For most of us, the holidays are a time of stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and a whole bunch of other uncomfortable feelings. Sure, even the most curmudgeonly among us is bound to experience the occasional, fleeting flash of peace, joy, love, and good will toward man. In these ephemeral moments we’ll pick up a few toys and drop them off at a donation center, write a check to our favorite charity, and send our mother a card – hoping she’ll assume we’ve sent everyone a card and will therefore stop bugging us about the “need” to remember friends and loved ones at the holidays, even if they’re no longer friendly or loved.
Last week we learned that the proposed diagnosis of Hypersexual Disorder, more commonly known as sexual addiction, would not be included as a criteria-based diagnosis in the forthcoming DSM-5. As I have written previously, I did not expect Hypersexual Disorder to “make it” into the DSM-5 as a standalone diagnosis. I did, however, expect it to be listed in the Appendix of next spring’s publication as a potential diagnosis requiring further research. Lamentably, the APA apparently lacks the political will to even consider the idea that consensual sexual behavior, for some people, can be problematic. Frankly, the organization’s decision has left me (and a whole lot of other highly trained, eminently reasonable, forward-thinking mental health and addiction professionals) feeling frustrated, disappointed, and downright angry.
Time Off + Gifts + Shopping + Expectations + Family = The Need for Solid Recovery
For men and women who suffer from sex and/or love addiction, the holidays present the following dangerous combination:
In essence, heightened emotions related to difficult family dynamics and numerous other factors make the season a more stressful than usual period, and this can feed into the chronic, progressive disease of addiction. Active addicts often experience escalation in this timeframe. Even addicts firmly grounded in recovery can revert to old patterns, especially if they stop attending their 12-step support groups, reaching out to supportive friends and family, and actively working their program of recovery.