The problem with sex addiction and celebrity: Part Two

In part one we took a look at the differences between the portrayal of drug and alcohol addiction compared with sex addiction. We also discovered that there seems to be a lack of sympathy for celebrities struggling with sex addiction. In part two we will take a quick look at why so many celebrities seem to be struggling with sex addiction and hopefully develop an understanding that leads us to sympathise more with their situation.

In a previous blog post titled ‘How sex addiction starts,’ we looked at something called opportunity-induced addiction. Nowadays sex is readily available for anyone and everyone in bars and clubs and even in the privacy of your own home via the internet. The same can be said of celebrities and perhaps even more so. With wealth and social status it is not often a challenge to find partners to have sex with. We’ve seen many stories of famous popstars sleeping with a number of fans or ‘groupies’ who might relish the opportunity to be intimate with their favourite celebrity. Furthermore, sex addiction may look somewhat ‘sad’ if you’re masturbating alone at home 5 times a day but it might be a much more glamorous picture if you’re simply having lots and lots of sex with attractive people.  So if you’re a sex addict and you have wealth, fame and good looks – it is an easy addiction to feed.

And with all this opportunity staring us in the face, there is an accompanying lack of education on the potential dangers. Pornography is often free and there are no public health warnings. In my survey conducted back in 2013, 1 in 5 people said they didn’t know you could become addicted to sex and it was the most influential factor in becoming addicted. Celebrities are not immune or an exception to this lack of education.

Another potential explanation for sex addiction seeming so common amongst celebrities may lie simply in the nature of their personality. Celebrities who gained their fame through performing will be well accustomed to that dopamine rush gained through performing in front of large audiences. Their job literally requires them to be seeking that thrill. And sex is just another form of thrill-seeking. They may be experiencing that same kind of rush which presumably, given their career choice, they desire and enjoy.

What the public can sometimes be unaware of is that there is also an enormous amount of peer pressure in Hollywood and in general celebrity circles. There is certainly a common and well-shared notion of ‘well everybody’s doing it’ and accompany that with the wealth of opportunity and lack of health warnings, it is perhaps not surprising that celebrities would cave to such pressure. After all, they are still human. The industry itself is extremely high pressure in more ways than one. And compared to alcohol and drugs, sex may seem like the safer and more discreet addiction to indulge.

One of the greatest catalysts and enablers of addiction is shame and secrets. The cycle of addiction literally thrives off it. It can be difficult for anyone to open up about a traumatic childhood, mental illness or personal battle with addiction. But that fear and anxiety is tremendous for those living in constant scrutiny of the public eye. Imagine confessing your deepest and darkest secrets and waking up to find them on the front page of every newspaper? The burden of fame is a great one and it is not surprising that many choose to stay silent and let issues go unresolved and eventually escalate. Additionally, as mentioned in part one, there seems to be serious lack of sympathy when it comes to celebrities opening up about a possible sexual addiction. Perhaps they are frightened of the public reaction to such news and therefore the dangers of seeking help outweigh the advantages.

It is generally obvious to everyone that there is an absurd amount of opportunity out there for anyone struggling with a sexual addiction. And so with all this sexual opportunity staring us in the face and luring us in, it can be hard to resist. But as John Tsilimparis states in his article about celebrities and addiction for the Huffington Post:

“…Throw in fame, stardom, wealth, the pressure to perform, the high expectations, and most importantly the public scrutiny that goes along with it – and you can have a lethal combination.”

Celebrities may look like they have it all but in reality they are constantly under an enormous amount of pressure. If we can take all these factors into account and try to understand the less glamorous side of their world, it can lead the way to understanding why so many of them struggle with addictions. And most importantly, it can lead them to seek help and support for the problem.