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Page last updated at 08:00 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Women get help for sex addiction

By Sima Kotecha
Newsbeat US reporter in Santa Fe

Feet in bed

It's more likely you'll hear of a man being a sex addict than a woman.

But Newsbeat's own research has found that there's a growing number of females seeking help for the condition in the UK.

Many therapists in the US say it's the same there.

Rob Weiss, a sex addiction specialist, estimates around 20% of sex addicts in America are women.

He works at the Life Healing Centre in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which specialises in sex addiction treatment at a price: around 20,000 for a month's therapy.

Newsbeat spent a day in rehab with the female patients.

Group therapy

The women addicts live together on campus in a red bricked bungalow.

There are five bedrooms and each room has two or three single beds. Patients are not allowed TVs, laptops, or mobile phones.

They start off their day by chanting "it's not your fault".

I compulsively had solo sex. I started touching myself about three or four times a day

Kandis, a 20-year-old sex addict

The councillors encourage the patients to do this because they believe sex addiction is a condition that doesn't deserve blame, but requires treatment.

Most of the group therapy sessions happen in the bungalow in the common area which is in the middle of the building.

There are a couple of couches and a small wooden coffee table on the side.

A couple of books are stacked on it. Holding cushions and covering themselves with blankets, the women are sitting on the sofas.

They're talking about their feelings. They list the characteristics of a sex addict as someone who's lonely, wants to be loved and craves physical intimacy.

Kandis is a 20-year-old sex addict. She was a prostitute for two years. Her motivation was her pimp.

Women's bungalow
Women at the centre live in bungalows on the grounds
He said: "I loved him and wanted to do anything to keep him happy, and if that meant selling my body, I did it."

But their relationship became difficult, which led to Kandis behaving differently.

"I compulsively had solo sex. I started touching myself about three or four times a day," she added.

"It was constant whenever I started feeling sad or angry or upset."

Kandis couldn't stop. She felt it gave her the comfort she was looking for during this difficult time.

It was a short term fix to her depression and loneliness.

Patients' pasts

But Philip Hodson from the British Association for Counselling doesn't believe Kandis is really a sex addict.

He said: "She is somebody who may be highly sexed but I'm sure if somebody put a gun to her head and said, 'Stop getting turned on and start getting worried', she would change her mind."

Sex clinic labyrinth
Patients can walk around a labyrinth when they're feeling low
He thinks the term 'sex addiction' is inappropriately used, saying the behaviour would be better described as compulsive or obsessive.

Another girl who didn't want to give her name, disagrees.

She's a sex addict and had virtual sex with strangers in chat rooms.

She said: "A lot of people would chat online and whatever, but this was definitely a sexual addiction.

"It wasn't about making friends. It wasn't about the latest television episode. It was all about sex."

Whether male or female, sex addicts usually crave intimacy.

At the Life Healing Centre, they focus on finding out the cause of the addiction.

This is done through exploring the patient's past.

Many of the addicts have been sexually abused as children. Others have had rocky relationships with their parents.

For Kandis, there's no doubt she is an addict. She's been celibate for eight weeks, and hasn't masturbated.

She said: "If it's an everyday need you can't live without, then you have a problem.

"If you need it that bad, you might wanna turn around and examine it and take it outside from yourself for a minute and see what's really going on on the inside that you're trying to escape from."

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