The Connection between PTSD in the Military and Sexual Addiction

PTSD in the Military and Sexual Addiction is written by: Vermilion Behavioral Health Systems clinical team member Erica Smith, MA, NCC. Erica has several years of experience working in the treatment field as a clinical therapist and has her Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling from the American School of Professional Psychology.

With programming designed to meet the needs of adolescents, adults, and military personnel, the staff at Vermilion strives to help our patients explore and process the unique challenges that they are facing so that they can develop a better insight and a greater understanding of their own personal struggles, ultimately resulting in the discovery of true healing.

helicopter-1000_640Sexual addiction occurs when individuals experience patterns of chronic sexual thoughts or fail to maintain control over compulsive sexual behavior. Additionally, sex addiction has been explained by some professionals in the field as being an outward manifestation of the inner pain that a person is experiencing.

Sex addiction works in the same manner that drug and alcohol addictions do in that a part of the brain reacts a certain way to the presence of certain stimuli, and when that stimulus is not there, the brain begins to crave it.

When individuals are engaging in sexual activity, their brains produce a surge of the chemical, dopamine, providing them with a sense of euphoria. It is understandable why this sense of euphoria is appealing in any given situation, but when people are consistently experiencing high levels of stress or emotional turmoil, they may begin to crave this euphoria as an attempt to find reprieve from their inner battles.

When Sex Becomes the Most Important Coping Activity

When sex becomes the only way in which a person is capable of coping with intense levels of stress, it is likely that an addiction has developed.

Military servicemen and women can spend a significant amount of time enduring highly stressful situations. Unless a person has experienced life in the military, it is impossible to fully understand what these brave men and women go through on a daily basis.

For those servicemen and women who are deployed and spend their days on the frontlines of war, the levels of stress, anxiety, and fear have to be monumental.

Being in a place that they are not familiar with, in a constant state of heightened alertness, all the while knowing that they are in physical danger can understandably lead to a desire to find some sense of relief, however fleeting it may be. For some, this relief may come in the form of sexual thoughts or acts.

Sexual Addiction Symptoms

Contrary to what many believe, sexual addiction is not limited to the act of engaging in sexual relationships with a partner; it can include things such as:

  • Having fantasies
  • Masturbating
  • Looking at pornography
  • Other sexual behaviors

When a sex addiction is present, things such as masturbation can trigger the same chemical rush in the brain that having sexual intercourse does, ultimately providing a person with the sense of euphoria and relief that their bodies crave (1).

While masturbating or having fantasies are not things that one should be ashamed of when these acts become so prominent in a person’s life that they become the only way in which a person knows how to cope with stress, anxiety, or fear, then a problem exists.

The Roles of PTSD in Military and Sexual Addiction

Sadly, countless men and women who serve in the military suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the things that they have seen and done while on active duty.

The symptoms of PTSD can be vast and will affect people differently, but some of the most common of such symptoms include:

  • Increased levels of anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Vivid flashbacks (sometimes to such an extreme that an individual feels as though he or she is re-experiencing the traumatic event)
  • Extreme depression
  • Nightmare
  • Drastic mood swings

The presence of these symptoms can be debilitating and cause significant disruption in a person’s life. For people who have learned that sex can provide a temporary reprieve from these devastating symptoms, they may begin to act out on their sexual impulses more frequently.

And, like a drug addiction, the more that a person uses this method as a means of coping, the more his or her body will crave it in order to numb the negative emotions that he or she is experiencing.

Help Is Available for Sexual Addiction

There is help for the Military and Sexual AddictionWhile an addiction to sex can quickly take over a person’s life, the good news is that there is help available. There are a number of treatment options available for PTSD sufferers who are struggling with sexual addiction.

The first step in receiving thorough treatment for these particular individuals is to address the underlying emotions and stressors that triggered the onset of the addiction in the first place. Due to the severe nature of many cases of PTSD, inpatient treatment programs can be one of the best places to begin the recovery process.

Treatment Programs

While in this type of program, people are not only able to partake in a wide variety of therapeutic interventions to help alleviate and eventually overcome their symptoms of PTSD, but they can also confront and deal with their addiction to sex.

Some of the therapy options that are available in inpatient treatment can include individual therapy, where people have the opportunity to explore their concerns in a confidential, one-on-one setting with a therapist, group therapy, where people can find support from other individuals who are facing similar challenges, and family therapy, where people are afforded the chance to begin mending relationships that may have been disturbed by the sufferer’s illness.

By receiving proper, thorough treatment, individuals can fight the battle against sex addiction, overcome the symptoms of PTSD, and move forwards towards living the bright and happy future that they deserve to live.


Sources:

  1. http://onsexaddiction.com/how-do-soldiers-become-sex-addicts/

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on October 31, 2014
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 4, 2018

Published on AddictionHope.com