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"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."I ask, 'What's going to happen if you don't satisfy that craving? No.' I try to get the patient to see things more realistically." One-on-one counseling, support groups, and having a plan are key."You want to make connections with other people who are also struggling, and you have to know who you are going to call, what you are going to do, and how you are going to attend to your feelings," O'Neill says.Reid encourages his patients to challenge the thoughts that lead to their risky behavior.
Addiction takes priority over everything – you, children, career, financial security, even one’s own freedom."If they are suffering, we want to help them." Reid and many other experts prefer the term "hypersexual disorder," rather than "sex addiction." By either name, it's about people who keep engaging in sexual behaviors that are damaging them and/or their families. That problem puts so much at risk: their personal lives, their social lives, their jobs, and, with the threat of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, their health.As examples, Reid cites men who spend half their income on prostitutes, and office workers who surf the web for porn despite warnings that they'll lose their job if they keep it up. Despite the danger, they return to the same behaviors over and over, whether it's Internet porn, soliciting sex workers, ceaselessly seeking affairs, masturbating or exposing themselves in public, or any number of other acts."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.
That doesn't mean that it's not a very real problem.