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Sex as an Addiction

Addictions tend to have similarities, despite the difference in the substance an individual is addicted to. For instance, those with addictions often struggle to maintain healthy relationships, and often deal with chronic financial difficulties. In addition, there is little professional or academic achievement, if the person is able to maintain employment or educational commitments at all.

An article on Basis Online examines the portrayal of another type of addiction receiving a lot of attention in the media. Certain celebrities, including Tiger Woods and Michael Douglas, have used sex addiction to explain unusual behaviors. This type of behavior has not been extensively studied like substance addiction has, and some aspects of it are unclear.

The article discusses the portrayal of sex addiction on a reality television show, Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew and a movie called Shame that was released in 2011.

The author explains that abnormal sexual behavior can fall into one of two categories: sexual addiction and sexual compulsivity. Sexual addiction is an addiction like a substance addiction, in which some people possess risk factors that might make them more vulnerable to developing sexual addiction.

Sexual compulsivity describes a condition in which a person might have a sexual disorder that looks similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder. In sexual compulsivity, a person might compulsively engage in sexual behaviors, such as sex or masturbation.

The article examines the sex addicts appearing on the show Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, in which the participants are treated as patients. They are introduced to the show as having a sexual addiction and their addictions are typically traced back to a childhood trauma. The participants make a “celibacy pact” and begin to work through their addiction with Dr. Drew.

The article explains that the participants on the show describe their addictions in light of other types of addictions, routinely using drug or alcohol metaphors to communicate the behaviors that they struggle to control.

In the movie Shame, a sex addict is shown falling prey to the same types of pitfalls that confront those who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. The character’s life falls apart in the setting of dark alleys and despair, showing the scenes one might expect of a drug addict’s story.

The author of the article maintains that the media’s depiction of sexual addiction may make it more difficult for a sexual addict to recognize that they have a problem. By focusing on the extreme, and consistently casting sexual addiction in the light of a drug or alcohol problem, there may be a pigeon-hole effect of limiting the public perception of what a sexual addiction looks like.

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