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It can take years of spinning our wheels in the mud before we realize that we aren’t making any progress in a certain area of our lives.

Some people think that sex addiction isn’t a ‘real’ addiction.

The men and women seated around me, legs crossed and arms folded, draped over orange plastic chairs, would see right through me any second now. Sure, I’ve felt a deeply permeating sense of shame at the core of my being after compulsively acting out sexually. The more I listened to the stories of the people around me, the more I realized that I was in the right place.

Even though I was staring down at the floor, I could feel their eyes burning in to me. And, if I’m being honest with myself, I’ve probably cumulatively spent weeks of my life watching porn, scanning sex ads, and frequenting massage parlours and sex workers in multiple countries. As human beings we have a brilliant capacity for bullshitting ourselves.

For some people, sex addiction looks like chronic masturbation to porn, where they don’t feel like they can function in society without climaxing at least seven times a day.

For others, sex addiction could look like occasional flare ups of wanting to ‘use’ or ‘act out’ with sex workers only when they’re going through emotionally trying times (breakups, divorces, losing their jobs, death of a friend or family member, etc.). I know sex addicts who have knowingly had unprotected sex with people who had life threatening STI’s.

So what is sex addiction, and why is it so frequently misunderstood?

To say that "there are people who perceive that they have been harmed through SOCE" suggests that the evidence of harm is largely anecdotal.

Yet advocates of therapy bans dismiss similar anecdotal evidence (as well as clinical and research evidence) of the effectiveness and benefits of SOCE.

Or, as one SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous) member once so eloquently put it in a meeting that I attended, “When I act out with sex workers, I’m not thinking to myself ‘Oh boy, this is going to be super fun! But rather, I’m thinking ‘I have such a tornado of pain inside of myself that I either have to kill myself or compulsively act out to numb the pain.'”Compulsive sexual behaviour is what sex addicts use to numb out their emotions, just like alcoholics often use staying drunk to avoid feeling their underlying difficult emotions.

Sexual addiction, just like any drug addiction, can have a sliding scale of symptoms – ranging in severity.

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