Lately, I have experienced a few uncomfortable conversations with some of my nonaddicted friends questioning the strength and tenacity of recovering addicts. I imagine the concepts and struggles of behavioral and substance addictions seem quite confusing to those who have never fought these horrific demons firsthand. I grew up in a home with addiction, so prior to experiencing this for myself, I also had a lot of questions and confusion around the topic of addiction. However, now I can truthfully say with confidence that recovering addicts are likely some of the strongest and most capable people you will ever meet in your life.
Stigma - Debunking Addiction
In my experience, there is a monumental difference between healthy, relational sex and addictive, compulsive sexual behavior. As a recovering sex addict, I have witnessed firsthand the detrimental impacts of using sex as a means to cope with or numb your emotions. Some might believe that habits such as this are harmless and merely a rite-of-passage for most young adults, but I am here to tell you that unhealthy sexual behaviors do not have to be your normal way of life. You can willfully choose a different path and intentionally decide to utilize sex in a healthy way.
As someone who has not only personally experienced addiction recovery but has also worked as an addiction professional, I know all about the idolization of the sacred sobriety date. However, if you've followed this blog for long, you've probably noticed that I've never given my exact sobriety date or the precise weeks, months, or days I've been free from my addiction. This is because I really don't honor the sacred sobriety date like so many others do in addiction recovery. I have no ill will towards those who do participate in this ritual, but I've learned over time that it just isn't my thing.
In addition to eventually developing my own addictions, I also grew up in a home with an addicted parent. I rarely spoke about my mom's addiction history when I was young because of the shame that frequently followed those conversations. As I grew older and developed a few less than desirable habits of my own, I thankfully found some compassion for my mom and the struggles that surrounded her.
In recent years a bold movement has come out against the porn industry; this might sound like a win for recovering porn addicts like myself, but that isn't always the case.
Pursuing and surviving sobriety is no easy feat, and for women in addiction recovery, the challenge can feel even more strenuous. Addiction of any kind can touch the lives of just about everyone no matter our racial, ethnic, or religious background; however, the fight to stay sober might look different for different individuals pursuing recovery.
An addiction to food is likely one of the most acceptable forms of addiction in our society, but does food addiction always imply the diagnosis of an eating disorder? Honestly, it depends on who you ask. In my experience, my dependencies and addiction with food inevitably morphed into an eating disorder, but that doesn't mean everyone with an eating disorder is a food addict.
I want to talk about porn addiction vs. porn consumption. In my experience, porn addiction is a highly complex and massively misunderstood behavioral addiction that can affect even the most unsuspecting individuals. Some might say that looking at pornography even one time will make you an addict, while others insinuate that watching porn is perfectly normal and socially acceptable. So which one is it? If you ask me, both of these answers contain some aspect of truth. Porn addiction can easily start after just one encounter, however, for a lot of people, porn consumption (maybe even porn addiction) is completely normal depending on your gender, social circle, religion, and more.
Conversations about your sex addiction are almost always a daunting task, but the conversations take on even higher stakes when you're confessing your secret sins to your family members. Some sex addicts keep their taboo desires and habits hidden from their loved ones for years or even decades; while others, like myself, choose to go all in and tell their family only a few months into the madness of active addiction. The conversations about sex addiction are never easy, but in my opinion, they can be extremely helpful in creating a healthy, transparent space with the people you love most.
Behavioral addiction and substance addiction have similarities and differences. I've learned over time that most people only associate addiction with substance abuse or chemical dependency, often leaving those suffering from behavioral addictions completely alone and underserved in their recovery process. In my recovery journey, I have had to overcome a lot on my own and even to this day, I have been told by many that my addictions either aren't real or aren't important simply because they don't involve illegal or harmful substances. Behavioral addictions are just as valid and often just as devastating as substance addictions, although sometimes the recovery process for each one can differ greatly.