Earlier this year the World Health Organization (WHO) officially designated addiction to video games as “gaming disorder”. Now it has recognized compulsive sexual behaviour as a mental disorder. However, this announcement comes with some caveats.
Sex addiction as a term has been used for years, and we have a specialized page on sex addiction treatment on our website. Many therapists say that they specialize in sex addiction as part of their addiction medicine. However, experts disagree over whether it is even a true condition. The WHO stated that it is a mental illness, although have not classified as an addictive behaviour. WHO expert Geoffrey Reed said, “conservatively speaking, we don’t feel that the evidence is there yet… that the process is equivalent to the process with alcohol or heroin.” The health organization’s update of the International Classification of Disease (ICD) in June said compulsive sexual behaviour disorder (CSBD) is “characterized by persistent failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges… that cause marked distress or impairment” but that it could not be concluded yet that CSBD constitutes the manifestation of a behavioural addiction.
Some may think this is an on-the-fence ruling, but this actually helps a lot of people who are looking for clinical help. The ICD is the benchmark for doctors giving diagnoses, and for health insurance companies. Now that there is a classification, people who have CSBD have greater access to services and resources. It is also important to remember that just like alcohol consumption or playing video games, everyone will have a different level of activity that they find normal. What pushes an activity to an addiction level is when doing that activity is negatively impacting someone’s life. Some people may have a high libido, but if their sexual activities are consensual and do not cause negative ramifications in other areas of their life, there is likely no addiction present. If you are questioning the safety or frequency of your sexual encounters take a look at “The 3 Cs of Addiction” and consider giving our specialist a call to find out the options available to you.
JMC – 2018.07.25