In some ways the holidays can be a set-up for feeling bad. Our media-reinforced expectations of a warm, loving family-driven holiday season are often challenged by very real feelings of loneliness and disappointment. Those also saddled with a history of addiction or other emotional problems may find themselves longing for tangible ways to escape the emotional tension that this period brings.
This next two weeks, perhaps more than at any other time of year, not only puts more emotional pressure on all of us, but also provides the unstructured time, endless food, candy and drink and intense family interaction, which can challenge the most health conscious and well balanced among us, For those men and women who struggle with love, relationship and sex addictions, this is relapse season.
To some it may feel like our culture has been suddenly barraged with sexual addiction books, film, media and reality TV. Films like Shame, TV shows like Bad Sex, the recent extensive media coverage of sexually troubled politicians and sports figures, combined with a recent Newsweek/Daily Beast cover story on the topic, almost seem to be converging on this issue and pushing it in our faces overnight.
But as a clinician who has been treating sex addiction and training therapists for nearly 20 years, I can reliably report what any experienced marriage counselor or addiction specialist will also tell you – that there has seen a steady escalation of addictive sex and intimacy problems ever since the Internet first came publically available in the early to mid-90’s. With every technological turn of the screw (pardon the pun), those of us who treat compulsive and addictive sex and intimacy disorders have seen an increase in clients troubled by these very issues; to us it makes perfect sense.
Many military veterans suffer from PTSD related to experiences of sexual trauma. An even greater concern is the alarming amount of stigma surrounding the discussion and treatment of PTSD and addiction within the military community.
In recent decades, these addictions and coping mechanisms have become more sexualized, manifesting in many cases as porn addiction. By addressing this dynamic, we can help veterans who are dealing with addiction by demystifying the stigma surrounding their methods of coping, i.e. addiction.