Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Time Magazine: The truth about sex addiction

Time Magazine has a detailed article on the current thinking about sex addiction and the sexual recovery industry. The article examines the legitimacy of sex addiction as a psychiatric category and looks at the various treatment options now available to address compulsive sexual behavior.

The article features a longtime sex addict who has been involved in one of the oldest 12 step programs available to men and women with sexually compulsive behavior: SAA/sex addicts anonymous.The trials and tribulations "Neil," the focus of the article, accurately represents individuals who cannot come to terms with the sacrifices and work required to reach sobriety. With this said, Neil represents a subgroup of men with sexually compulsive behavior who do not achieve meaningful sobriety even with nearly 2 1/2 decades of contact with Sex Addicts Anonymous.

The problem with Neil's story is that it makes for great reading but fails to spell out the way that sexual sobriety occurs. There are countless stories within various twelve-step programs devoted to sexually compulsive behavior that involve meaningful and lasting changes in sexual behavior and the capacity for human intimacy.

It is therefore unfortunate that Neil is the focus of this very important piece in a national magazine. The topic of sex addiction and recovery options is a crucial issue for thousands of men and women. It would have provided a more balanced and realistic picture of the recovery process had the magazine chosen to tell a less interesting but more accurate story of recovery from sexually compulsive behavior.

Whether or not sex addiction or hypersexual behavior is a legitimate category within the psychiatric nomenclature is a debate reasonable people can discuss. What is clear and lacking in controversy is the simple fact that  men and women from all walks of life, from San Diego to the tip of Maine, struggle with sexually compulsive behavior and need the support of trained mental health professionals, residential treatment centers, and 12 step programs in order to gain control over their lives and establish meaningful and lasting relationships.


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