12/25/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Devastating Effects Of Sex Addiction

Sex addiction has been in the media spotlight lately, thanks largely to David Duchovny, the actor who happens to play a sex-obsessed writer on TV's Californication and who went into rehab for the condition in August. In the movie Choke, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, Sam Rockwell plays a medical-school dropout who goes to sex-addict recovery groups, looking to hook up. New York author Susan Cheever has just released Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction (Simon & Schuster), a book about her own relentless need for love and sex. And the theme of sexual addiction shows up in Quebec filmmaker Lyne Charlebois's Borderline.

Sex addiction is also the object of plenty of mockery. Even Logan says he used to joke that if you had to have an addiction, sex would be the best. "It's the worst," he says now. "It eats away at your soul. You live with shame. You live a double life. I could not stop it. I knew that one day I would get found out. It's a soul-killing disease."

Hattiesburg, Mississippi--based counsellor-psychologist Patrick Carnes introduced sex addiction to the public when he wrote Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction in 1985. In 1992, he released Don't Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction, a book that features results from a study he conducted of 1,000 addicts and their families.

According to Carnes, three to six percent of the U.S. population is addicted to sex. He's not talking about those who merely have a strong sex drive. "It is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict's life," Carnes explains on his Web site. "Sexual addicts make sex a priority more important than family, friends, and work. Sex becomes the organizing principle of addicts' lives. They are willing to sacrifice what they cherish most in order to preserve and continue their unhealthy behavior."


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