Sex addiction: Shedding light on a topic no one wants to talk about
TRI-CITIES, Wash. —
Sex addiction. It's a taboo topic that most people would associate with sex offenders or predators, but according to officials it's actually nothing like that. The emotional struggle is a growing problem everywhere... even right here at home.
KEPR reached out to a man who has been through this struggle, and has now made it his life's work to help others battling this addiction. Shedding light on a topic no one wants to talk about.
Counselor Dan Garner asks a question you may hear in any counseling session.
The difference here? Most of his clients are sex addicts.
And no, that doesn't mean they're sex offenders...or violent predators. It also doesn't mean they just have a really strong sex drive. He says his clients are non-violent people who try to numb or suppress emotions through sexual acts.
"When you meet people that are really struggling with this issue, it's destroying their lives, so it is a big deal," said Dan.
And he can speak to that first hand.
"I grew up like many of my clients with emotional struggles. I felt a lot of shame and discomfort socially and everything and I got into pornography when I was a teenager."
Unlike most teenagers though, Dan didn't just go through a phase. Addiction took over his life.
"I ended up going down a path that I never would imagine in a million years that I would have gone down."
At his lowest point, he reached out for help.
"There is hope, there is healing."
Now, he uses his experiences to help people going through similar things...but it's not easy. Unlike other addictions like alcoholism or drug addiction, the answer is not to stop cold turkey, Dan.
"You have to keep it in your life and yet change the way you relate to it.The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection," said Dan.
A connection with their own emotions and an openness with the ones they love.
"It's extremely traumatic."
Dan says spouses often experience symptoms of PTSD after the addiction is revealed to them. Flash backs, controlling behavior. They thought they were safe with their partner, and that safety net has been taken away.
It's why the healing process also consists of group therapy and counseling specifically for the spouse, says Dan. Making a subject that seems so taboo.. more understandable.
"This is not something that's happening over there. This is stuff that's happening in our own homes, our own families," said Dan.
And the more sex addiction is discussed in the open, the more healing there is to come.
Another important thing to note is that it's not just men struggling with this. After researching the topic, Dan says around a third of all sex addicts are women, and that number is growing... thanks to the porn industry catering more towards women.
If you or anyone you know needs help with sex addiction... Here's a link.