients compulsively spending their rent money, or money needed to feed their kids, on sex workers – those I would consider to have slid into the area of addiction.

I know that most men use porn – often daily as part of their masturbation – and most therapists would consider it a tool. If someone spends hours in front of the computer, needs to masturbate at work in the bathroom, or won’t go out with friends because they are too busy looking at porn – that would qualify as interfering with real life.

Many women assume men give up porn when they get married or involved in a serious relationship. They are often very surprised when they don’t. Porn use causes a problem if they are too tired for sex with their partners, or they are downloading GB of porn in order to hoard it. Men are visual and find porn an easy tool to enhance regular masturbation. It doesn’t make them a sex addict.

But if you think you may have a problem and want to talk about it, I can help. I can do three 45 minute sessions of therapy with reading, homework & support for $300 (CAD). Usually less than what you spend on 90 minutes with a sex worker and therapy comes with benefits that last longer than a happy ending. Let’s get this done and give you the specific tools to manage your sexuality rather than have it manage you.


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