It is the sort of disorder one imagines many men would like to suffer from; addiction to sex. However, as powerful public figures deal with the fallout of their sexual exploits, the question begs is it just bad behaviour or a genuine disorder that drives their sexual pursuits.
Historically addiction as an umbrella term has undergone a similar process as the one facing sex addiction. Up until the middle of the previous century addiction was not recognized as an illness. Addictive behaviours in those days were considered moral failings displayed by bad people. Society at that time predominantly viewed addiction as an act of volition. However, development in technology has allowed the medical industry to explore the brain processes involved in addiction in greater detail paving the way for the understanding we have today, that addiction is an illness and that physical evidence in the brain exist to confirm that. Viewing addiction in this way has allowed for addiction treatment to not merely treat the symptoms, which often manifests as immoral behaviour but to treat the underlying issues.
Although sex addiction is yet to be formally recognized as a mental disorder, sex and love addicts anonymous (SLA) exist globally as a recovery fellowship for sufferers in much the same way that AA (alcoholics anonymous) caters to alcoholics. Contrary to what one might think, for the 3-8% of the population that suffer with sex addiction, life is far from fun. For those people sexually acting out is not down to bad behaviour but a sign that this aspect of their lives is unwieldy. Sex addiction is, however, not a disorder exclusive to males, and male and female sufferers will experience similar struggles with intimacy and the compulsion to sexually act out.
The internet and social networking provides an easy way for sex addicts to act on their temptation, and many that seek sex addiction treatment will have to address the way in which social media is used in the future to sustain sobriety. While sex addiction treatment has positive outcomes, recovery is complicated by the fact that sex, like food is essential to our survival, and a vital part of being human. Therefore, where most other addictions are overcome through abstinence and exploration of underlying issues, sex addiction treatment is contingent on the person’s ability to strike a balance, - the crux of the problem in all addictions.