Sexual addiction is a term used to describe the behavior of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or obsession and addiction with sex. The nomenclature of "addiction" is not universally accepted by scientists, and is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association. Those who use this term have described sex addicts as people who, possibly out of fear of any truly intimate relationship, repeatedly and compulsively try to connect with others through highly impersonal intimate behaviors: masturbation, empty affairs, frequent visits to prostitutes, voyeurism, and the like. Sex addicts—numbering in the millions, both men and women, young and old, of all races and religions—become mesmerized with the thrill and rush of adrenaline that they can achieve only through their obsessive, highly ritualized patterns of sexual behavior. Sexual addiction, also called sexual compulsion is a form of psychological addiction.
The behavior of sex addicts is comparable to behavior of alcoholics and [drug] addicts, where sex functions like a drug. A common definition of alcoholism is that a person has a pathological relationship with this mood altering drug. It provides a quick mood change, works every time and the user loses control over their compulsion. Like alcoholics, sex addicts' lives rotate around the constant desire for their "drug" of choice.
* The Mayo Clinic uses compulsive sexual behavior for sexual addiction, and identifies characteristics of the sex addict as "an overwhelming need for sex and are so intensely preoccupied with this need that it interferes with your job and your relationships. [...] You may spend inordinate amounts of time in sexually related activities and neglect important aspects of your day-to-day life in social, occupational and recreational areas. You may find yourself failing repeatedly at attempts to reduce or control your sexual activities or desires."
* According to Counseling Affiliates, an addiction is at work when sex becomes shameful, secret, or abusive.
* The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health further illustrates addiction by outlining several key components: "Compulsivity, that is, loss of the ability to choose freely whether to stop or to continue; Continuation of the behavior despite adverse consequences, such as loss of health, job, marriage, or freedom; Obsession with the activity."