Some experts believe it's more addictive than drugs, more destructive than alcohol and more misunderstood than other addictions. What's destroying thousands of lives and relationships across the country? Sex.
Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction specialist and host of the VH1 reality series Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, says sex addiction is the most hidden, most shameful disease in America. "It is one of the problems of our time," he says. "We've just been through a period of history where sexuality was viewed as a revolution and [people thought] it's okay to do whatever you're into, but the fact is, sexuality has become a drug in our culture."
Sex addiction isn't as simple as promiscuity. Dr. Drew defines the disease as an intimacy disorder. People who are addicted to sex may be afraid or unfamiliar with intimacy, so they substitute sex for real human closeness.
"Sexuality is something that should make you feel good about yourself," Dr. Drew says. "[When you're a sex addict], you've lost control of your sexuality."
Men and women who experience negative consequences from sex, yet continue the same behavior, are considered addicts. "The biggest issue is consequences," Dr. Drew says. "Work, school, finances, relationships, health, legal status...those areas of your life are being threatened."