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SLA is the same as any other addiction, according to those who offer therapy for it.

It is - much like alcoholism - characterised by compulsive behaviour, repeated in spite of negative consequences.

Let's start by looking at the feeling of falling in love: the intense rush, the loosening of boundaries, the sensual stimulation, the wilful submission.

It almost sounds like nothing a decent bottle of whisky wouldn't do.

I don't know the name of the contact I ultimately interviewed, I reached him through nameless channels, and he does not claim in any way to represent the organisation (in fact he doesn't even approve of me calling it a organisation, "It is simply," he explains, "a place for working the 12 steps").

But are supposed addictions to sex and love simply an attempt to "diagnose" what were previously natural human nuances?

The addict is "dependent" on a partner for validation, a pattern which may hold sufferers in abusive relationships, or lead them to coerce or bully their partner into satisfying their needs.

In place of intimacy you'll often find obsessive behaviours and risk taking, fear, confusion, paranoia of abandonment, and abandonment of self-interest.

The fastest growing 12-step programmes in the world involve sexual addiction, including: Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, and – something that caught my eye - Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.

According to America's National Council on Sexual Addiction Compulsivity, around eight per cent of all Americans can be classified as addicted to sex: that's 18-24 million people.

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