Sex Addiction In Germany

Germany is a densely populated central European country about the size of Montana. Its prevalence of the different forms of dependencies resemble the similar addictive structure of all modern western industrial societies. Of its 80 million people there are approximately 16.7 million (35%) addicted smokers, 2.4 million (5%) alcoholics and 1.8 million (less than 4%) addicted to legal or illegal drugs (percentages enclosing only the 18-59 year olds). In the non-substance abuse category, 100,000 addicted gamblers have been estimated. Sex Addiction Los Angeles

Like in the United States, there are many different kinds of treatment facilities for this population group. Although other treatment modalities are mostly preferred, Germany is probably the European country with the most 12 step groups outside the US. There are about 15 different 12 step groups in existence, among them Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, Incest Survivors Anonymous to name a few.

Knowing the data on the substance dependencies might make it easier to relate to the numbers on sex addiction. There had been an estimation of about 500,000 sex addicts in Germany which corresponds to the 0.6% to the total population. Probably the numbers are higher. Among the self-help groups, Sexaholics Anonymous, S-Anon and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous are spread to about 40 cities throughout Germany. They founded in Germany around 1984 and have about 1000 members. Sex Addicts Anonymous is also active with a couple of groups.

The acceptance of the diagnosis of sex addiction among professionals is not very high, even though the addictiveness of some progressive forms of paraphilias have long been recognized. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, some psychiatrists published on the addictive nature of nonparaphilic sexual behavior such as a Don Juanism or nymphomania. The psychiatrist Hans Giese (1962), one of the founders of modern scientific research on sexuality in Germany, stated that all addictive sexual behavior, regardless of sexual practice or orientation, should be classified as a form of perversion—what we would call a paraphilia today.

The official diagnostic classification system used in Germany is the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10) of the World Health Organization. Use of the DSM IV is spread mainly throughout the scientific community. To classify different types of sex addiction in the ICD 10, there are, of course, categories for the diverse kinds of paraphilias and also a rather vague category “Hypersexuality”. These may be used in everyday clinical routine. Sometimes sex addiction may be classified as an “impulse disorder not otherwise classified.” But most often the diagnosis is simply omitted, especially when there are other diagnosis available such as depression.

Germany still has a functioning social system in which health care is available for everybody. Any person with a valid ICD 10 diagnosis gets the psychiatric and psychotherapeutic care available. So there is no problem to get insurance coverage for a disorder like sex addiction. But on the other hand, there is very little knowledge about sex addiction among professionals working in the therapeutic field. Sometimes, it is even denied. An influential senior professor for sexology wrote in a scientific paper that sex addiction is only an invention of the media. Among addictionologists, excessive sexual behavior is being sidelined sort of hoping it will normalize as the drinking or drug use normalizes.

A sexual history is seldom taken in-depth in these institutions. There is not one hospital or department which has a specialized treatment program for sex addicts. There are, however, some specialized clinics in which multi-addicted clients are treated. In these hospitals, 12 Step groups like SLAA or SA are available and supported. But the self-help groups or better “mutual aid groups” (Kurtz/Ketcham) do most of the work on sex addiction there. The treatment facilities are not yet offering a specialized treatment program including things like a celibacy contract, relapse prevention training or education on healthy sexuality. But lately, some clinics have started to get interested in therapeutic possibilities. In private practice, the situation is similar. A qualified therapy is offered maybe by a handful of professionals throughout the country.

Hopefully, there seems to be some greater interest in the topic and a change of attitude during the last years. The media has taken more interest and there has been some serious coverage in newspapers, radio and television. A medical department of a German university in Berlin has specialized in the research of the biology and behavior of addictions. They work on alcohol and drugs but also on “impulse disorders” like gambling or compulsive spending. Currently, they also have an ongoing scientific study on sex addiction. Also sex therapists, who are more and more confronted by thisaddiction—sometimes through clients who have already diagnosed themselves as sex addicts—have begun to address it seriously. As yet another source, Christian therapists have taken an interest in the subject. German professionals who have been engaged in this topic have also been supported from the United States. We have had seminars done by an American member of a 12 step group or by a well-known author on sex addiction.

There are positive developments in the field. There is access to a better understanding of the sex addiction problem in Germany but they are still far away from the end of neglecting or minimalizing of the problem. In the interest of our clients, it can only be hoped that continuous effort and input from all the different professional groups involved will fuse into the use of qualified and refined treatment programs.

Dr. Kornelius Roth, MD lives in Bad Herrenalb, Germany and is a board-certified psychotherapist who specializes in multi-addiction work using the 12-step approach and trauma treatment modalities. He attended medical school at the University of Heidelberg. He is also member of SASH.


The Center for Healthy Sex (CHS) treats a broad spectrum of sexual disorders including; sex addiction, low sexual desire and sexual dysfunction. The experienced, highly skilled clinical staff of CHS offers intensive individual and group psychotherapy.

For more information visit or call 310.335.0997
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