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The survey found that as many as a third of Internet users visited some type of sexual site.Projected to the country as a whole, this would mean that a minimum of 200,000 men and women have become cybersex addicts in the last few years, Dr. And, he added, because the respondents were self-selected and because denial of the symptoms of sexual compulsivity is commonplace, there are likely to be many more cybersex addicts than the survey indicated.'' This is a hidden public health hazard exploding, in part, because very few are recognizing it as such or taking it seriously,'' Dr. Young of the Center for Online Addiction in Bradford, Pa., wrote that ''partially as a result of the general population and health care professionals not being attuned to the risks, seemingly harmless cyberromps can result in serious difficulties way beyond what was expected or intended.'' According to Dr.As the name suggests, the Regional Chat Rooms subcategory includes a myriad of topics separated by geographical, racial and age groups.Since these Air G chat rooms are aimed at smaller niche audiences, discussions are often more focused than those in the Featured Rooms section.Researchers writing in the current issue of the journal Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity report that many of the men and women who now spend dozens of hours each week seeking sexual stimulation from their computers deny that they have a problem and refuse to seek help until their marriages, their jobs, or both, are in jeopardy.For some people, the route to compulsive use of the Internet for sexual satisfaction is fast and short, said Dr.Schneider responded with a definition of addiction that would clearly apply to cybersex abusers: '' Loss of control, continuation of the behavior despite significant adverse consequences and preoccupation or obsession with obtaining the drug or pursuing the behavior.'' Although behavioral addictions involve no external drugs, preliminary research has suggested that they cause changes in brain chemicals, like the release of endorphins, that help to perpetuate the behavior.The sexual stimulation and release obtained through cybersex also contribute importantly to the continued pursuit of the activity, Dr. He wrote: '' Intense orgasms from the minimal investment of a few keystrokes are powerfully reinforcing.'' He added, '' Cybersex affords easy, inexpensive access to a myriad of ritualized encounters with idealized partners.
Women, who tend to pursue relationships, are inclined to visit sexually oriented chat rooms rather than the pornographic Web sites that men prefer, Dr. As women become increasingly hooked on online sex, they are more likely to progress to off-line meetings, which can prove dangerous.
Sex is the hottest topic among adult users of the Internet, with studies showing that fully a third of all visits directed to sexually oriented Web sites, chat rooms and news groups.
For most people these forays into cybersex are relatively harmless pursuits, but experts in the field say that the affordability, accessibility and anonymity of the Internet are fueling a brand new psychological disorder -- cybersex addiction -- that appears to be spreading with astonishing rapidity and bringing turmoil to the lives of those affected.
As with other addictions, tolerance to cybersex stimulation can develop, prompting the addict to take more and more risks to recapture the initial high, Dr. Online viewing that began as a harmless recreation can become an all-consuming activity and even lead to real sexual encounters with people met online.
Cybersex compulsives can become so involved with their online activities that they ignore their partners and children and risk their jobs. Cooper's survey, 20 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women reported they had used computers at work for some sexual pursuits.
Communities develop within these rooms, yet are still open to new users.