December 13, 2010

If you’ve been keeping up with the news one might have picked up a new tactic for not having to deal with consequences. If you ever get caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing, well hey, just say it’s an addiction. There’s nothing that draws a crowd to sympathy and “understanding” like putting the word addiction behind it. Ever since Tiger Woods multiple affairs with women broke loose, a row of new participants have entered the circus claiming to have a “sex addiction.”

 In an article featured in the L.A Times headlined ‘Sex Addiction Rehab a Thriving Industry,’ Alexandra Katehakis, a marriage and family therapist, said in 1997 she  only had a handful of colleagues dealing with sex addiction. She now competes with hundreds of other therapist and has grown her single practice into the ‘Center for Healthy Sex’, where she works with teams of counselors, an assortment of therapy groups, an expansive website and training for other therapists.  According to Katehakis, without celebrities her practice would be non-existent,“Celebrities have been the greatest evangelist for treatment.” 

WebMD  defines sexual addiction as “behavior of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. Sex and the thought of sex tend to dominate the sex addict’s thinking, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships.”

So basically the definition of sex addiction is someone who really enjoys sex… a lot. I’m sorry, what?! This is medical condition? I’d say what a pathetic excuse to indulge in a habit or enjoyable void filler.  But you have to give it to the Billy Flyns of the world who have razzle dazzeled  us, the audience, to believieving that there’s a loop hole to infidelity, the “uncontrollable “ desire to have sex with incredibly attractive people. Could you think of a more fun addiction?

Our society is becoming one whose beliefs are not built upon common sense and ethical and moral reasoning but is founded upon stories spun by the Billy Flynn’s of the world bent on making sure we make our decision with sequence in our eyes. A rusty mirage of decaying truths decorated with flash, hammered in by people with certificates and echoed by those with the loudest voices. We are living in times where truth and class is based upon trend and at the present moment  right and wrong, is just like, so not in. We (society) like to tread the gray area and keep honesty, morality and ethics as gray as possible. It allows us to live as inconsequentially as possible.

Boston-area psychiatrist and leader in the research of compulsive sexual behavior, Dr. Martin Kafka, says the disagreement in the scientific community in regards to the validity of sexual addiction being at the same level as alcohol and drug addiction is due to the lack of data that does not demonstrate the two main characteristics of substance addiction; an addicts built up tolerance over time and the withdrawals if deprived of that substance.

If I were a kid all over again, I think I could have used this for my “obsessive” compulsive need for sweets, cookies in particular. When asked why I finished all the cookies without consideration for the rest of my siblings, I should have simply said, “Mom, I’m a cookie addict.” Now mind you that would not have worked back then, but I do believe that in today’s world, it is most definitely worth the try.

According to a group that certifies sex therapists, the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals,  sex addiction is defined as “any sexually related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and one’s work environment.”

If you read the definition of sex addiction you can apply the concept to any bad habit that does not fit under the umbrella inclusive of the two main characteristics of substance addiction. Sex addiction is not the same as alcohol or drug addiction. But leave it to the IITAP to eventually pass it as an equal, not because it is but because, one, it is an economical benefit to have it as an addiction to the entire field, and two, there will be enough cases of people who have over indulged in more than appeasing their sexual appetite who will conveniently be self-diagnosed sex addicts.

Here’s the thing, I do empathize with someone who has fallen so down the rabbit hole of their issues that the only way they think  they can feel “alive” is by inundated themselves with any act that  creates a temporary false sense of euphoria and essentially disrupts their equilibrium and that of those around them. The fact is when we find ourselves lost in our lives some people find the strength to be honest with themselves about seeking help before it becomes a manic like habit, while others selfishly indulge in a fictitious world all whilst ignoring the impact they are having on those around them.

No one is saying it is easy to face your issues. The road towards being healthy and happy is not always easy, but life is not about doing what’s easy, it’s about doing what’s right.  It comes down to taking responsibility for the weight of your choices and actions, and being brave and bold enough to stop it and get help before it becomes an epidemic onto your life.

It is important to be comfortable with ones sexuality and there is nothing wrong with embracing it but to use it as a means of defining oneself or as a void filler inverse of soul searching is when it becomes dangerous.    To call someone a “sex addict” implies a loss of control on a physical sexual level when in fact it may just be a representation of someone who has lost control in their life and have found a very primal immediate way of directing that energy towards sex.

 Everyone has sexual impulses and it’s important that while embracing them if you know your impulses or drive tends to infiltrate your life, than managing and filtering them into a productive and healthy outlet may be necessary.

 My final say to the Billy Flynn’s of the world is a lack of self-control does not make an addict. Instead of razzel dazzling people with re-defining and re-working the concept of addiction, let’s put a mirror to people and allow people to face themselves and develop the means to deal with consequences through self-accountability.

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