Fast Facts About Sex Addiction

Fact 1: Sex addiction is controversial as a diagnosis.

To the extent that sex addiction exists, it is considered to be a hypersexual disorder. Sex addiction is not recognized as a clinical diagnosis, but generally is considered to be an ongoing compulsive and dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual fantasy that can include compulsive masturbation; compulsive viewing of pornography; voyeurism; exhibitionism; and obsessive pursuit of casual sex. Addictive sexual behaviors may be strong enough to interfere with the daily aspects of a person working, living, and engaging in positive intimate relationships, and to cause anxiety and depression.

Fact 2: Sex addition is not the same thing as sexual abuse.

Sex addiction and sexual abuse are not the same thing. Sex addiction refers to compulsive thoughts and behaviors. Sexual abuse typically involves emotional manipulation, and may or may not include coercion or threats of harm to the victim. Some of the many factors that can lead to sexually abusive behavior include sexual attraction, attitudes and beliefs about gender roles, a sense of entitlement, and antisocial traits.

Fact 3: Treatment must focus on the right issues.

Because sex addiction and sexual abuse have different causes and result in different behaviors, treatment must be customized to the person’s individual risk and needs. Treatment of sex addiction generally will not address the factors that lead people to sexually abuse others, and vice versa. Individual treatment needs must be carefully addressed.


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The following citations reflect research, publications, and presentations by current ATSA members.



2018 ATSA Conference