Monday, December 21, 2009

Arguing Over Addiction

I recently spoke with a reporter for The Daily Beast about sex addiction. Since the number of Tiger Woods' conquests seems to grow daily, many are speculating about whether he's a sex addict...or just a scumbag player.
The comments are scathing, with most falling on the "scumbag" side of the debate. And, frankly, I can understand why some dismiss the possibility of sex addiction.
For one thing, sex addiction has only recently become the celebrity curse-du-jour, with David Duchovny's admission and Dr. Drew creating a show around it. And sure, it can seem like a convenient excuse. "Gee, I would have liked to have said 'no' to the porn star, but I couldn't help myself because I'm a sex addict."
At least that's what those who dismiss sex addiction as a fad, or an excuse might suspect.
But the reality is hardly convenient. Or an excuse.
What a sex addict does is no less embarrassing to them if they admit to sex addiction. If anything, it's worse. Imagine the humiliation of going through a 12-step program for sex addiction (some of which don't allow all. Ever.). Imagine having to take a personal inventory of those you've hurt and make reparations. Think of how excruciating it must be to recount every encounter to your spouse (and yourself!) when you've spent most of your time convincing yourself that what you're doing isn't really hurting anyone.
Whether or not Tiger Woods is a sex addict, whether or not sex addiction makes it into the DSM-IV is of no consequence to those who use sex (or porn) in an unhealthy way. And most of the comments around sex addiction reveal not only a lack of compassion but a lack of understanding about addiction in general and sex addiction in particular.
Adultery sucks. Doesn't matter much why our spouses cheated on the end we expect them to take responsibility for what they did. And sex addiction offers up nothing to hide behind, but rather a label that they will carry with them forward.

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