Sex addiction only seems to come up in the public dialogue when sexual scandals involving celebrities and other high profile people erupt in the news. The person involved has not only hurt those in their circle, but has violated public trust.
Reporting runs from informing the public of wrongdoing to feeding the gossip machine. Often several waves of this lead to the person implicated acknowledging they have a problem with sex addiction and are seeking treatment.
Some hearing this news will be very angry and say that the person is claiming sex addiction to justify their appetites and excesses, evading harm done.
Others will say the guy ‘was just being a guy’ or the person was ‘just being human,’ and got caught doing things many people do.
Some will doubt the sincerity of the person under scrutiny, believing he or she has simply found a way to steer the conversation away from outrage toward compassion.
Those who understand addiction will have noted the signs of sex addiction long before the celebrity held up that flag. Whether a PR statement is sincere or insincere, sex addiction is real and the addict is suffering.
There is understanding about how mood altering substances can pull someone into an addictive cycle. Processes that blunt reality have just as much potential to be addictive. While the addict may want to believe theirs is a heightened reality, those closest to them will often have noticed the sex addict’s absence in meaningful life. In moments of clarity the addict feels this emptiness too.
The intense pleasure of the sex act, a perpetual hunt for partners, fantasies playing out in their minds when their attention is needed elsewhere can all remove reality in sex addiction. Tasks of life are neglected. A nurturing sexual bond with an appropriate partner is missed. What likely began as an escape from pain or trauma has become compulsion. The addiction is in control.
Those who gain recovery from sex addiction look back and see how many truly satisfying life experiences were missed and left by the wayside as the addiction seized more and more of their time and resources. It can be an invitation to healing when the addiction becomes bigger than the person’s capacity to manage, whether a public scandal or a private breakdown. There is a way to a life of hope and presence for those recovering from sex addiction.
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