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Sex Addiction: As Real As Any Other

Actor David Duchovny checking into rehab recently for treatment of what he says is an addiction to sex drew attention to the disorder.

Christie Brinkley accusing her ex-husband, Peter Cooke, of spending thousands of dollars on Internet porn also pointed to it.

And, on The Early Show Tuesday, sex therapist Ian Kerner, author of "Sex Detox: Recharge Desire. Revitalize Intimacy. Rejuvenate Your Love Life," said sex addiction is real.

He told co-anchor Julie Chen, "The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize the term sex addiction, because it's so broad. So generally, the terms hyper-sexuality, sexually compulsive behavior are what get used, but it's very much a real condition, and what the latest scientific research is showing is that all addictions, whether it's an addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or sex, affects the human brain in the same way. So, I think we can definitely say that sexually compulsive behavior is a very real problem for millions of people."

And Kerner points to the Internet as a culprit.

"The Internet, I think, has been the No. 1 enabler of the increase in sexually compulsive behavior. Whereas, in previous years, you might have thought of a sex addict as somebody who's compulsively cheating, hooking up, having affairs, I think today, millions more men are vulnerable -- especially men -- are vulnerable to sexually compulsive behavior because of the proliferation of Internet porn and the easy access of internet porn. So, I think that's definitely the No. 1 problem for people who are suffering from sexually compulsive behavior."

How common is it for a woman to be suffering from this kind of addiction?

"There are no real, hard numbers on sex addiction," Kerner replied. "I mean, we know that Internet porn addiction is affecting millions of people. In my own practice, I hear largely from men who are having the problem, but you know, for many men, there's always a woman on the other side of the issue. I mean, this affects relationships, as well."

How can sex addiction be treated?

"One common way would be -- if you have the money, the time, and the ability -- to check into rehab. The reason David probably did that is because he needs to detox."

And to do that, says Kerner, someone has to "cut it off, cold turkey. You know, you go cold turkey, you combine it with counseling. You look at, really, what are the triggers? For many men, it's not a desire to have sex that leads to sex addiction, it's a desire to escape, to escape anxiety, stress, depression, issues. So, (one would) look at those situations that trigger the behavior and to start to be able to regulate and control it."

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