Before Tiger Woods gave his celebrity endorsement to sex addiction, we debated whether it's an easy excuse or a mental health issue. But now it seems more people are treating it as a serious condition. Sex addiction has gone mainstream in movies like Shame and now Thanks For Sharing, out today.
We already took a look inside sex rehab clinics to find out what to expect when you're reforming, but here are seven facts about sex addiction you might not have been aware of already.
- Sex addiction is relatively new: According to a Time piece, "Only in the past 25 years have we come to regard excesses in necessary cravings — hunger for food, lust for sex — as possible disease states." The term "sexual addiction" was first used in the DSM-III in 1980, but it was removed in 1994.
- It's not official: In the recently released DSM-V, sex addiction is a gray area. There isn't a full entry on hypersexuality — the clinical term for sex addiction — but it is filed under conditions that require more research.
- An orgasm a day is considered troublesome: The Time article explains, "Seven orgasms a week (either alone or with someone) is still considered by many experts to be a threshold for possible disorder."
- Recovering addicts go to extreme measures: Sex addiction specialist Tim Lee gives some examples that include not riding the subway and not using dollar bills, because they're associated with strip clubs.
- It's lucrative: If the APA decides to recognize sex addiction, it would mean a huge windfall for the mental health industry. Time explains: "Some wives who know their husbands are porn enthusiasts would force them into treatment. This is already happening. In the year since Woods made sex addiction famous, rehab facilities accustomed to dealing with alcoholics and drug addicts have found themselves swamped with requests for sex-addiction treatment."
- Women struggle, too, but differently: According to Lee, he currently counsels two women compared to 90 men. He adds that women are more likely to be addicted to love. And, yes, love and sex addiction rehab is a real thing.
- Some treatment resembles religion: The Time author recounts a session he attended: "People read aloud from manuals-cum-bibles — like AA's Big Book, Sexaholics Anonymous has its White Book — that are filled with harrowing personal stories and vague generalities. (From the White Book: 'sexual sobriety includes progressive victory over lust.') About halfway through each meeting, a donation-collection plate is passed around, just like in church."
Anything surprise you?
— Additional reporting by Tara Block