“It could involve sex with a partner, but it may also mean activities such as viewing pornography, masturbation, visiting prostitutes or using sex chat lines,” it explains, claiming that while for most people such habits don’t cause problems, sex addicts are unable to control these urges and actions.
Causes can of course be more complex, while for some – a fast-growing number, according to Hall – it’s simply opportunity-induced.
Nobody is suggesting partners should stay, she stresses. But even then, they need support with rebuilding trust and reclaiming their sexuality.” Rachel agrees.
“Much as my husband tried to stop his behaviours by understanding the nature of sex addiction, he wasn’t willing to delve into the cause.
“The reality of the Western world today means you can find anything you desire easily and anonymously.
Indeed, you can find a whole load of stuff you don’t desire, but get hooked nonetheless,” she says.
Eight years into her marriage, Rachel started to wonder if her husband had lost interest in sex.
“He’d always go to bed later than me and often made excuses when I brought it up,” explains the 41-year-old.“So when he sat me down one day to tell me he was a sex addict, I actually laughed – although I soon stopped when he disclosed night upon night of watching pornography for hours on end and numerous short-lived affairs.My life fell apart.” Sex addiction hurts partners in a way that no other addiction can, says Paula Hall, who has written a book on the subject.To be fair on Rachel’s friends, there is some debate about whether the term sex addiction is scientifically accurate, but the field of addiction is changing fast and emphasis is shifting from the substance to the psychological symptoms of addiction.The NHS has a website page dedicated to sex addiction.I felt that meant the risk of relapse was too great, so I left.