In today’s digital age, hookup apps like Grindr make it easy to argue that sex addiction is real. A gay man can spend hours cruising for sex online, on his phone, at the bar, or at the gym. But does that mean he’s a sex addict, or a creature of habit?
According to a statement by American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, scientific studies do not support the theory that sex can be classified as an addiction the way cocaine, heroin, alcohol, or nicotine can be. Therefore, sex addiction doesn't exist.
But problematic sexual behaviors are very real, according to AASECT. This is why consumers ought to be careful when seeking advice from “sex addiction” therapists who aren’t properly trained in human sexuality. Thinking you have an addiction could lead you to feed your need or to make excuses for your decisions.
The truth is we all have sexual urges, and for some people, feeding those urges can interfere in their daily lives, disrupting families, jobs, friendships, and even physical and mental health. So isn't that addiction? Not according to Douglas Braun-Harvey, author of 2015's Treating Out of Control Sexual Behavior: Rethinking Sex Addiction. An overabundance of sex can impact our health greatly, either physically, psychologically, or spiritually. But, he told USA Today in a statement, the problems we ought to focus on — not the concept of sex addiction.
“Sex therapy counseling and education requires a higher standard of sexual science to ensure sexual rights and sexual health,” he said. “The sex addiction concept is an oversimplification of a complex area of human sexual behavior and is not substantiated by sexual science and sex therapy. I think the most important thing to remember is that there are people who are suffering from their sexual behavior being out of control, but what ends up happening is that the suffering, the fear and the consequences it brings to their careers and families get prematurely and very quickly labeled sex addiction.”
While a 2010 Nielsen poll shows that over 25 percent of people with Internet access at work viewed pornography during working hours, and over 25 million Americans visited porn sites between one to 10 hours/week (5 million viewed over 11 hours), sex addiction has become a safe term to facilitate the spike in hookup culture.
“The topic of sex addiction has been contentious for many years, with a large body of scientific research indicating that sex addiction has not been well defined or operationalized,” says AASECT President Debby Herbenick. “Contemporary research indicates that individuals’ problematic sexual behavior may often be better explained by other factors, including a high sex drive, mental health issues (e.g., depression, anxiety) or culturally influenced guilt or shame.”