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That doesn't mean that it's not a very real problem.
"People are going to seek help, and there doesn't need to be diagnosable condition for them to get help," Reid says.
"The world comes crashing down," says Reid, "and some say, 'I'm glad that I got caught.'" There are no reliable estimates of how many people have the disorder.
Some studies suggest that it's more common in men, and gay men in particular, than women.
In working with the spouses and significant others of addicts, I’ve often heard it said, “I’d rather be an addict than love one.” While few people would ever walk eyes-wide-open into a chronic disease like addiction, the statement speaks to the confusion, loneliness and despair common not only among addicts but also the men and women who love them. In fact, addicts who are solid in their recovery can make excellent partners.
A history of addiction doesn’t necessarily turn Mr./Mrs. They’ve waged a courageous battle, spending a great deal of time working to take care of and improve themselves.
"Those are some of the core issues that you start to see when you treat someone with sex addiction," says John O'Neill, LCSW, LCDC, CAS, CART, a certified addiction counselor at the Menninger Clinic in Houston.
"You can't miss those pieces." Sex addiction won't be in the upcoming edition of the DSM-5, which is used to diagnose mental disorders.
"An addiction model is just one of them." There isn't much research on what treatments work best.The causes are also unknown, or how similar it is to other addictions.That's one reason that Reid prefers the term hypersexual disorder (HD)."I see in them an inability to stop what they're doing," O'Neill says.
"They're preoccupied; their brain just keeps going back to it. There's such intense shame and pain." Frequently, a crisis convinces them to seek treatment, Reid says.Reid encourages his patients to challenge the thoughts that lead to their risky behavior."If a patient says he has a craving and he can't control it, I confront the 'can't,'" Reid says."If they're willing to really follow through, work with their families and their support networks, in my experience, people can get significantly better and stay in recovery." In some cases, medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder or impulse control disorders may be used to curb the compulsive nature of the sex addiction.