Pornography and Sex Addiction in the Military

Bio: “Pornography and Sex Addiction in the Military” was written by Red River Hospital clinical team member Erica Smith, M.A., 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.

Site Description: Red River Hospital is a private psychiatric hospital that is dedicated to being a leader in providing superior, comprehensive care for children, adolescents, adults, seniors, and military servicemen and women who are facing the challenges associated with behavioral health concerns or substance abuse issues.

By offering individualized, comprehensive treatment, the staff at Red River Hospital strives to provide all who come to us for care with the skills necessary to overcome their psychiatric and addiction problems.

men-422989_640Sex addiction has been described as a progressive disorder of intimacy that is characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Despite what many may assume, having an addiction to sex does not always infer that an individual is chronically engaging in sexual activity with others.

Some sex addicts do not allow their behaviors to move beyond compulsive masturbation or an excessive use of pornography. Other sex addicts will participate in illegal acts such as voyeurism, exhibitionism, or making random, obscene phone calls.

Sadly, there are some sex addicts whose addiction brings them to the point of committing rape, sexual assault, or child molestation (1). It is also not uncommon for sex addicts to have repeated extramarital affairs or to have an excessively large amount of sexual partners.

When a person is addicted to sex, things that are sexual in nature become his or her primary focus in life, taking priority over what would be considered normal, healthy everyday activities and responsibilities.

The Difference Between Interest and Obsession

So what is the difference between having a healthy interest in sex and having a sex addiction?

Due to the fact that there is no official diagnosis for sex addiction, clinicians and researchers in the field have made strides towards defining behaviors that are indicative of the presence of a sex addiction by using criteria that is based on literature pertaining to chemical dependency.

Michael Herkov, Ph.D., who writes for Psych Central, states that the following symptoms have been agreed upon as being displayed by those who have a sex addiction:

  • Consistently and frequently engaging in more sexual activity than intended
  • Consistently and frequently engaging in sexual activity with more partners than intended
  • Neglecting obligations and responsibilities in pursuit of sex
  • Putting one’s safety at risk for the sake of sexual gratification
  • Experiencing feelings of irritability when unable to engage in the desired sexual behavior
  • Having a persistent preoccupation with sex
  • Being unable to limit sexual activity, despite attempts to do so
  • Continuing to engage in sexual practices, despite having the desire to stop
  • Consistently escalating scope or frequency of sexual activity in order to achieve the desired effects (2)

The Military and Sex Addiction

soldier-390202_640One population in which sex addiction has become a topic of frequent conversation is within the military. In regards to pornography alone, which is considered to be a type of sex addiction, research has shown that approximately 10% of civilians have an addiction to porn, while the percentage amongst military personnel is noted as being double that, at 20%.

One theory that has been cited as to why some military servicemen and women develop an addiction to sex is because they find it to be a way to relieve themselves from the negative emotions that they feel as a result of having been deployed.

For some, sex acts as a tool that they can use to distract themselves from the memories of what they experienced or from the stresses and challenges that they face as part of reintegrating back into civilian society.

They are looking for something that they can use to numb the bad feelings they have, and sex appears as a less dangerous alternative to using drugs or alcohol, as many individuals do in an attempt to escape from the realities of everyday life. Sex becomes a new coping skill that potentially replaces other healthy methods of coping (3).

Treatment Is Available for Sexual Addiction

While the presence of a sex addiction can cause much devastation on the lives of those who suffer from it, as well as on the lives of their families, there is treatment available. As is true for receiving any kind of mental health treatment, whether it be for behavioral, emotional, or substance abuse concerns, different methods will work better for some individuals than they will for others.

People who are addicted to sex will experience different triggers that lead to the onset of the compulsive behaviors, they will have different symptoms, and the patterns of their addictions will vary. As a result, seeking help from a qualified mental health professional or addictions specialist is imperative.

What Treatment Programs Offer

us-air-force-77909_640Treatment programs such as those that help individuals by targeting the maladaptive thought patterns that lead to compulsive behaviors can provide those who are addicted to sex with a safe environment in which they can address their problematic behaviors. Various treatment modalities have proven effective in treating those with a sex addiction.

Individual therapy provides sufferers with the opportunity to explore the thought processes and life experiences that have led them to this addiction. Group therapy can provide sex addicts with the opportunity to find additional support in trying to overcome their addiction while learning valuable tools to resist impulses.

Family therapy can help rebuild relationships that have been damaged as a result of the addiction, while also providing education to the sufferer’s loved ones about the disease of addiction. The key to effective treatment is finding care that meets the unique needs of each individual.

By receiving treatment for sex addiction, those that struggle with these type of compulsions can find relief, have improved functioning, and be able to maintain healthy relationships, all of which will ultimately better their lives.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What has been your experience with sexual addiction recovery in the military?


 
References:

  1. http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-sexual-addiction/000748
  2. http://psychcentral.com/lib/symptoms-of-sexual-addiction/000745
  3. http://onsexaddiction.com/how-do-soldiers-become-sex-addicts/