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I have a friend who is a sex addict. I shouldn't call him a friend. Not that I am ashamed of associating with sex addicts (if there is such a thing, which is the subject of this post). But as my father has said, "Your only true friends are yogis." A yogi is anyone who practices yoga. Yoga is not just about downward dogs and sweaty mats. Yoga is the practice of spiritual union. Of merging the lower self (ego-based personality) with the higher Self, Source of all that is. A yogi has either realized this goal or is steadfastly progressing towards it. And since I am the only yogi I know, I am also my only friend. Granted, I don't go out much.

I do care about this guy. But I care about everyone, so this isn't very specific. Let's call the guy "Steve." Now Steve is about as far from a yogi as anyone I've ever met. For years the only union he has sought is to merge his nether part with the hole of any woman who would take his money. Mostly hookers and strippers. But also swingers and randoms of either sex he's met on the Internet. This addiction has broken up his marriage, led to a hospital admission for a fractured penis, basically caused no small amount of strife in his life.

Steve is currently in recovery.

I asked Steve how it all began. What are the makings of a sex addict? He told me that drugs were always involved. Cocaine mostly, but also Viagra so he could "keep it up." Did he ever seek out women when not high on drugs? Not really. Did he engage in other risk-taking while high on drugs? Yes. Compulsive gambling. He has racked up casino debts in the tens of thousands of dollars, all while coked out of his mind. I asked him if he called himself a gambling addict. His answer was no. "I only gamble when I'm high." I pointed out that this is also the only time he seeks out sex. So why focus on a sex addiction that may not even be there?

Indeed, if you ask many experts, they will tell you that there is no such thing as sex addiction. Well, it depends who you ask. The DSM, the bible of diagnosing, has chosen not to include sex addiction in its most recent edition. Which has pervasive implications. No official recognition means no health coverage, no research, and no funding. But it is estimated that approximately 20 million Americans are hypersexual. That's over 5 percent of the population. In each year over the past decade, the number of groups registered with Sex Addicts Anonymous has grown by 10 percent. The list of celebrity sex addicts reads like a night at the Oscars. Billy Bob Thornton and Michael Douglas are among the afflicted.

And as Nathaniel Penn writes in this month's issue of GQ Magazine, just 40 years ago, around the time my friend was born, the term sex addiction didn't even exist. In the past decade alone the number of so called sex-addiction therapists in America has doubled. Who or what to blame for the explosion of this latest vice? Hookup apps like Tinder and Grindr provide matches in the tens of millions per day, making the opportunity of finding a willing partner in your neighborhood a likely prospect; porn is more prevalent than ever; and the consumption of animal protein, a significant source of testosterone (the hormone linked to sex drive) is higher than it has been at any other time in history.

Penn interviews three sex addicts whose proclivities have led to misfortunes ranging from divorce to the loss of career, reputation, possessions, money. And the shame, the shame! In its disaster quotient, my friend's story outdoes them all.

How much sex is too much? It depends who you ask. The Catholic Church would say that any sex outside of the bounds of marriage is excessive, and that even within the confines of holy matrimony, if the purpose of sexual intercourse is not to make babies or to show love for your spouse, then you should best abstain. This would seem to exclude the occasional quickie, as well as all forms of masturbation. Yikes!

Personally I've never had a high sex drive. I'd masturbate once a day as an adolescent, occasionally even twice daily, but any more than that and I wasn't interested. Even if more came in the form of sex. I still remember the night I lost my virginity. My gal and I did it twice overnight, then the next morning while in the shower we tried for a hat trick but I couldn't orgasm. I wasn't even fully hard. And had I ejaculated, I'm sure I would have "shot blanks," in the parlance of the time. And this was when I was 17, sweet on my sweetheart, and at the height of male sexual potency!

Years later as technologies emerged I tried my hand, excuse the pun. It was in the late 90's when I discovered Yahoo Messenger. And if I met a gal (or a guy who said he was a gal, who even knows!) and she was into talkin' dirty to me, I was game.

Once a girl wanted to meet, but after she told me she was 16 I quickly logged off. I was in the latter half of my 20s and had a high suspicion that this "teenager" was a middle-aged FBI agent. Which interestingly is how one of the sex addicts interviewed by Penn got caught. He had to serve a year in federal prison. His wife left him. Such a dangerous game! I haven't even tried Tinder or Grindr, not just because I don't own a Smartphone. What if it was too much fun? This is the same reason I don't like to keep chocolate in the house. Or peanut butter.

But I will say that looking back on my sexual history, all the times I could be said to border on hypersexuality were the very times my consumption of animal protein was at its highest. During times of vegetarianism I'd masturbate when the urge seized, sure, and enjoyed sex with my significant other maybe a couple times a week, which is my happy medium. (Anything more and I get spent, which is another reason I've never seen fit to marry - oh the demands I couldn't fulfill!) But during eras when I've included beef and other forms of dead flesh in my diet I could go every day, sometimes several times. You may think all this humping and pumping is to be desired. But I think the purpose of human existence is to transcend our carnal desires rather than submit to them slavishly. With sex as with most things in life, moderation is where it's at. And elevated testosterone has its downside, including hair loss and prostate enlargement, so there's that. Now with all the running I do, my sex drive is practically at zero, though I do try to get my rocks off a couple times a week, since it's been proven to be good for one's health. Hurray for moder-ay-tion.

Interesting about Steve. He's eating less meat these days, and has sworn off street drugs. So maybe he's kicked his sex addiction for good. If there even is such a thing. But veganism may not cure every sex addict. His favorite musician is Prince, the sex shooter himself.

It was in Prince's Purple Rain that I saw my first sex scene. In the theater. With my mom. Pretty uncomfortable. I was eleven. That same summer I began touching myself. Not likely a coincidence. This topic brings with it so many great songs!

Which brings to mind the ultimate culprit in the rise of hypersexuality. It's the ubiquitousness of sexiness, is it not? I mean, it is everywhere we turn. The selfsame issue of GQ in which sex addiction is featured includes advice on how to make your woman orgasm and how to get her to go down on you. Oh, the irony! If you live with your senses directed outward there is no escaping depravity and vice. So turn within and tune in. This brings lasting satisfaction. For the rest, there's always YouPorn. Thanks again GQ!


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