A terrific new book on cybersex addiction, Always Turned On: Sex Addiction in the Digital Age, written by noted sex addiction experts Rob Weiss and Jennifer Schneider, is now out. This is the third book on cybersex addiction penned by Weiss and Schneider. Their first, Cybersex Exposed, was written in the mid-1990s — the infancy of Internet-driven sexual addiction. By 2006, technology had advanced to the point where that book was outdated. In response, the authors delivered their second book, Untangling the Web. Nine years later, technology has again advanced to the point where a new book is needed, and Weiss and Schneider have filled the void once more.
Technologically speaking, much has changed in the last nine years. In 2006, high-speed Internet was a luxury, smartphones didn’t exist and social media was in its nascent stages. Furthermore, sexting had not been invented, online porn was expensive, video chat and Webcam sex were novelties and GPS-enabled hookup apps were the stuff of science fiction. Today these technologies are staples of sexual and romantic interaction, available 24/7/365. Plus, these technologies can be accessed anywhere, anytime, because smartphones, laptops, tablets and the like are all eminently portable. Additionally, the vast majority of today’s sexual content and interaction is either free or extremely low-cost. As such, the barriers to sexual content and potential sexual partners that existed nine years ago are virtually nonexistent today.
Exacerbating matters for sex addicts is the now unlimited variety of cybersexual content. (As pretty much every cybersex addict knows, sexual variety is the hook.) Thus, technologies, like “tube sites” (which supply an endless array of graphic pornography), video chat sites (which supply an entire world of potential Web-sex partners) and geo-locating hookup apps (offering a ready supply of nearby potential sex partners) are the sex addiction equivalent of crack cocaine. That is why this new book from Weiss and Schneider is so important. It is the only existing work that comprehensively addresses sexual addiction in today’s increasingly digital world.
Of course, as Weiss and Schneider aptly point out, “The basics of sexual addiction remain the same with or without the involvement of technology. Sex addicts have always engaged in their problematic behaviors of choice compulsively and to their detriment. And they do so despite clearly related negative life consequences.” The fact that digital technology so thoroughly facilitates this behavior is simply a byproduct of the modern age. In terms of the addiction itself, all that has really changed is the manner and speed with which sex addicts locate and access addictive sexual content and activity.
Nevertheless, it is clear that sexual addiction today is not the same as sexual addiction a mere 10 years ago. It hits quicker, harder and in different venues. Plus, the demographic has changed significantly, with many more women and adolescents now hooked on cybersexual intensity. As such, the effects of sexual addiction and the ways in which healing takes place are also changing. For instance, the authors tell us that porn-induced sexual dysfunction (erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, inability to reach orgasm) is an ever more common side effect of sexual addiction, especially among younger males. And sex addicts of both genders are increasingly losing interest in real-world partnerships, preferring instead the safety and reliability of cybersex.
Happily, Weiss and Schneider also address the ways in which the healing process has evolved in response to technology. For instance, once upon a time cybersex addicts could simply stay offline, or they at least could agree to only use digital technology when another person – someone supportive of their recovery – could see what they were doing. Nowadays this just isn’t possible. The Internet and other forms of digital interaction are ubiquitous, used for shopping, traveling, socializing and communicating with friends and family (especially kids). In other words, digital technology is integral to life and not so easily discarded. This and other recovery-related topics are addressed in depth throughout the book.
Overall, Always Turned On is a well-written and comprehensive overview of modern-day cybersex addiction. Throughout the text, the informational material is brought to life by real-world stories of addiction, consequences and recovery. This makes the book easier to read and understand, and easier for sexually addicted readers to identify with. Although this work is primarily written for cybersex addicts and the people who treat them, others will also find it enlightening. In fact, there’s a chapter specifically written for spouses and partners of cybersex addicts, as well as material for parents who are concerned about the online sexual behavior of their children.
Always Turned On is highly recommended for all cybersex addicts, for clinicians who treat them and for anyone who is worried about or dealing with the problematic behaviors of a cybersex addict. Remember, no matter how complicated and advanced tech-driven sexual addiction becomes, lasting recovery and a better life are possible. And Weiss and Schneider’s new book provides the modern-day roadmap for this process.
Always Turned On is available on Kindle and other e-book formats; print copies of the book will be available from February 10, 2015.