Although sex addiction is the name, researchers and clinicians still debate about what exactly constitutes the game. A few years ago, there was an effort to add a brand new diagnosis of “Hypersexual Disorder” to the list of official psychiatric diagnoses, but ultimately the attempt was rejected. Left without a legitimate diagnosis, those suffering do their best to get help for a problem without a name or consistent description.
Whatever you call it, it’s a real thing. And sex addiction is more than just spending too much time at the mall and calling yourself a shopaholic, or eating too much Godiva and calling yourself a chocoholic. Indeed, there’s research to suggest that sex addiction is not unlike drug addiction. A study out of none other than the University of Cambridge found the same engagement of several brain areas—all involved in reward and motivation—in people with compulsive sexual behavior as previously found in people struggling with drug addiction.
But sex addiction is particularly hard to talk about (agh, double entendre alert!) because it quickly gets into the realm of moralizing. Is the behavior really a problem? Or just a problem to judgmental prudes? Here’s how to tell if your sex life is ruining your actual life.