Talk of sex addiction is everywhere . Celebrities are admitting it. Tiger Woods went to rehab for it. Was that great PR to get public sympathy or can sex really be an addiction?

‘Why care if you’re a sex addict?’ Clients have asked me this question many times. But ask any sex addict, and they’ll tell you that they care. They’re troubled by their behavior and they want to change.

Is sex addiction really an addiction or is it an excuse for having multiple affairs? You decide.

Facts: Sex Addiction has been studied and it’s been estimated that 3-6 % of adults are spending hours preoccupied with sexual gratification. This consumes their thoughts and becomes an obsession, similar to other addictions, like gambling and food. Sex addicts engage in risky sexual behavior, and feel out of control. They feel powerless to stop their behavior no matter how hard they try.

The Brain: Dr Aviel Goodman director of the Minnesota Institute of Psychology concluded that there is a chemical imbalance in the brain, similar to the cycle of alcoholism. The sex addict must increase the intensity and frequency of their behavior to get the same ‘high’.

Stress: Often stress triggers compulsive behavior and physical and psychological arousal releases brain chemicals involving excitement, as well as other stress-related neurotransmitters.

Preoccupation: Sex addicts become preoccupied with their fantasies. These fantasies could be about any sexual act, fueling the addiction.

Rituals: Like all other addictions, rituals are part of the obsessive behavior. These fantasies can be a preferred sexual act with a known partner, a fetish, or stereotypical repetitive fantasy with a stranger.

Compulsion:The obsession becomes a compulsion to act and the addict feels out of control. Regardless of consequences or wanting to stop, the sexual addict is compelled to carry out whatever he or she feels must be done to get relief.

Despair:Once the act is completed, the person feels regret, extreme guilt and shame over what they’ve done. They resolve never to act out again…….until the next time.

So is Tiger Woods a sex addict or is sex addiction an excuse for his affairs? We’ll probably never know. But he and the other celebrities who’ve claimed to be sex addicts have opened up the topic for discussion. Having an awareness of sex addiction is the first step to getting help.

Author's Bio: 

Beverley Glazer MA.,ICCAC, is a psychotherapist specializing in addictive behaviors: drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, computer, compulsive sex, codependency and relationship issues. She has a busy private practice but can also be reached for consultation, coaching and recovery coaching by phone or on the web. For more information on sex addiction see: http://www.untwist-your-thinking.com/sex_addiction.html.

For more on addiction for all impulse control behaviors, check out her website: http://untwist-your-thinking.com/ You can opt-in for a free personal development newsletter and also ask advice for free.