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This much is certain: More and more people are seeking treatment. In each year over the past decade, the number of groups registered with Sex Addicts Anonymous, one of the nation’s largest twelve-step organizations for sex addiction, has grown by 10 percent.

Hollywood is just the latest market to capitalize on this phenomenon, even if filmmakers’ depictions tend to do more harm than good.

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No drugs exist to treat sex addiction; no health care plan specifically covers it; there’s virtually no funding for studies.

Eli Coleman, a psychologist and director of the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota, estimates that approximately 19 million Americans—5 to 7 percent of the population—are hypersexual. "We’re all blind in this field," says UCLA neuroscientist Nicole Prause.

Most addictions require you to extend yourself in some way—go to a particular place, spend a certain amount of money. The fuel for your disease is all around you, invading your senses. But when I ask him if he’s tired, he says no, just the opposite: "I sleep In a wedding photograph on the wall, Jacob holds hands with his wife, Ashley, on a country lane.

The poet and professor Michael Ryan captures this experience in his unsettling, mesmerizing autobiography, JACOB* IS A COMPUTER PROGRAMMER, and on the morning he greets me at the door of his and his wife’s Seattle-area apartment, he looks as though he’s been up all night wrestling with code. He smiles hesitantly, his eyes skittering off to one side.

Worse, you can get a potential high from every person you meet.