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What Is Sex Addiction? An Honest Look at a Hidden Epidemic
We all remember the news reports. Tiger Woods flees from his Florida home after his angry wife learns of his infidelities. Days go by before we learn that Tiger may have had as many as 20 different mistresses. After a prolonged media firestorm, Tiger checks into a rehab clinic for sexual addiction. Yes, we all remember the reports, and many of us even found them quite entertaining. The media scoffed at Tiger's “sex addiction” excuse, and many pundits and comedians joked that sex addiction was merely an excuse that men used after getting caught cheating on their spouses. 
But is that actually true? Or is sex addiction as real as any narcotic dependency? 
Defining Sex Addiction
Although some guys may use sex addiction as an excuse for their bad behavior, the phenomenon of sex addiction is very, very real. The American Psychiatric Association refers to sex addiction as hypersexual disorder, and has even laid out a series of guidelines for diagnosing the condition. A high libido does not qualify you as a sex addict. Sex addicts meet a number of important criteria. 
For example, in the past six months, have you spent considerable time planning and engaging in sexual fantasies and urges? Have you indulged these fantasies for the purposes of dealing with conditions like stress, insomnia or even boredom? Have you tried unsuccessfully to get these compulsions under control? Do you engage in these activities while disregarding the physical or emotional well being of yourself or others? If you answered “yes” to the majority of these questions, you might be a sex addict. 
If you simply engage in sex or masturbate frequently a few times a week, there's no need to panic. Everyone has urges, but sexual addiction involves much more than a normal, healthy release. As the APA notes in its literature, the sex addict “experiences clinically significant personal distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning associated with the frequency and intensity of these sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior.” 
Overcoming Sex Addiction
Sex addiction can manifest itself in a number of ways. Perhaps you masturbate compulsively to pornography; cheat uncontrollably on your partner; or spend a significant portion of your income on strip clubs or prostitutes. If you can't get through the day without a sexual release, and if you're willing to make substantial personal sacrifices for chasing the ultimate sexual high, it may be time to speak to a professional. 
The sooner you act, the easier it will be for you to take hold of the compulsion. You have heard of addiction referred to as a downward spiral, and that's quite a fitting metaphor. The longer you allow yourself to remain in denial, the worse the problem will become, and the more the addiction will consume you. Just because you're not pumping drugs into your body doesn't mean that the addiction is harmless. Sexual addiction destroys families, causes diseases, contributes to significant debt, and leaves you feeling like a shell of your former self. 
If you find yourself unable to control your urges, don't hesitate another moment. Get the help you need, and live the life of freedom that you deserve.

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