Those of us who have worked in the addiction field or encountered it through our personal lives will be aware that the first step towards recovery is to admit there is a problem in the first place. Being forced into treatment or living in denial are both avenues that will lead to the addiction prevailing. But what about if your addiction did not just come with the usual stigmas of any addiction, but was one that bought deep shame on yourself and your family; one that could lead to you being ostracised in the community? How does sex addiction and culture interact?
In many cultures and religions, sex before or outside of marriage is considered to be a sin and to admit to having engaged in such activity would result in dishonour. So what does that mean to those suffering from a sex addiction? Not only do they have to come clean about their addiction, but also about the fact they have not obeyed their religious or cultural norms. In some countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, viewing porn is illegal, so another obstacle to honesty presents itself.
And what about female sex addicts? The assumption is that sex addiction is a male problem. Whilst research has shown that only around 5% of sex addicts are female, this does not take into account the fact that it may be more difficult for females to admit they have a sex addiction, particularly in certain cultures. For example, Muslim women are taught to be respectful and dignified, yet in order to accept help for their addiction, they would need to reveal that they had not acted in such a way and therefore risk shaming their family. Unfortunately it seems in modern society there is more stigma attached to women with sex addiction than men.
Regardless of gender or culture, sex addiction is becoming more prevalent thanks to the increasing accessibility of sexual material on the internet. Being able to access this material in their own home is like a heroin addict having a never ending supply – eventually the person will ruin their life without help. But as with any addiction, the first step is breaking through the secrecy and admitting there is a problem.