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Dublin: 1 °C Tuesday 25 February, 2020

Significant increase in numbers seeking treatment for sex addiction

The Rutland Centre says sexual addiction is accounting for a growing number of its total client base.

High-profile figures like Tiger Woods have brought sex addiction to the fore - but also led many to ridicule the condition.
High-profile figures like Tiger Woods have brought sex addiction to the fore - but also led many to ridicule the condition.
Image: AP

THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE seeking help for sex addiction at one of the country’s best-known addiction treatment centres has risen significantly in the last four years.

The Rutland Centre says people seeking treatment for the addiction now accounts for over 5 per cent of all clients, compared to just four years ago when the number was under 1 per cent.

Though the addiction is often trivialised, the clinic said the reality was that sex addiction was a traumatic condition for those who suffer from it – and for their loved ones, who face “an extraordinary and unique struggle”, according to the centre’s clinical director Dr Fiona Weldon.

“In other addictions it can be possible to get to a place of understanding and even forgiveness,” she explained.

“However with sexual addicts, there is such a betrayal of trust, and a deep sense of shame that partners of sexual addicts can feel very isolated and lonely, often withdrawing from family and friends. ”

Weldon explained that partners of people with sex addiction often blamed themselves for the condition, and therefore took responsibility for their partner’s behaviour – when in most cases they were the ones suffering more greatly from the problem.

“Frequently their sole focus becomes the addict to the detriment of themselves and at times, of their children,” she said.

One woman, whose partner had been treated for sex addiction, said she had become “a stranger in her own life”.

“I carried the shame of my husband’s addiction on my back and isolated myself from most of my family and friends,” she said.

It was only through extensive therapy and the love and support of a small number of close friends, combined with the shared experiences of others who had faced and lived through the aftermath of sex addiction, that I was able to move forward.

The clinic is running a workshop for partners of people suffering from sex addiction in two weeks’ time, hoping to help partners deal with the unique difficulties they may face in coming to terms with their partner’s condition.

Previously: Recession putting Irish people off sex

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Gavan Reilly

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