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Legal Perspectives of "Sexual Addiction".

Found guilty of transferring obscene material to a minor, disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner's sentencing memorandum begins, "This crime arose from the sad confluence of untreated addiction and profit-seeking curiosity... whose judgment was clouded by disease."1 The court did not affirmatively address the existence of his "addiction" he labeled a disease.

We are likely to hear the term "addiction" on a daily basis. In its technical sense it refers to someone who, to their detriment, compulsively uses alcohol, nicotine, certain drugs, has an impulse control disorder such as gambling, kleptomania (compulsive stealing), pyromania (compulsive setting of fires), or exhibits other compulsive behaviors. There is considerable dispute in the professional health and mental communities as to whether "sexual addiction" is a bona fide addiction. An Internet search of the terms "sexual addiction" or "sex addiction" yields approximately a half million listings. However, sexual addiction is not listed in the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of

Mental Disorders as a clinical diagnosis. Nor is it referred to as an addiction in the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases.

Whether or not sexual addiction is an addiction from a clinical perspective is not the focus of this article. Rather, this article briefly looks at some legal perspectives regarding this issue.

There are relatively few state codified acknowledgments of sexual addiction:

* Wyoming2 includes sexual addiction in its education requirement for licensure of a "Licensed Addictions Therapist."

* Washington3 includes sexual addiction as a course that can count toward continuing education requirements for sex offender treatment providers.

* Utah4 lists sexual addiction as a specialty area of training for sex offender treatment providers.

* Indiana5 recognizes the National Council of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity as a legitimate continuing education sponsor.

* Missouri6 acknowledges sexual addiction as a primary presenting problem as diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

* Texas7 provides that a prostitution prevention program must... "(3) provide each participant with information, counseling, and services relating to sex addiction..."

Should states legally acknowledge the existence of sexual addiction?

Virginia attorney Thomas Soldan advises: "In the same way that states recognize the growing substance abuse crisis, states should recognize the evolving nature of sexual addiction. States address substance abuse by requiring evaluations, counseling, and treatment if certain criminal offenses are committed, and as a term of diversion or probationary programs. Likewise, states commonly require sex offender treatment when someone has committed a criminal offense directly tied to sexual deviancy. Common examples would include sexual violence offenses and possession of child pornography. If states were permitted to recognize sexual addiction and address it with an approach crafted from both the substance abuse treatment and education, and the sex offender recidivism prevention models, individuals in need of services and support would not be left in the dark."

Alternatively, Diane Redleaf, legal director of the National Center on Housing and Child Welfare says: "Given the American Psychiatric Association doesn't currently recognize this disorder (and may never do so), mandating any form of training that assumes the disorder's validity may contribute to a proliferation of misplaced training programs, agendas of so-called experts promoting junk science, and inappropriate spending on treatment programs that have no measurable benefit. Moreover, there can be unintended consequences for the alleged sufferers of this disorder that have not yet been fully considered, such as having sentences for sexual offenders increased if they do not participate in counseling for this addiction and having child protective services start to label more parents at fault if they have forms of sexual conduct whose only 'victim' is the parent herself."

So, is sexual addiction an addiction? It seems the jury is still out.

Reference Notes

(1.) See

(2.) WCWR 078-0001-8 (2017).

(3.) WAC [section] 246-930-410 (2017).

(4.) U.A.C. R251-109-3 (2017).

(5.) 839 IAC 1-6-2 (2017).

(6.) 13 CSR 35-60.070 (2017).

(7.) Tex. Gov't Code [section] 126.004 (2017).

By Daniel Pollack

Daniel Pollack is a professor atYeshiva University's School of Social Work in NewYork City. He can be reached at; (212) 960-0836.
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Title Annotation:legal notes
Author:Pollack, Daniel
Publication:Policy & Practice
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2018
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