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Sex as an Addiction Officially Recognized by American Society of Addiction Medicine

Uncategorized Jul 22, 2019

August 17, 2011

For years, the idea that sex could be addictive was scoffed at by medical professionals, therapists, and others. Many believed that it was simply an excuse for bad behavior and weak morals. However, anyone who has ever worked with individuals who struggle with sexually compulsive behaviors can testify that the pull and power of these behaviors over individuals who struggle looks a lot like addiction.

Now, we are one step closer to officially calling it an addiction.

The American Society for Addiction Medicine recently released an updated definition of addiction, which now includes sex and other process addictions (like gambling, shopping, etc). They recognize that people can get a “high” from these activities that impacts their brains, emotions, relationships, and lives in the same way drugs and alcohol do.

I especially like their “ABCs” of addiction that help clarify whether someone really has an addiction:

Addiction is characterized by:

  1. Inability to consistently Abstain;
  2. Impairment in Behavioral control;
  3. Craving; or increased “hunger” for drugs or rewarding experiences;
  4. Diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships; and
  5. A dysfunctional Emotional response.
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