The stigmas surrounding addiction have become a dominant part of our mainstream cultural dialogue but were generated from a place of fear and lack of understanding from people who aren’t addicts themselves. Without having experienced it firsthand, addiction can be a complicated and difficult thing to comprehend. Just as all addictions carry specific stigmas and stereotypes associated with them, sex addiction has come to be viewed a certain way that is unique to it. Since sex itself is still taboo in so many ways, and since sex is such a powerful force in our lives, there is a great deal of fear, trepidation, misunderstanding and misinformation when it comes to sex addiction.
A common misconception about sex addiction is that it is an excuse for promiscuity and reckless, dangerous sexuality. Addiction as a whole carries the weight of shame with it for many people, and with sex addiction, this can be even more true. Sex addicts can be drowning in shame for the compulsive acts they’re engaging in. We can feel as though we’re totally out of control, like our actions and our bodies are not within our control but being driven by a compulsive force. Many of us don’t want to be promiscuous. We want loving, healthy, monogamous relationships but feel as though we can’t stop ourselves from having casual sex, cheating or otherwise acting out. We feel ashamed of our sexual history, of the partners we’ve been with, of our choices and behaviors. We feel sadness, regret and remorse after our sexual encounters. Just as alcoholics are not using their addiction as an excuse for destructive behavior, sex addicts are not using their addiction as an excuse for promiscuity.
Another stigma surrounding sex addiction is that sex addicts are immoral, deviant people. This belief is based on the larger belief that sex is wrong, that having sex for pleasure is an immoral thing to do, and that our sexuality is a source of shame. Addiction can impact and taint every area of our lives, but it doesn’t rob of us of our inherent goodness. We can be suffering from addiction and still have compassion and kindness. Addicts are not necessarily bad people, and sex can be a beautiful thing when treated with the respect it deserves. Sex addiction is not a badge of immorality just as alcoholism isn’t. Understanding sex addiction and how it affects people’s lives involves looking at some of the stigmas that addicts have to live with on a constant basis.
If you’re living with sex addiction and struggling to feel understood, you’re not alone. Sex addiction is one of the most common co-occurring conditions we address in our treatment programs at Enlightened Solutions. Call (833) 801-LIVE today.