Sex addiction: The rising epidemic affecting college students


The phrase “it’s human nature” often comes to mind when the topic of sex is brought up. But during the last few years, studies show that sex addiction has become a widely acknowledged medical condition.

The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health estimates that nearly five percent of Americans suffer from some type of sexual compulsive disorder.

Most people who have the disorder don’t report it, which makes it hard to keep an accurate count on the actual numbers who are affected.

People who perform compulsive sexual acts or have obsessive thoughts of sex are often referred to as sex addicts.

The growing popularity of the term sex addict, and its acceptance as a medical illness, has been seen all over the media in recent years.

Most notably, celebrities such as Charlie Sheen and Tiger Woods have blamed sex addiction for their divorces, according to People Magazine.

Most college students are experiencing life without the watchful eye of their parents for the first time. Students arrive on campus and begin to explore their newfound freedom and the inquisitiveness that comes with it.

The rise of sex addiction among college students is viewed in many ways. Some students say the term sex addict is a medical cover-up for promiscuous behavior.

“A player is going to get his no matter what the case is,” said Gianna Washington, a senior anthropology student from Tampa. “It doesn’t matter how many times or what the next person has to say about it. It’s not a disease– it’s a game.”

The contributing factors behind being a sex addict can range from previous sexual abuse to anxiety and stress.

Research shows that a sex addict’s strong desires and sexual urges causes them to make irrational and unsafe decisions. There are also students who recognize this type of behavior may not necessarily be a lifestyle choice.

“I remember my very first roommate would tell me stories of how he was having unprotected sex all the time,” said Kervin Cerne, a junior biology student from Ft. Lauderdale. “I would ask him if he was crazy, and he always told me that it was something inside him that made him not care.”

Low self-esteem and self-worth are some side effects of being addicted to sex. Being a sex addict can also have financial, physical and mental effects, which are often invisible to the people around them.

The costs associated with pornography magazines, downloads and sex hot lines can easily add up. An estimated $13 billion is generated each year by the online porn industry alone, according to Family Safe Media.

Most college students live on a tight budget, and having an expensive addiction could cripple their financial states.

 Sex addicts also have an increased chance of contracting sexually transmitted diseases due to their frequent and often careless encounters.

According to Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), roughly 19 million new STD infections occur among people ages 15-24 each year.

“People come in here with these symptoms and act clueless,” said Carlos Pittman, a physician’s assistant at Dr. Luis Anez, MD, Family Practice in Jacksonville..  “I’ve noticed a pattern among the younger patients. After talking for a few minutes the truth kind of comes out. A lot of them break down and say they can’t help themselves.”

Pittman also noted that many patients also showed signs of “embarrassment ” after the actions behind their symptoms come to light.

For more information on sexual addiction or help finding treatment, contact Sex Addicts Anonymous at 1-800-477-8191.