In the continuing wake of the Anthony Weiner scandal, many voices are chiming in with their own takes on the matter of his sex addiction. Among them is a growing voice of doubt as to whether or not sex addiction even exists. This seems to happen every time some high profile person like Weiner goes into rehab for his issues, and I will continue to debate it every time someone tries to doubt it.
The Nature of Addiction
I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding when it comes to addiction. Yes, drugs and alcohol are highly addictive substances. They ruin lives and drive people to terrible depths in search of their next fix – but so does sex. To a certain extent, sex may be an even harder habit to break than some other addictions, because sex rewards you not with just a “high,” but with an orgasm.
Sexual activity culminates with a peak moment that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the human experience. It’s a wonderful part of natural life, but it’s also something that people can become confused about. It’s such an exciting and all-consuming experience that people can begin using it not for mutual enjoyment of intimacy with a partner, but to cope with real-world problems. This is when the trouble starts.
The issue with porn or sex addiction is one of accessibility. An addict might need to put themselves in highly dangerous situations to procure more drugs or alcohol, but for a sex addict, his penis is always right there. In a way, porn addicts and sex addicts are carrying around a crack pipe between their legs. It doesn’t require much work on their part to achieve what they’re after. They can literally feed their addiction anytime and anywhere – and believe me, they do.
If It’s Ruining Your Life, It’s Addiction
The people I talk to are involved with porn and sex to the point where they’re losing or risking parts of their lives that matter to them. Thousands of dollars can disappear down the drain, not just to porn subscriptions, but also to escorts, massage services, not to mention lost time at work. In fact, one of the most common issues I hear about from addicted men is their inability to make it through the workday without visiting the men’s room with their smartphones. If they get caught doing this, as many do, they lose their jobs.
Losing your livelihood due to anything, be it drugs, alcohol, or sex constitutes an addiction. If it causes your marriage to fall apart, it’s an addiction. If you lose custody of your children, get escorted out of your office by security, or have an unending string of failed relationships, it’s an addiction.
Compulsive behavior becomes prioritized above all things, and it legitimately hurts people. I don’t see how you can look at the ruination of someone’s life and say, “That wasn’t caused by addiction.” It was. These people have a real issue that needs to be addressed, not dismissed. They are crying out for help, and we have to answer them.
Sex Addiction is a Matter of Degree
Sex is a basic human need. But the difference between an addict and a non-addict is that the non-addict can easily go a long time without sex. A person between relationships, far away from their partner, or even getting over an illness might abstain for a long time without any issues at all. For an addict, that would be absolutely impossible.
Many of the men I treat can’t even go two hours without acting out sexually. That’s a huge difference in mindset and behavior from the average person.
This all stems back to the fact that a porn or sex addict doesn’t understand the difference between sex and intimacy. To them, sex is all about the orgasm; that peak experience. There’s no hand holding, no poetry written on scraps of notepaper, no walking and talking to a partner. Relationships are difficult, if not completely impossible for an addict, because they have a conditioned response. They look at porn so frequently they can’t have normal sex. It’s terribly detrimental to addicts and their partners.
For these reasons, I will challenge anyone on this topic. People who can look at what I’ve seen and still say these men are suffering from something imaginary, are either in denial or perhaps trying to hide their own addiction.
Being dismissive of an addict’s plight only serves to prolong their addiction. At Compulsion Solutions, we’re prepared to take you very seriously. If you know you need help, but were afraid nobody would listen to you, I urge you to reach out right away. You’re grappling with something very real, and there is help available right here and now.