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  • I’m spending time every day on the internet for sexual activities, I’ve tried to stop and can’t. Do I have a sexual addiction?
  • My spouse or teenager is viewing internet pornography. I am worried. How should I handle this?
  • All of my sexual relationships have been arranged through sexual chatting on the internet. Am I sexually addicted?

What the experts say: Sexual Addiction and Compulsion

Sexual behaviors, much like alcohol and other substance abuse, fall along a spectrum of degrees. These range from complete abstinence to mild use to increasing degrees of sexual excess and finally to full-blown addiction.

The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity describes sexual addiction as “Persisting and escalating pattern of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.”

Internet pornography has become the “crack cocaine” of the sexual addictions. Cyberporn earns over $1 billion annually. 50% of all spending on the internet is related to sexual activity. Three main factors facilitate increased online sexual activity:

Accessibility – there are millions of sites available 24/7 right in one’s home or office.

Affordability – competition on the web keeps prices low and there are many ways to access “free” porn.

Common characteristics of sexual addiction include:

  • increasing amounts of online time focused on sexual behavior
  • failed attempts to cut back on the amount of internet sex time
  • decreasing social or family interaction due to online involvement
  • primary focus of sexual and romantic activity is related to the web
  • sexual behavior effects work, hobbies, friends and family
  • sex is used to control moods and manage anxiety and stress


Like all addictions, sexual addiction requires comprehensive treatment because of the impact on the addict, spouse, family and loved ones. The addiction is treatable. The addict and loved ones are helped to learn strategies to change thinking, to manage stress effectively and to improve the quality of their interpersonal relationships. Individual, psychiatric, group, couple and family psychotherapy may be used to treat problems related to the addiction. There are also a variety of 12-step programs for the addict and their loved ones. Due to the power of sexual addiction the treatment process may be lengthy.

For more information visit www.ncsac.org.

Birmingham Maple Clinic | Michigan Mental Health