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David Sack, chief executive of Los Angeles’s Promises Treatment Centers.See all of the in these slideshows New high-tech tools are also making it easier to meet strangers for a quick romp.This year the epidemic has spread to movies and TV.In November the Logo television network began airing Bad Sex, a reality series following a group of men and women with severe sexual issues, most notably addiction. 2, the acclaimed psychosexual drama Shame arrives in theaters.Valerie called phone-sex chat lines and pored over online pornography, masturbating so compulsively that it wasn’t uncommon for her to choose her vibrator over going to work.She craved public exhibitionism, too, particularly at strip clubs, and even accepted money in exchange for sex—not out of financial necessity but for the illicit rush such acts gave her.Where previous generations had to risk public embarrassment at dirty bookstores and X-rated movie theaters, the Web has made pornography accessible, free, and anonymous. And though watching porn isn’t the same as seeking out real live sex, experts say the former can be a kind of gateway drug to the latter.“Not everyone who looks at a nude image is going to become a sex addict.But the constant exposure is going to trigger people who are susceptible,” says Dr.
The website Ashley promises “affairs guaranteed” by connecting people looking for sex outside their marriages; the site says it has 12.2 million members.
Valerie realized that sex was wrecking her life right around the time her second marriage disintegrated.
At 30, and employed as a human-resources administrator in Phoenix, she had serially cheated on both her husbands—often with their subordinates and co-workers—logging anonymous hookups in fast-food-restaurant bathrooms, affairs with married men, and one-night stands too numerous to count. Not even after one man’s wife aimed a shotgun at her head while catching them in flagrante delicto.
“It’s a national epidemic,” says Steven Luff, coauthor of Pure Eyes: A Man’s Guide to Sexual Integrity and leader of the X3LA sexual-addiction recovery groups in Hollywood.
Reliable figures for the number of diagnosed sex addicts are difficult to come by, but the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, an education and sex-addiction treatment organization, estimates that between 3 and 5 percent of the U. population—or more than 9 million people—could meet the criteria for addiction.