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Jada Pinkett Smith says she was a seχ addict — but what does that even mean?

Elise Solé
Jada Pinkett Smith, pictured with Will Smith, says she once battled seχ addiction. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

Jada Pinkett Smith revealed that she once battled a seχ addiction, believing “everything could be fixed by seχ.”

The mother-of-two confessed on a new episode of Red Table Talk, the viral Facebook Watch series she hosts with her mother Adrienne Banfield-Jones, 64, and her daughter Willow Smith, 17, whom she shares with Will Smith. Pinkett Smith’s sister-in-law Ashley Marie and R&B star August Alsina, 25, joined as guest hosts, admitting their respective addictions to marijuana and Percoset painkillers. Banfield-Jones also revealed her longtime heroin dependency, now sober for 27 years. 

In response to a fan question about whether she’s ever experienced addiction, Pinkett Smith, 42, answered, “My sort of addictions jump. They jump around. When I was younger, I definitely think I had a seχ addiction of some kind, yes, that everything could be fixed by seχ. You know what I’m saying? Then I became a gym addict; I was just in the gym constantly.”

“I remember reaching a rock bottom that time I was in the house by myself, and I had those two bottles of wine and was going for the third bottle,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Now hold up. You’re in this house by yourself going onto your third bottle of wine? You might have a problem.’”

Pinkett Smith’s disclosure aligns with news that the World Health Organization has acknowledged seχ addiction as a legitimate disorder. “Compulsive seχual behavior is now classified as an impulse control disorder but there’s emerging evidence that it’s a behavioral addiction,” Stefanie Carnes, PhD., president of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. About three to six percent of Americans battle seχ addiction. 

“Research shows that people who suffer from seχ addiction experience the same release of dopamine [a pleasurable neurotransmitter] as those with gambling and gaming addictions,” says Carnes. “However, the topic has been politicized because seχ is controversial and there’s been hesitation to pathologize it because the definition of healthy seχ varies.”

To be diagnosed with seχ addiction, a person must engage in behaviors considered out of control or unreasonable, or that carry adverse health, financial, or emotional consequences. “For example, I had a client who spent $300K from his child’s college fund on prostitutes,” says Carnes. “Other clients have spent up to eight hours per day watching porn. These addictions destroyed lives.”

seχ addiction is challenging to treat because patients aren’t advised to quit having seχ — they’re taught to develop healthy relationships with intimacy and how to identify weaknesses. Someone addicted to prostitutes may be content with fantasies or role-playing; for others, those actions could be triggering.

Men are more associated with seχ addiction —  Tiger Woods, Russell Brand — however, more women are being diagnosed. In fact, The Meadows, a treatment center in Wickenburg, Arizona where Carnes serves as a senior fellow, recently opened its first women’s program. And Canadian researchers are currently examining whether there is a genetic predisposition to seχ addiction. 

Pinkett Smith says she healed on her own. “So I went cold turkey. That’s the thing about me: I can go cold turkey. I am a binger, and I always have to watch myself, and I can just get obsessed with things,” she said. “It’s not what you’re doing but how you’re with it. Why you’re doing it. It’s the behavior that’s attached to it because if you want to have a lot of seχ, that’s great, but why are you having all that seχ? That’s what you’ve got to look at.”

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