Apr 1, 2016

Is the Addiction Label Helpful or Hurtful?


Many people believe that using the term "sex addict" is detrimental, and should no longer be used when treating sex addicts because it causes them to feel too much shame.

I can definitely see how someone could feel shame by calling themselves a sex addict. I can also see how someone could feel shame by saying "I look at pornography all the time and refuse to stop".

Is the term addict sometimes incorrectly misused to instantly label teens who have viewed pornography but may have not yet developed an addiction yet?

YES. Most definitely.

But for the sake of simplicity since that is due to a person's/parents lack of knowledge, **** I am NOT referring to anyone who has been called a sex addict who is NOT actually a sex addict****. When I say sex addict, I mean a person who REFUSES TO STOP acting out despite the negative consequences and destruction it brings. (This is usually followed by some type of abuse towards the spouse as well) 

So now that we have that cleared, is calling a sex addict a "sex addict" bad or good? Should we throw out the sex addict label because it can cause shame, OR, continue using it?

In the end, I don't think someone's shame can be a deciding factor considering shame has to do with a person's individual insecurities. And everyone's insecurities, childhoods, circumstances, and beliefs are different. No matter what, there will be times when using the term addict/"non-addict" won't work for someone because a name is not a cure-all.

Back in the day the term addict alone was shameful because it was hush hush. Many people used to think things like woman VOTING, or things like rape and sex slavery were shameful to TALK about too (a few still do). Some Priests advised women not to talk about rape and to never mention even the "name". They believed it to be wrong and bad. And I'm sure by NOT calling "rape" RAPE it appeased many people and made them feel better to not have to hear or talk about such an "awful word". Im glad they felt better.

But was their shame proof that speaking up about being raped was bad? Was their shame proof things like women voting was bad? Etc.

Now days therapists help victims speak up and not feel shame or fear in saying "I was raped", and woman voting is normal and thought of as good, and even things like addiction are becoming more acceptable. Although sex addiction just happens to be a little behind, but that doesn't mean we should give up the sex addict label.

I guess I just can't see any benefit in abandoning the sex addict label for people who really ARE sex addicts. But for kicks, let's say hypothetically everyone all of a sudden decided to stop using the sex addict label.

What would they call it? Wouldn't they then just come up with a new name for those vwho "struggle with pornography or other sexual acts"? Because c'mon, they're gonna have to call it SOMETHING. And in 100 years would that new name cause everyone to feel shame about it too?

If a name, phrase, word for healing etc flat out doesn't work or incorrectly describes what your trying to communicate, then I get it, yes lets fix it!

But if a word, phrase, name etc is causing other people to feel shame and insecurity, it makes me wonder......where does a person's own accountability and responsibility of their own feelings come into play? At what point do we say "I need to change myself" vs "I need to change everyone else".

Meh, I don't know.

Being able to own up to the fact that I'm an addict has been crucial to my Recovery though. It's never given me permission to justify acting out MORE claiming "Oh whoops, guess I can't stop, I'm an addict so I'll just keep acting out!" (and if an addict says this, THEY are to blame, not the addict label). 

Instead, the addict label has done the OPPOSITE. Its taught me that if I choose to act out in my addiction, I will never WANT to stop, so in order to stay sober I need to completely STAY FAR FAR AWAY FROM IT FOREVER. It shows a level of submission to GOD. We're all sinners in need of help after all aren't we? Or should we stop using the word sin too because it may cause shame? "If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee."

I ain't going to pretend Im not a sinner that cut off my "right hand". 😉

AND yes, admitting I was an addict abuser DID bring me some shame. Of course it was embarrassing ha. Which is why I knew I, ME, needed to change and combat my fear and shame by telling as many people as I could that I was an addict. I shouted it on the rooftops. It helped me to quickly get over my fear and shame of being an addict (good ol' self imposed exposure therapy👍).

If I would have let my shame rule me by avoiding to tell people I was an addict, I know in my heart I wouldn't be sober today.

I prefer to call things like they are, or what people know them to be. I believe this helps foster better communication. Better communication fosters better understanding, and better understanding fosters better Recoveries.