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Sex is a natural and, to most people, enjoyable activity. Usually it is an expression of our intimate feelings for another person. But what if our desire to have more and more sex takes over our lives? Is this just having a high sex drive? Is it because someone can’t control themselves?

Some therapists question as to whether sex addictions actually exists. Some believe that it doesn’t. But for those of us who work with people whose lives and relationships have been destroyed we know it does. And sex addiction can be as bad as alcohol or drug addiction.

So what is it? Sex addiction is an overwhelming, uncontrollable need to perform a sexual activity regardless of the consequences. This can be dogging, having affairs, masturbating to porn, exposing yourself – the list goes on and on. And the key is that this behaviour is consciously or subconsciously helping us reduce sadness, disappointments or boredom in our lives.

This addiction has always been with us. However, until recently, it has been difficult to act out. There were only so many pornographic magazines one could buy, or prostitutes to visit or DVDs to watch. Because of the time constraints the numbers of those whose lives were affected was limited.

But the introduction of freely available internet porn has meant that therapists are seeing more and more people addicted to, or compulsive about, sex. It is estimated that some 3 to 5 per cent of the population may now be affected.

Sex addiction should not be confused with a high sex drive nor thought to only affect men. Women can become addicted but it seems that although some women desire the physical side others become addicted to having relationships.

People too have varying sex drives. Some want what others might feel is a lot. Others are happy with few sexual encounters. But sex addiction is not about sex drive.

The problem arises when thoughts and desires around sex take over one’s life. But you can take back control. Firstly the therapist will explore your ‘triggers’ and then how you act out. By working with you they will help you take over better control and get to know what drives you. You will also need to explore your underlying feelings to see if you can figure out if there were problems or issues in your life that set you down this road.

But with hard work you can get back to a satisfying sex life. Unlike alcoholism or drug addiction where there has to be a no-use policy you don’t have to completely give up sex. But how you have it may be something you need to work out. Search out members of ATSAC (the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity). These therapists are trained to work with clients who are sexually addicted to help them take back control.

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