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Addiction

ardus

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So I saw this show about sex addiction, and it made me think about addiction in broader terms. For the record, I've had an on again off again problem with alcohol addiction, and watching this show made me think about the broader concept of addiction and where it starts and where it leads. I see people seeking help from those who don't have the problem and I wonder if that hampers people who do seek help because the ones that are trying to help don't really understand the problem. Any thoughts?
Richard
 

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At least in terms of alcohol addiction isn't one of the key parts of AA is that you're mentored by someone who had gotten to the otherside of their addiction? Did you receive help from someone who hadn't faced addiction and felt that your recovery was hampered because of it? I can undertand where you are coming from and I think that is why there are support groups for so many different kinds of addiction. Conversely doctors treat patients for a lot of conditions they haven't dealt with personally and I don't really see how addition would be significantly different.
 

glex3

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As someone that has over sixteen years in recovery, I would like to say that it is more than just a problem that crops up one day. I believe that those of us with addiction issues are born with something within us that makes us crave alcohol/drugs/food/sex/whatever. We have a chemical imbalance that we self medicate with mood altering substances or our own endorphins.

There is no shame in admitting a problem and seeking help.
 

pursine

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There is a tendency these days to pathologize a wide range of behaviours as addictions--everything from sex to videogaming to the internet! However, there is a difference between something like alcohol and drug addiction where the need is physiologically driven and sex addiction where the compulsive behaviour is the result of poor impulse control. I guess if a person feels that their sexual behavour is getting out of hand and putting themselves and others at risk it is definitely good to talk it through with someone else in a non judgmental atmosphere. That person could be a psychotherapist of it could be a friend. However, I don't think it is helpful to call it an addiction because that label tends to rob the person of any rights or say over their own behaviour.
 

erratic

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I see people seeking help from those who don't have the problem and I wonder if that hampers people who do seek help because the ones that are trying to help don't really understand the problem. Any thoughts?

Yes. Many thoughts. But rather than assaulting everyone with an epic wall of text, I'll keep it brief.

I think the answer to your question comes down to the personal preferences of the person seeking help. For some people, they want to know that the person listening has a similar experience, that they can understand and empathize. Also, I think it helps reduce the sense of shame over having experienced addiction, and over talking about it.

Other people, however, say they don't want (or don't care about) that in their counsellor/therapist. No two people are going to ever have the same experience, and so having someone who's "been there before" might mean having that person use their own experience to fill in the blanks about your story, and not fully listen to what it is you have to say.

There is a tendency these days to pathologize a wide range of behaviours as addictions--everything from sex to videogaming to the internet! However, there is a difference between something like alcohol and drug addiction where the need is physiologically driven and sex addiction where the compulsive behaviour is the result of poor impulse control. I guess if a person feels that their sexual behavour is getting out of hand and putting themselves and others at risk it is definitely good to talk it through with someone else in a non judgmental atmosphere. That person could be a psychotherapist of it could be a friend. However, I don't think it is helpful to call it an addiction because that label tends to rob the person of any rights or say over their own behaviour.

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. You hit the nail on the head, pursine. Without developing a chemical tolerance or dependency, addiction per se is not the issue. Impulse control is the issue. That's where the term "sexual compulsivity" came from.

I'd think it were all semantics if it weren't for that last bit you wrote - that labelling sexual compulsivity "addiction" dis-empowers people to be able to deal with it.