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MoneyMakingMommy's avatar

Is there REALLY such a thing as sex addiction??? And how would going to a fancy rehab center help someone?

Asked by MoneyMakingMommy (297points) April 1st, 2010

Seems like every week some celeb is going into rehab for “sex addiction”?? WTH? David Duchovny, Tiger Woods, Jesse James….are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Is there really such a thing as sex addiction or is it just having too much fame, money, good looks, fans? I’ve never heard of anyone having this but a celebrity.

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49 Answers

noyesa's avatar

I think it exists, it just gets blown completely out of proportion in hollywood.

Every 15+ year old boy has “sex addiction”.

jca's avatar

there probably is, and it’s probably very rare. i think attorneys are telling their clients that are facing divorce over adultery issues to attend Sex Addiction clinics in order to plead that the client was sick, and not just a dirty low down cheater.

Sophief's avatar

I don’t think there is such a thing. I think those kind of people use it for an excuse for cheating. I think it is all down to different sex drives. It is their partners that send them to clinics because they don’t have the same sex drive.

marinelife's avatar

I think it exists, but I am not sure any of these people have it. I would say that sex addiction is when you use sex to replace all other feelings. You have sex when you are anxious, when you are happy, when you are depressed. It sublimates other feelings.

In the case of these three, it is simply a matter of being famous and being able to have sex whenever and with whoever they want to.

I think what they have is entitlement addition, self-gratification addiction. Whatever allows them to lie and break their vows with impunity.

Trillian's avatar

I don’t think so, but I suppose that I’m not qualified to say for sure. It seems like a fancy excuse for a man who can’t keep it in his pants. They then can go out and cheat and tell the hapless woman at home; “Sorry honey, you just have to put up with my problem.”
Hell fuckin’ no.
I’m tired of this lame old excuse about people not being responsible for their own actions. I think it’s a complete crock of shit.
But I’m not from here, so…...

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Great Answers.It is used as an excuse for being a self involved dickhead. As I listen to Mistress for Christmas (AC/DC)

HTDC's avatar

Technically you can become addicted to pretty much anything, whether it brings you pleasure or pain, it’s all down to the wiring of our brain, so yes I think it exists.

But, as others have said, there are many cases where people take advantage of the word “addiction” and use it as an excuse for their cheating.

jca's avatar

Chris Rock said “A man is only as faithful as his options.”

janbb's avatar

I’m beginning to think there is. hehe

noyesa's avatar

Lots of good answers, but it isn’t necessarily an imaginary reason for letting it hang out.

I’ve slowed down a lot as I’ve gotten older, but I used to be a sex addict. My sex drive was overtime—I couldn’t help but want to do it pretty much all the time. My girlfriend can’t keep up with that so I just kept it to my sexually frustrated self.

I have never cheated. I’ve never even thought about cheating. Sex addiction exists, it’s just not a justification for adultery. I don’t have gorgeous women throwing themselves at me like the celebrities admitting themselves to sex rehab, but if I wanted to cheat I’ve had plenty of opportunities. A strong head will prevail over any primitive desire.

Sarcasm's avatar

I don’t believe in sex addiction.
I think it’s just a lack of self control, in combination with a large amount of options (in the “who I can sleep with” realm).
If you have no self control and happen to have a lot of birthday cake around, you’ll probably end up eating a lot of birthday cake.

jca's avatar

did somebody say “birthday cake?”

zophu's avatar

Addiction is defined as a bad habit that one is dependent on, right? Sex can be that. But, we’re mammals, so it’s not something we’re going to be “cured” of anytime soon without some kind of fucked up drug. Regardless, this isn’t a new issue . . . it’s just been spun by the massmedia lately because they found a way to talk about sex again. We are sheep.

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poisonedantidote's avatar

bullshit on a stick is what i think of the term. all you need to do is look up the definition of addiction to see how its nonsense. and also, i think its a bit insulting to people dealing with real addictions such as heroin addiction.

find me someone who has put a knife to their own mothers throat in the middle of night to rob her of money for hookers, and maybe ill consider calling it an addiction then.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

This is a difficult concept seeing as sex is widely accepted as a natural part of life whereas taking drugs is not (not as much, anyway). It’s hard to differentiate addiction from simple lack of self-control, and people these days love to slap the label of “medical condition” onto any personal flaw in order to alleviate personal responsibility.

Most of my knowledge of sex addiction comes from watching Law & Order: SVU, so I can’t call it completely reliable. However from what I’ve seen, activities like sex and gambling release certain chemicals in your brain that can become addictive, just as drugs and alcohol do. Therefore it is reasonable to believe sex can become an addiction. We already widely accept drug and alcohol addictions. Sex is different as it is much more private, and was simply not talked about publicly for much of history in many cultures. Similarly, people who may have this addiction are simply labeled as “sluts” or “players” and no more thought is given to it. Perhaps with more time and education about the subject it will be accepted as a true addiction, but it’s still a touchy issue.

@benpoisonedantidoteew find me someone who has put a knife to their own mothers throat in the middle of night to rob her of money for hookers, and maybe ill consider calling it an addiction then.
I wouldn’t be too surprised if that has happened. We just don’t know about it, since you don’t usually stop a mugger in the street and ask, “Hey, what exactly did you want that money for?”

tinyfaery's avatar

Okay, people. I hate April Fools.

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poisonedantidote's avatar

@paraparayukikoew i seriously doubt that has ever happened, but would change my mind if evidence came to light. so doubt some money from muggings has gone on hookers, but i would say that drugs or debt was the initial reason to steal.

an impulse yes, maybe even a strong impulse. but not an addiction.

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filmfann's avatar

There are actually love and sex addiction meetings in many areas. A couple of my friends went (both women).
I figured it might be an easy way to hook up.

EmpressPixie's avatar

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ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@anpoisonedantidoteen You’re welcome to doubt, but accept that the possibility exists. People addicted to gambling (only fairly recently accepted as a true addiction) have destroyed their entire families for their habit, and I’m sure sex addicts have done the same. Instead of an addiction, however, it’s been labeled as cheating because the offender is simply a jerk, nothing more.

My opinion is that anyone who hasn’t gone through an addiction or mental illness can’t accurately judge whether or not it is legitimate. That includes myself as I have never been a sex addict (I have been a computer addict, however) so I try to respect the possibility of its legitimacy and the pain it can cause for the addict.

@benfilmfanndrewim Now that’s just distasteful and disrespectful. Not appreciated.

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Jude's avatar

wee faery you’re looking smashing today – facial hair and all. ;-)

I don’t believe in a sex addiction either…

tinyfaery's avatar

Someone needs to open a rehab that caters to those with addictions to being assholes.

@jjmah I’m scared.

Jude's avatar

@tinyfaery/timbendrew C’mere. It’ll be okay. I’ll hold onto ya. Snuggle in under my facial. ;-)

sleepdoc's avatar

Sex addiction is not just having lots of sex or having sex with lots of partners. It is when an individual knows that the consequences of engaging with a new sexual partner or engaging in a sexual activity are so significant they may have legal or criminal ramifications and can’t stop themselves from doing it. Although it is not exactly the same as a chemical addiction the biology of the brain doesn’t know the difference. For those who don’t get the high off of a drug or an action like addicts do, they can’t understand. Addicts have compulsions to do things. Choosing whether or not they have the compulsion is beyond their control. Learning not to act on those compulsions is what is called recovery.

janbb's avatar

@timtinyfaerydrewen That rehab center would have to be SO big!

Coloma's avatar

Yes, sex addiction is real.

The chemical reactions of arousal ( dopamine flooding ) is just as real as the arousal from drugs or alcohol.

The sex addict is addicted to the high of arousal, the obsession of finding ‘supply’ and the compulsion to act on such.

Engaging in high risk behaviors and a progressive risk taking that leads to severe consequences, such as broken relationships, stds, etc.

Like all addicts, those with any addiction go to great lengths to hide and conceal, and care not who they harm as long as they are secureing their highs.

It is just one of many potential addictions and also is co-morbid with drugs and alcohol.

Sexual preoccupation and arousal is ‘used’ to cope with self loathing, unhappiness, stress, anger…the same emotional issues that lend themselves to all addiction.

I have firsthand experience with this subject because I divorced a sex addict/alcoholic some years ago.

You’d be suprised how many lead double lives and lengths they go to, to protect their ‘supply.’

When I found porn tapes hidden in my 5 year olds video jackets…that was the end of that!

CMaz's avatar

Anything can be used to excess. Addiction.

Sex being such a “common hobby” I can understand it getting out of control.
We push it on our children, and “if it feels good then do it,” has become our war cry.

I see it more of an individual not having their priorities right. Or is it?

A drunk always has a bottle close.
A junkie can always find a fix.

A sex addict always puts themselves in a situation to have more sex.
Funny, it is only an addiction when that person is in a relationship.

Otherwise you are just a slut or a whore.

The Tiger Woods and the Sandra Bullock thing.

I saw it coming right from the start. Jessie almost had me convinced. Sandra married a Dog. And Tiger is a Child with a shit load of cash.

What did you expect?

Coloma's avatar, it is not only an addiction when a person is in relationship.

My ex had frequented prostitutes, was into porn, strip clubs waaay before I met him.

I made excuses that it was about his immaturity and he’d ‘outgrow’ his obsessions.

What did I know as a young woman?

Not what I know now after dealing with that issue for years.

It is a warped reaction to a natural behavior and hiding porn in ones little childs Alice in Wonderland video jacket is NOT the behavior of a healthy man/father!

Yep…it would have been an Alice in Wonderland that a 5 yr. old and her little friends did not need to know about!

It was an act of gross selfishness, part of any addicts one track mind.

CMaz's avatar

“It was an act of gross selfishness, part of any addicts one track mind.”

And, addicts are never cured. They (hopefully) learn how to control it and what to avoid.

Sex is a tough one in today’s society.

Coloma's avatar


I is a sad situation and as a woman that lived the experience ( a looong time ago )

It is particularily painful to women who are clueless about the dark side of things with such a person.

A lot of beautiful women feel it is somehow about them and their ‘lack’ of being able to keep their mans attraction. Not so.

I and many female freinds who were/are quite attractive were really f——ked up by our mens behaviors until we woke up to the reality of what we were dealing with.

Thank’s a thing of the past..and boy am I a lot wiser these days.

CMaz's avatar

I had to oppisite situation happen to me.

Had a girlfriend that was sweet as pie and cute as hell. You ladies can have a powerful too.

Being blinded by that, and not seeing she was/is a whore.

But I learned from it. Without too much damage.

Side note, my “input” even when I read it has a different “feel” to it when I see a Pic of the founding fathers.

Just_Justine's avatar

I am sure there is such a thing. I met someone once who said they rarely even had orgasm it was more about other things. Not sure what other things, but a “fancy” rehab or any old rehab would help, if it includes therapy etc,
@benchazmazdrew I think whore is a bit harsh, particularly for a “sick” person.

davidbetterman's avatar

I think it exists, it just gets blown completely out of proportion.
Every 15+ year old girl has “sex addiction”.

CMaz's avatar

Whore – a venal or unscrupulous person.

Calling a spade a spade. I would have said “sick” if she saw here problem, but could not control it.

You get a sick person help. You give a whore a kick in the ass.

escapedone7's avatar

I think it is real but more similar to an eating disorder than a drug addiction.

Girls with eating disorders obsess about their weight, and food,. They compulsively binge and sometimes beat themselves up afterwords and even some try to vomit it back out. They truly cannot have a normal attitude toward food, even though most people deal with food every day and don’t develop a problem with it. The person may be truly trying to stop, truly suffering, but unable to stop the cycle of obsession and self-harm. Yes, eating disorders are now recognized as a form of self-harm.

I can see guys using this as a cop-out every time they cheat just because they want to. However I can also imagine being caught up in an obsessive cycle of self-harm can be real. The person might be trying to meet some insatiable need to feel desired, accepted or wanted perhaps. Perhaps it is some other need they are substituting the sex for instead of finding better ways to feel those things. I think it has more to do with psychological needs and not just needing to scratch a horny itch, just like an eating disorder has a whole lot more to do with psychological needs than hunger.

Storms's avatar

Yes, of course. You stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain often enough and anything will become an addiction—eating, sex, video games; anything pleasurable.

However, the average man has a voracious sexual appetite to begin with and has to exercise a notable amount of discipline to keep it under control. It’s a new trend that those who choose not to utilise self-restraint blame it on a non-existent addiction.

CMaz's avatar

“I can see guys using this as a cop-out every time”

Especially when wealth and celebrity status is at stake. Tiger Woods, Jesse James.

sleepdoc's avatar

@anstormsimen While I am not saying that all those who have gone into rehab have a sexual addiction, it does exist.

Trillian's avatar

@timchazmazewen You forgot David Duchovny. Total nipple head.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I believe in it. I believe there are people who haven’t learned how to recognize, accept, give or believe in love with intimacy and so sex is the next best thing. I believe others are in a constant state of higher sex drive in order to feel valued, desireable and loved. If they don’t trust or believe in their partner then the drive for sex goes higher as they struggle to get an affirmation of “bonding”.

The people who are out having sex with a multitude of people? Those ones probably want the feelings of connectivity that come with sex but they are skitchy about becoming emotionally vulnerable, getting sidetracked with wanting to believe in “more” when deep down they don’t believe it exists (or can exist for them).

wundayatta's avatar

I’m a little confused as to how the idea or diagnosis of sex addiction is a copout? Do alcoholics get a free pass to drink? Do drug addicts get a free pass to nod out? Do food addicts get a free pass to eat all they want for whatever reason they want?

No, sex addiction doesn’t let anyone off the hook. They are still responsible for what they have done and for the pain they have caused. What they have now, however, is a diagnosis and a treatment plan that can help them learn to control themselves.

We’ve been talking about sex addiction, but the 12-step group is called Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. So think about that one for a while. Can you be addicted to love? Are we all addicted to love? What’s the difference between truly intimate love and unhealthy love?

Frankly, I don’t think anyone knows. A lot of times it seems to come down to how sex is related to love. Do you equate sex with love? I suppose you could say that when you are in love with a fantasy, it isn’t real love, but how do you know the difference between your fantasy of your love and the reality of your love?

Sex addicts do a number of things, and I can’t remember them all, but SLAA reads the list of behaviors of sex and love addicts at every meeting. Sex addicts use sex in the place of love. They find themselves having sex with strangers. They are obsessive about porn or masturbation or picking up people. They use love or sex to get a high, one after another. They like intrigue. The art of getting away with it.

For a while there, I fit the behavior of a love addict. I fell in love with six women in six months. It was the same emotional arc over and over again—feeling on top of the world when she loved me, and then getting so needy I pushed her away, and crashing to the depths where I could only be resurrected by by another love.

I don’t even know how it happened, because I had never seen myself as any kind of Lothario. I guess the internet makes it easier. What was also amazing was the women who were interested in me. Women no one would ever suspect of having such interests. But I guess there’s more that goes on out there than meets the eye. It’s also someone amazing as to what some of these women say in public compared to their private actions. But that was all on another site, a long time ago.

It ended when I told my wife what I had been doing out of some notion that I was doing the right thing. My wife realized this was not normal, and got me seen by a shrink, and it turned out I was bipolar. In my SLAA group, a lot of participants are bipolar. A lot of high performing artists are also bipolar. It’s part of what gives them the creative energy.

My couples therapist is also in SLAA. He’s really into having me go, as are my therapist and my wife. I’m not convinced. I’m not convinced that my behavior fits the pattern, especially since my medications have dampened that impulse down quite a bit. I’m also not convinced it is an addiction—as in the sense that one is powerless over it. Of course, one of the 12 steps is realizing that you are powerless over your addiction. I don’t get that one. It seems like it is a free pass.

Well, I do have an idea about it. I think that this behavior is so shameful, that we can only be in denial and refuse to talk about it or admit it. By saying we have no power, we can admit that something is going on without feeling shame about it. This is crucial, because we need to feel ok about ourselves in order to work on it. If we are only shamed, we hide and deny and nothing is ever fixed.

Love addiction, I think, is driven by a bottomless pit inside a person. I experience it as a pit that can only be fixed by love, except there is not enough love in the universe to make me feel ok about myself. Love and sex addiction tends to be a sign of low self-esteem. Often times, people with low self-esteem are driven, driven, driven to perform well, in order to try to get some sense of value of self.

In the end, they say, only your higher power can fill that pit inside you. It’s not something you can have filled from the outside. It’s a sort of magical thing, and you have to use magic in order to be able to cope with it and stop acting out, sexually.

It’s very complicated. I feel like I do get support from outside and it does make me feel better about myself. Love is very important, because it’s the only time I believe I am worth anything. It is tied up with sex and status and probably a lot more, and I’m sure I’m a pathetic example of humanity for having such problems.

But there are a lot of us. A lot of people with low self-esteem; a lot of people with bipolar disorder; a lot of people with sex and love addictions. There are more than I ever could have imagined. Almost a secret underground culture. It helps knowing that others struggle with the same issues. It helps to have people who won’t judge us to talk to.

As you can see by this thread, most people are very judgmental. It’s not really helpful to anyone. It is completely counterproductive at getting people to stop these behaviors. Shame just doesn’t work very well in this day and age. Unfortunately, and this goes against the grain for everyone, I think, what addicts need, and what miscreants of all sorts need is safety to admit to and try to work on their problems without getting clobbered before they even start.

phillis's avatar

From what I’m reading here, the problem hasn’t been with addiction, itself. It’s the denial and sneakiness that comes with addiction. People don’t seem to believe this exists because their cheating partner won’t give them the validation they need/deserve/want, which adds insult to injury. It becomes more about ‘how could you do this when you said you loved me’ along with the ego being severely bruised and bashed.

You feel so special when your partner desires only you, and feel devalued when they “desire” someone else. This comes from ego inherent in us all. But it also prevents us from separating a cheating spouses behavior from our own self worth, which compounds the problems a couple already has as a result of the cheating.

If I can view the issue without my ego and emotions (no small task!), I can indeed see whether it is an addiction or an excuse. Though the above statements may seem to support a cheating partner, nothing could be further from the truth. The pain and damage that comes from these hidden affairs is unimaginable in scope. There is no excuse.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Sex compulsion/addiction
1. Are you mad at me for something, you seem annoyed.
2. I wanted to play around this morning and you shrugged me off.

1. Oh, I was tired and sometimes I’m just not in the mood.
2. Yeah right, not in the mood but you’re in the mood to watch porn and make sexual innuendo so what gives when it comes to you and me?

1. Do you think it’s about you? You think I’m not into you because I didn’t want to have sex this morning?
2. Yes, I think you need other things in order to get turned on to have sex with me.

1. I love you, I love having sex with you but I don’t feel the need to do it all the time and feeling pressured doesn’t help me get in the mood. In fact sometimes I avoid you all together because it’s too much drama.
2. I wouldn’t pressure you and annoy you if I thought you wanted it as much as I do.
Having sex with you all the time lets me know we’re “okay” as a couple together.

1. Believing in us as a couple in love makes me feel we’re “okay. The sex is just the cherry on top.
2. The sex is the thing I look forward to the most.

1. So if we don’t have sex for a day then you wonder what’s wrong and we start from scratch with all the paranoid bullshit?
2. That’s what it feels like. When we have sex then everything feels right.

1. If we don’t have sex everyday does that mean you’re going to cheat or leave me for someone else?
2. No, I only want you but I want to feel like you only want me but when you turn me down then it seems like you’re getting sex somewhere else and don’t have attention for me.

1. This is insane, it can’t lead to anything solid and day by day I see you are more volatile while I’ve been feeling closer to you and that everything should be fine.
2. I don’t know why I can’t see how you see or feel secure like you do. I’d like to calm down, not be bossed by my libido… etc.

mattbrowne's avatar

No. But there is obsession.

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