Addiction Pandemic: Addicted to Love, or Sex and ADD, too?

Addiction to sex, alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, texting & hoarding is skyrocketing. What's Not?

Have you heard, now there’s even an “election addiction”?  Aren’t you glad we’re through with that one for right now?  

But, seriously, addiction to alcohol, drugs, food, sex, smoking, shopping, video games, gambling, hoarding, work, cutting, texting and social media just keeps accelerating.   It’s staggering, what in the world is happening to us?

Addictions are becoming one of our biggest health problems.  Count ADD, ADHD, autism, Ausberger’s and related disorders in the lineup.  If the Center for Disease Control’s conservative 57% increase in autism alone between 2002 and 2006 is even close, then at least half of all children born in the U.S. will be autistic by 2046!  In 2010-11, 1 in 115 children were diagnosed with autism. Now, it’s closer to 1 in 54.  That’s more than a pandemic!

As if that’s not bad enough.  Now a UCLA research study headed by Dr. Rory Reid reveals that 23 to 26% of male sex addicts met the criteria for adult ADHD, as well.  Even more interesting is the fact that more sex addicts feel that they have ADHD than are professionally diagnosed with the condition, according to Dr. Reid, citing a 2004 study in which 67% of sex addicts reported their own symptoms of ADHD!

Most people don’t think of autism as an addiction. But from a clinical perspective, it fits the same profile.  Researchers like Dr. Russell Blaylock refer to the “autism syndrome” to cover the whole spectrum of related cognitive disorders, including ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Ausberger’s and both classic and regressive autism, the fastest growing type.  Dr. Patrick Carnes has even talked about sex addiction as an “Attention Deficit Disorder.”

“There is something else going on,” the UCLA findings suggest, says psychologist/sex therapist, Dr. Linda Hatch, in her PsychCental blog.  But while she and her associates’ engage in chicken-or-the-egg debates over whether this something is “post-traumatic splitting”, “dissociation”, or low self esteem inducing the zoned out and compulsive behaviors, from a larger perspective all these accelerating addiction rates certainly can’t just be from childhood trauma or dysfunctional parenting.

It’s hard not to ask, “Are these researchers missing a link as simple as poor diet?”

Addictions occur when someone becomes physically or psychologically dependent on something, whether its substances or behaviors.  People can and do have compulsive behaviors with almost anything, whether its drugs, work or cutting.  The results are generally the same, even if the particular addiction is different.

How do addictions get set up?  Humans are so complex, trying to understand the reasons why people start and continue to abuse themselves with substances and/ or addictive behaviors is enormously difficult.  Almost all addictions can be traced back, seeded by some kind of trauma, shock or disruption in normal functioning. Whether it’s on the physical, mental, emotional or energetic levels, these usually manifest accompanied by feelings of pain, wounding, withdrawal of love.


We are creatures of physical, as well as psychological habits.   How those original wounds develop into full blown addictions is a complex, multi-faceted process as unique as the rainbow of compulsions and people who develop them.   Essentially, the addictive person tries to use a substance or some activity to fill the void, and/or block, dull or escape the pain.  But their repeated choices literally create new biochemical pathways that end up demanding more and more of the chemicals the behaviors produce, and ironically, more discomfort and pain when they are withdrawn. 

Normal psychological analysis, like most of medicine, takes a “one problem/ one solution” approach to diagnosing addiction.  But what about the increasing rates of multiple addictive health problems now showing up involving both substances and behaviors?  “We need a wider, more comprehensive approach to multiple addiction diagnosis and treatment,“ says Clinical Psychologist,  Dr. James Slobodzien    

“Many progressive behavioral medicine practitioners have come to realize that although a disorder may be primarily physical or psychological in nature, it’s always a disorder of the whole person - not just of the body or the mind,” Dr. Slobodzien adds. 

Read more in the second part of this article:  Addiction Pandemic:  7 Reasons We’re Becoming Addicted to Everything and what we can do about it.