Sex therapist group says sex, pornography cannot be addictive

Group says sex, porn not addictive in response to Utah's porn public health crisis

(KUTV) "There is no such thing as an addiction to sex or pornography."

The new controversial statement comes from American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, known as AASECT. The organization certifies and trains therapists in sex education.

Founded in 1967, AASECT is devoted to the promotion of sexual health by the development and advancement of the fields of sexual education, counseling and therapy. The formal stance comes as Utah legislator's push to label pornography as a "public health crisis” in a state where treatment of sex and porn addictions is big business.

The question now: Can you be addicted to porn or sex? AASECT says no; you can have urges but not addiction.

Its statement says there is not, "sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder."

Candice Christiansen, a Salt Lake-area certified sex addiction therapists said AASECTS' statement is dangerous.

“I work with folks who will look at pornography while driving, who are acting out until their life is in ruins,” she said. “We are talking about behavior that is out of control.”

Christiansen works with people who can't work or live normal lives because, she said, they're so addicted to sex or pornography, She has worked with men who have masturbated to the point of injury.

“The reality is people are suffering and we need to treat it,” she said.

Porn "addiction" has been the subject of debate among psychologists for years. The debate heated up earlier this year when Utah State Sen. Todd Weiler called porn a health crisis.

In March, Weiler called porn “addictive” adding that it has “the same impact as drugs.”

Psychology today- reacted to Weiler’s bill, calling his stance a moral one based on pseudoscience.

“Not all people get addicted to pornography,” Christiansen said.

Sex addiction therapists can agree not all people who view pornography become addicted, but those who do need professional help. The issue, many say, can be compared to the way some people get addicted to narcotics while some don’t. That doesn’t mean the addicts should be ignored.

“This is not something where people say this is fun for me. It is destroying lives.”

Christiansen said addiction related to porn and sex are not excuses, but real problems.

Current science can't agree on the issue of sex, pornography and addiction -- making it unlikely sex addiction counseling will end any time soon. How it will effect national campaigns like Fight The New Drug is tough to say. The not-for-profit works to educate teens on the dangers of porn.

Christiansen says AASECTS statement, “is very dismissive of those who are suffering and desperate for help.”

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