This is the final installment in our series The Addicted Cop. If you have missed any of the first three articles, they can be easily accessed by clicking on the related links (listed below).
The issue of addiction, particularly in the form of sex addiction, has held a central place in the news since late November 2009. A pair of otherwise routine stories broke that would soon create a media furor. On November 25, The National Enquirer published a story alleging golfer Tiger Woods had had an extramarital affair with a nightclub manager. Woods said nothing publicly at the time, the woman denied the rumor, and the story likely would have given way to the next celebrity scandal in short order. But two days later, Woods was in the news again following a relatively minor, but very peculiar, car accident as he was trying to leave his own driveway at 2:30 in the morning.
Woods' crash was the fender-bender that would not die and, as it turns out, the two stories may have been a) related after all and, b) just the tip of a giant iceberg with huge personal, professional and economic implications for Woods, his many product endorsements, and the PGA. A National Enquirer allegation of infidelity and a car-versus-fire-hydrant crash achieved nuclear fission as over a dozen alleged mistresses surfaced. Woods' iconic image of self-control shattered as revelations of secret self-indulgence emerged. Speculation that Woods was a sex addict followed.
Now, it is not up to us to diagnose whether Woods truly has a sex addiction or not, although he did acknowledge he has been in treatment since the crash and ensuing media storm, and the alleged patterns of behavior that have been revealed certainly seem to point to addiction. The multitude of talking heads on TV, radio, and in print have voiced wide-ranging opinions from absolute certainty that Tiger is addicted to sex to the belief "addiction is just an excuse for bad behavior" to "there is no such thing as sex addiction." Some have even said - we hope just tongue-in-cheek - that "ALL men are sex addicts, then (HA HA HA)!"
Hardly. There is a wide gulf between enjoying or thinking about sex a lot and repeatedly engaging, to the point of apparent obsession, in a behavior that will likely destroy your marriage, family, career and reputation if discovered. The sad fact is, it is just this kind of addicted behavior that has destroyed many such lives, both celebrity and otherwise.
So how can you tell if you, or someone you care about, might have an addiction? And what should your next steps be if the answer might be, Yes?
Attached is a simple 8-step questionnaire we have adapted from an previous adaptation by Dr Kimberly S Young she used in diagnosing internet addiction (she drew on a model of DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling) that may be helpful in determining if you (or someone you care about) may have, or should be screened for, a particular addiction. Simply fill in the blanks with the possible addiction (sex, gambling, internet, shopping/spending, etc) and, if you find yourself answering Yes (and NOT lying about it!) to a majority of the questions, you may want to seek help or additional screening for addiction treatment.
- Do you feel preoccupied with _______ (think about previous _______ activity or anticipate next _______ session)?
- Do you feel the need to use _______ with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
- Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop _______?
- Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop _______?
- Do you continue _______ longer than originally intended?
- Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of_______?
- Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with_______?
- Do you uses _______ as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?