Give sex addicts more help from NHS, says charity

Relate says the addiction can have a ‘crippling effect’ on sufferers’ lives

Russell Brand
Russell Brand is among the celebrities who have talked openly about sex addiction
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Relationship charity Relate is calling for the NHS to offer more help and treatment for sex addicts.

The charity describes the condition as “any sexual activity that feels out of control”, which can include practices such as viewing pornography, masturbation, visiting prostitutes, and experiencing excessive sexual fantasies.

Although some experts have cast doubt over the existence of the disorder, Relate insists that “being sexually addicted is not defined by the activity itself but by the possible negative effect on the individual’s quality of life and on those around them”, which makes it harder to classify the condition.

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Russell Brand and Ozzy Osbourne are among the celebrities who have claimed to suffer from sex addiction.

Speaking to the BBC, Relate spokesperson Peter Saddington said that while therapy and support for sex addicts is available, most of it is privately run.

“For alcoholics, there is Alcoholics Anonymous, but they can also go to the NHS [which] provides support for people who have alcohol or drug problems,” Saddington said.

“It would be appropriate that [sex addicts] can go to their GP and get support, because it has a crippling effect both on them, on relationships, on their families, their financial situation and their mental health. [Addicts] realise it is causing harm, but they can’t stop and they recognise they need help in changing it.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “People who think they may have a sex addiction can seek advice and help via NHS Choices, which includes contacts at Relate, Sexaholics Anonymous, SAA [Sex Addicts Anonymous] and ATSAC [the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity].”

According to the findings of questionnaire completed by 21,058 people since 2013 on the Sex Addiction Help website, 91% of those seeking help for sex addiction were male. A total of 31% were aged between 26 and 35, while 1% were under 16, and 8% over 55.

The World Health Organisation is expected to approve the inclusion of “compulsive sexual behaviour disorder” in its updated International Classification of Diseases (ICD) list in May 2019, the BBC reports.

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