During the holiday season, many people look forward to taking a few vacations days to snuggle up with their significant other. Winter movies, fresh eggnog and newly unwrapped presents become aphrodisiacs, and love is in the air across the globe. While this sounds nice (and it is nice for most couples), there is a lot more that goes on beneath the surface.
Similar to any kind of addiction (including gambling), intimacy and sex addictions can be used to unhealthily cope with problems ranging from depression, work anxiety or even trauma that was caused decades in the past.
Many people crave sexual attention as a way to validate themselves and feel wanted. Meeting new people who like you can be an endorphin rush that is as addictive as any other chemical substance. It all comes down to numbing the underlying pain, but unfortunately, brushing your problems under the rug does not dispose of them permanently.
A casual sexual encounter may be a rush for a few hours, but when the “buzz” wears off, the same problems are waiting for you, looking you dead in the eye. Now what? Repeat the behavior? Brush it under the rug again and hope that the result is different? Unfortunately, until you actually address the underlying problem, short-term coping behaviors will just add anxiety to your already stressful situation.
Here are three general points you should know about intimacy and addiction:
- Honesty is key – If you are dealing with intimacy addiction, gambling issues or any combination of the two, be transparent and straightforward.
Be honest with yourself. Be honest with your partner. Be honest with your medical professionals. It is difficult to combat addictions if you fly solo. Having a compassionate and understand support group goes a long way in recovering from a number of behavioral addictions.
- Vulnerability does not equal weakness – We are all humans, doing our best to make our own way in society. There are many misconceptions about sexual addictions, and addiction in general, and these generalizations are hurtful and harmful.
- Treatments vary – There is no one-size-fits-all solution for any kind of addiction. While some people prefer one-on-one therapy, other prefer group meetings. It’s important to talk to a trained professional and try different approaches to determine which works best for your specific situation and personality type.
Think about intimacy addiction the same way you think about problematic gambling or opioid dependence. People chase “highs” to escape from reality. We have dealt with this many times – from illegal sports betting incidents in AC to senior citizens going bankrupt on the slot machines, it’s never too late to change your ways.
According to Neva Pryor, Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, just because the CCGNJ team is trained to assist people with all forms of gambling, including sports betting problems online and slot machine addiction in Atlantic City, doesn’t mean we cannot help get you in touch with somebody about your other concerns. To connect with a specialist today, call 1-800-GAMBLER.