Koerselman says: “There’s something going on chemically, it’s not just a behaviour problem. Especially with sex addiction that’s the case.” US website loveaddictiontreatment.com explains the process like this: “Oxytocin and other chemicals like endorphins and dopamine are released in spades, engaging the reward circuit in our brains. Connecting intimately with a person makes us feel good with the very same chemicals we become addicted to through the use of any addictive substance, such as heroin or cocaine.”
Some. In 2014 a brain study by the University of Cambridge turned up what many say is powerful evidence sex addiction is a legitimate neurobiological and emotional disorder. But New Zealand therapist Mary Hodson says many researchers criticised the study “because the group studied was very, very small and therefore it is unwise to assume the results would hold true for a larger group.”
No. If you accept the concept of love and sex addiction, you’re recognising it’s a progressive condition – like alcohol or drug dependency – and should be treated as such. In the US, there are trauma-focused residential programmes, intensive outpatient programmes, individual therapy and group therapy. In New Zealand, the option is pretty much relationship therapy and 12-step programmes. Nic Beets is sceptical about the notion of addiction, but sees nothing wrong with a 12-step programme if people find it useful. It’s a tool “that can be used for good and some people really confront themselves. Whatever path you use to do that is a path for growth.” As for a self-avowed love addict, group support – plus having a sponsor – can be life-changing.
Photographs by: Miles Aldridge / trunkarchive.com / Snapper Media / Bauersyndication.com.au