Female Sex Addicts Miss Out

By Anthony Daconti 09/22/11

Women are underrepresented in sex addiction treatment, which may be one reason why they don't always get the therapy they need.

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Female sex addiction is currently causing ripples in the blogosphere. Following some semi-serious speculation about whether Gwyneth Paltrow might fit this category, a blog item from Canada's Globe and Mail  pointed out that while many of us would automatically picture sex addicts as male, a small-but-significant 8-12% of those seeking treatment for this condition are female—a figure that is said to underestimate the extent of problem among women. The Globe and Mail got this number from Robert Weiss, LCSW, who founded the Sexual Recovery Institute and is Director of Sexual Disorders Services at Promises and The Ranch rehabs. Weiss penned his own blog post this week, highlighting how a simple lack of love and affection often turns people to addictive behaviors in order to feel “a part of something.” He points out that the ability to "engage and trust deep attachments" must be learned, and adds that drug abuse and sexual acting out are often "fused in a misguided attempt to meet the simple human needs we all share for connection, desirability, and inclusion." He quotes from a woman in recovery from both drug and sex addictions: “Drugs gave me a sense of connection to people I was using with,” explains the recovering professional. “Having drugs... made me ‘desirable’ to people. I was everybody’s ‘friend’. She describes years of failed therapy, administered by people who took the wrong approach for her: "many clinicians wanted to focus on the drugs themselves and the sexual trauma that I had faced in my younger years. I was faced on my own with the daunting task of sorting through my attachments with role models as far back as 3 to 5-years-old." It wasn't until she worked with a therapist who "focused on my lifelong social anxiety, learned isolation and adult challenges and fears about truly connecting with people, that I was able to evolve into having healthy adult relationships, boundaries and real intimacy.” If, as Weiss says, female sex addicts are less likely than their male counterparts to seek treatment—leaving addiction professionals relatively unfamiliar with this area—it may be that such missed opportunities in therapy are sadly no rare thing.

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