There has been a “dramatic increase” in the number of people seeking treatment for sex addiction, a psychotherapist has said.
Sex addiction has been described as any sexual activity that feels ‘out of control’ and includes sex with a partner, pornography, masturbation, visiting sex workers or calling chat lines.
Sex addiction can have a hugely negative impact on someone’s wellbeing and Donal Clifford of Sex and Love Therapy (SALT) in Cork says it is becoming more of a problem.
“Two years ago, we had a group of eight and we’re now up to five groups a week,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“We’re seeing 60 odd people a week coming to the service and that’s a dramatic increase in two years.”
Multiple issues can trigger sex addiction - such as the breakup of a relationship, social isolation or mental health problems - but Mr Clifford said that “loss of relationships is probably the biggest one.”
Despite this, many people who are in relationships suffer from the addiction as well.
“Generally, what happens is, if someone is using pornography, they’re not being intimate with their partner,” he said.
“And not just physical intimacy but also emotional intimacy.”
Mr Clifford said that restrictions during the pandemic also caused people to change their sexual behaviour.
“When the lockdowns came, Ireland’s use of pornography skyrocketed,” he said.
“Per head of capita, we do use a lot of pornography.”
For those who think they are addicted to sex, Mr Clifford said reaching out for help and finding someone to talk to is the best way to deal with the issue.
“People are quite good at reaching out for help,” he said.
“I think there’s this myth out there that people don’t reach out for help - they do… Just making a start and even just being able to talk to someone about it is a good way to start.”
Main image: Man with a smartphone. Picture by: Alamy.com