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Causes can of course be more complex, while for some – a fast-growing number, according to Hall – it’s simply opportunity-induced.“The reality of the Western world today means you can find anything you desire easily and anonymously.Indeed, you can find a whole load of stuff you don’t desire, but get hooked nonetheless,” she says.Traditionally, most partners of sex addicts have been treated as co-dependents, says Hall.“Although there is usually huge reluctance for partners to seek help, let alone come into a group, because of the privacy and shame, something happens in these groups that liberates these women – and I say women because in my experience, it is usually women who access them,” says Rosendale, who still runs the group at the Marylebone Centre, London.

Joy Rosendale, a sex-addiction therapist specialising in partner work, instigated the first one in the UK back in 2005, following her own experiences.

The NHS has a website page dedicated to sex addiction.

“It could involve sex with a partner, but it may also mean activities such as viewing pornography, masturbation, visiting prostitutes or using sex chat lines,” it explains, claiming that while for most people such habits don’t cause problems, sex addicts are unable to control these urges and actions.

Like most partners, she initially didn’t buy into the concept of sex addiction (“it sounded like a pretty weak excuse for an affair”) and even when she did start to believe that her husband’s behaviour was compulsive, her friends didn’t (“they’d look at me in despair, asking since when had sexual desire became a monster that can’t be controlled”), leaving her feeling isolated.

To be fair on Rachel’s friends, there is some debate about whether the term sex addiction is scientifically accurate, but the field of addiction is changing fast and emphasis is shifting from the substance to the psychological symptoms of addiction.

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