It’s all in the Definition: How I Define a Sex Addict

Sex Is Not Equal To Love

I admittedly suffered for nearly 12 years with sex addiction. While I am grateful God’s grace was able to bring me out of my addiction; I realize that me being able to recognize I was an addict was crucial. In order for an addict to admit he or she has an addiction, that person must first be able to identify what the addiction is and how it is playing itself out in their lives.

Our current American Society idolizes and praises most men, and a few women, who are known for their sexual conquests. If a person is able to mimic the behavior of a “celebrity,” why would that person feel he/she has a problem; much less an addiction. Therefore, sex addicts are already at a disadvantage of diagnosing their addiction. When people realize that the images being portrayed in the media have substantial consequences which are typically overlooked, ignored and strategically hidden; they will be able to make the connection that their behavior might be a problem. Several don’t realize it until they have their fall from grace.

Tiger Woods, Patrick Dempsey, Kobe Bryant, George Michael, Ted Haggard, Eric Benet, and Jesse James. What do they all allegedly have in common? An addiction that almost ruined their lives and the lives of the people around them.

It seems lately that every time we turn around a new sex addict is being busted by the media. Professional athletes, actors, entertainers, even religious leaders—no one seems to be able to escape the scrutiny. Luckily, I haven’t had to truly endure the public humiliation these men have. Still, my story mirrors theirs. In fact, mine may be worse.


So how do I define a sex addict? Let me first start by saying, I am not a licensed professional counselor, nor do I hold any certification in the fields of psychology or psychiatry. However, as a former sex addict, who was diagnosed by a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), I believe my definition can be understood by most lay persons. My definition centers around one of the two main themes in my memoir Sex and Surrender; which is ADDICTION = PAIN.

Sex Addict: a person who uses sex (in whatever form) to handle, manage or escape pain

I placed “in whatever form” in parenthesis because, sex has multiple forms besides the act of sexual intercourse. Someone who just watches porn can be a sex addict. At the root of any addiction is pain. When pain reaches the point where an individual’s number one priority, consciously or unconsciously, becomes acting out sexually (in whatever form) with little or no regard to the consequences the thought or act(s) has on his/her or others’ lives; that person is a sex addict in my opinion.

To get a more technical or clinically accepted definition of sex addiction, I would suggest researching Dr. Patrick Carnes work. He is considered by most the leader on sex addiction recovery. His books Out of the Shadows and Facing the Shadow were helpful in my recovery.

The purpose of this blog posting is to help sex addicts, and/or anyone being affected by sex addiction, gain a clearer definition of a sex addict. For more insight on the habits, characteristics and traits associated with sex addiction please go to The Sex Test. In addition to The Sex Test, which was based on my personal experiences and observations of other sex addicts, the website lists several Helpful Tools.

Helping others in the Journey,

A.D. Burks

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