Is Sex Addiction Even an Addiction?

Sexual addictions are process addictions, also called behavioral addictions. Despite overwhelming sexual addiction statistics, experts disagree whether sex addiction is a true addiction or an impulse control disorder. It’s current diagnostic status in the US is mixed.

  • Sexual addiction is not included in the DSM-5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition), published in 2013.
  • Diagnostic codes for this disorder were incorporated on October 1, 2015, into the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), the primary diagnostic codes used in the U.S.

What Does a Sexual Addiction Look Like?

You might recognize the signs of a sexual addiction if you meet someone who:

  • is obsessed with pornography or strip clubs
  • sexts constantly
  • compulsively engages in sex acts with multiple partners
  • masturbates excessively
  • engages in exhibitionism/voyeurism

In extreme cases, this problem can progress to rape or pedophilia. The pattern of sexual behavior significantly impacts their life. It may affect their work, educational goals, family or social interactions.1

Sexual Addiction Statistics You Can’t Forget

  1. The prevalence of sex addiction and cardiovascular disease in America are nearly the same.

    Heart

    Conservative sex addiction statistics indicate compulsive sexual behavior affects an estimated 3-6% of U.S. adults. That’s 7.4-14.7 million adults.2 On the low end, that’s the exact same number of Americans working for large employers who leave or lose their jobs every year. On the high end, this nearly rivals the number of adults with cardiovascular disease.3

  2. More people are addicted to sex than those who abuse prescription drugs.

    prescription bottles

    Some sites list higher rates of sexual addiction, with estimates ranging from 6-8%, or 14.7-19.6 million adults. On the high end, more people have sexual addictions in America than the number who abuse prescription drugs (19 million). The prescription drug epidemic is well publicized in America due to it tragic consequences. Sex addiction is typically kept a secret.

  3. A different woman, every day for his entire adult life: that’s sex addiction!

    man talking to woman

    Celebrity sex addiction has been widely publicized on social media. Yet there’s probably no case more infamous than the 20,000 women the late basketball star Wilt Chamberlain purportedly bedded. This equates to slightly more than a different women, every single day, for his entire adult life.5

  4. The time spent on PornHub in 2016 equaled 5,245 centuries!

    man looking at computer

    Every year, PornHub (the largest porn website in the world) publishes insightful statistics. In 2016, they racked up 23 billion visits to their site and collectively 4.6 billion hours. The bandwidth used was an astounding 3,110 petabytes, which is enough data to fill 194 million USB sticks. End to end, this would cover 11,000 kilometers or stretch all the way around the moon.6

  5. Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection rivaled Gene Simmons’ sex addiction.

    white heels

    Rocker Gene Simmons, the most famous member of Kiss, reportedly had sex with 5,000 women.7 This is approximately twice the number of shoes discovered when protestors stormed Malacanang Palace, forcing former First Lady Imelda Marcos to flee the Philippines.8 The latter is classified as compulsive buying disorder and treated in a similar manner as sex addiction.

  6. Nearly as many condoms are sold every minute as weekly SAA meetings.

    condom

    In any given week, there are more than 1,000 Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings across the U.S. These meetings help people cope with sexual compulsions.9 An average of more than the 856 condoms are sold every minute in the U.S., based on annual sales of 450,000,000.10

  7. As many as one in five American men have solicited a prostitute.

    man picking up prostitute

    Recent studies 15-20% of American men have sought out a prostitute once in their lives. Compared to their peers, these men thought about sex more often. They were also less likely to be happily married and more likely to have been sexually molested as children or reported forcing women into sexual acts.11

  8. Sex addiction, shame and drug abuse are bedfellows.

    shameful male

    In the acclaimed 2011 film Shame, Michael Fassbender plays Brandon. He is addicted to a sexual function that no longer provides pleasure. Instead it serves as a profound form of self-abuse. “He loves no one, is attracted to no one, is driven to find occasions for orgasm – whether alone or in company hardly seems to matter.”13 The guilt and shame experienced by sex addicts fuels a vicious cycle of out-of-control behavior and co-occurring substance use and behavioral disorders. More than 83% of self-identifying sex addicts are dependent on alcohol or drugs, are workaholics or compulsive gamblers.14

Sources:

  1. Krueger RB. Diagnosis of hypersexual or compulsive sexual behavior can be made using ICD-10 and DSM-5 despite rejection of this diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association. Addiction. 2016 Dec;111(12):2110-2111. doi: 10.1111/add.13366.
  2. Schmidt C, Morris LS, Kvamme TL, Hall P, Birchard T, Voon V. Compulsive sexual behavior: Prefrontal and limbic volume and interactions. Human Brain Mapping. 2017;38(3):1182-1190. doi:10.1002/hbm.23447.
  3. Protect Patients First. AARP website. http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/politics/advocacy/2017/06/patients-first-national-fact-sheet-june-12-2017-aarp.pdf Published June 12, 2017. Accessed August 9, 2017.
  4. Federal Survey Finds 119 Million Americans Use Prescription Drugs. NPR website. http://www.npr.org/2016/09/08/493157917/federal-survey-finds-119-million-americans-use-prescription-drugs Published September 6, 2016. Accessed August 9, 2017.
  5. Sexual claim transformed perception of Wilt. ESPN website. http://static.espn.go.com/nba/news/1999/1012/110836.html Published October 13, 1999. Accessed August 9, 2017.
  6. Pornhub’s 2016 Year in Review. PornHub website. https://www.pornhub.com/insights/2016-year-in-review Published January 4, 2017. Accessed August 9, 2017.
  7. 10 Famous Men Who’ve Had Sex With Over 1,000 Partners. The Richest website. http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/most-shocking/10-famous-men-whove-had-sex-with-over-1000-partners/ Published September 15, 2015. Accessed August 9, 2017.
  8. Imelda Marcos shoe museum: The excess of a regime that still haunts the Philippines. ABC Australia website. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-02/imelda-marcos-shoe-museum:-the-excess-of-a-regime/7877098 Published October 1, 2016. Accessed August 9, 2017.
  9. Is sex addiction real? Depends on whom you ask. CNN website. http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/14/health/sex-addiction-real-or-not-kerner/index.html Published December 14, 2016. Accessed August 9, 2017.
  10. Condom Use Statistics. Statistics Brain website. http://www.statisticbrain.com/condom-use-statistics/ Published May 9, 2017. Accessed August 9, 2017.
  11. Percentage of Men (by Country) Who Paid for Sex at Least Once: The Johns Chart. ProCon website. http://prostitution.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004119 Updated January 6, 2011. Accessed August 9, 2017.
  12. Singles in America: Match Releases Largest Study on U.S. Single Population. Match website. https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8024551-match-7th-annual-singles-in-america-study/ February 6, 2017. Accessed August 9, 2017.
  13. Shame. Roger Ebert website. http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/shame-2011 Published November 30, 2011. Accessed August 9, 2017.
  14. Risky Business: Sex. Mental Health America website. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/risky-business-sex  Accessed June 5, 2017.
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