All three men are married and have recently been accused of cheating on their wives and of being "sex addicts. Some argue that sexual addiction is merely an excuse used by people accused of having extramarital affairs. But Levy, who treats sex addicts in the Triangle, says the affliction is real.
Levy says the majority of his clients are married men who have been caught leading a secret life. Sexual addiction has been recognized by the medical field since the early s, but, Levy said, the Internet has played a key role in spreading the addiction. They spend hours on the computer looking at porn.
What's the big deal? All men do this,'" Levy said. Levy says sex addicts often struggle with feelings of anxiety, depression, shame and conflict avoidance. It is also not unusual for clients to have underlying anxiety or mood disorders. The majority of sex addicts do not seek out their spouses to feed their addiction, but rather disconnect emotionally from the people they love, Levy said.
When online porn isn't enough, the addicts turn to more dangerous activities. They'll have anonymous sex. They deny they have a problem, yet there's an impulsive, an out-of-control aspect as their sexual behavior gets more destructive. They continue even when there are negative consequences, such as losing their marriage or job.
As with many other types of addiction, they're always looking for that next high. Levy says it's not always clear why someone becomes a sex addict. Some researchers suggest a genetic link but they don't know for sure. Levy says he often uses the following chocolate cake analogy to explain the addiction. Results can be seen quickly, but recovery can often take years and as with alcoholism, there is no cure.
The success rate is high, Levy says, and marriages can be saved, and sometimes become stronger. Levy also stressed that sex addicts are not criminals, child molesters or rapists.
That's a whole different category, he said. If you or someone you know is suffering from sexual addiction, help is available. Many counselors, like Levy, treat people with sex addiction. Sex Addicts Anonymous also offers area support groups for people suffering from and with the affliction. Other national support groups include: