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It also could be tied to abnormal levels of the brain chemical dopamine or serotonin.
Or, problems related to attention, impulse control, or emotional regulation could also be involved.
"It is no more about sex than an eating disorder is about food or pathological gambling is about money." Sex addicts, in other words, are not simply people who crave lots of sex.
Instead, they have underlying problems -- stress, anxiety, depression, shame -- that drive their often risky sexual behavior.
"People are going to seek help, and there doesn't need to be diagnosable condition for them to get help," Reid says."There are so many models or theories that we can look at to help us understand HD," Reid says."An addiction model is just one of them." There isn't much research on what treatments work best.Someone with less than a year sober should stay focused on their recovery program, not dating.This guideline is designed to protect the addict as well as the people they might date.In working with the spouses and significant others of addicts, I’ve often heard it said, “I’d rather be an addict than love one.” While few people would ever walk eyes-wide-open into a chronic disease like addiction, the statement speaks to the confusion, loneliness and despair common not only among addicts but also the men and women who love them. In fact, addicts who are solid in their recovery can make excellent partners.A history of addiction doesn’t necessarily turn Mr./Mrs. They’ve waged a courageous battle, spending a great deal of time working to take care of and improve themselves."The world comes crashing down," says Reid, "and some say, 'I'm glad that I got caught.'" There are no reliable estimates of how many people have the disorder.Some studies suggest that it's more common in men, and gay men in particular, than women."We don't know if the [brain] mechanisms associated with HD behavior operate the same ways as a substance disorder or pathological gambling," Reid says.Reid says HD behavior can appear similar to those associated with obsessive compulsive disorder.