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There is some debate in the medical community as to whether sex addiction exists as a medical disorder. According to recent studies, millions of Americans - between 3 and 8 percent - deal with sex addiction. Still, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) does not have a diagnosis for sex addiction, although it does have diagnoses for other addictions such as alcohol dependence, drug dependence, and eating disorders.
Sex addiction, or sex compulsion, can begin in a number of different ways and lead to a myriad of practices. Some sex addicts have one specific unwanted behavior. Others have dozens. What separates sex addicts from healthy sexual adults is the presence of a compulsive behavior. People who deal with sex addiction often feel out of control and unable to manage their sexual impulses. Frequently, once an impulse has been satisfied, a person with sex addiction will experience a great wave of shame, pain, and self-loathing.
Sex addiction is dangerous because it can lead individuals to put themselves or others in potentially harmful circumstances in order to satisfy a sexual impulse. Many people with this affliction feel that their sex addiction began with an affinity for one act or experience. That affinity can grow stronger and lead to sex addiction. Others feel that sex addition can form as a result of traumatizing childhood experiences.
Some professionals have created lists of sex addiction indicators. Some of these indicators are based on where, when, and with whom the sexual activity takes place, whether the impulses disrupt routine aspects of life, and whether shame, guilt, remorse, or secrecy is felt in relation to the impulses and activity.
As with any addiction, it is often helpful if not critical to obtain some kind of support and professional advice. Help groups can offer a great deal of free information and support through regular group meetings for addicted individuals. Those dealing with sex addiction may also find it helpful to contact a physician, counselor, or therapist.