Limerick-based counsellor, Mike Guerin
SEXUAL addiction is no longer the preserve of Hollywood celebrities as a Limerick-based counsellor says he has seen an increase in the numbers presenting for treatment.
While Bruree House - the largest residential addiction treatment facility in Ireland - doesn’t treat those with the fixation they are referring a growing number of people who have sought help.
Mike Guerin, counsellor in Bruree, said the numbers are still small but “we need to remember the numbers are coming from zero”.
In his nine years as a counsellor it is only three or four years ago that clients started enquiring about treatment for sexual addiction.
“There has been a steady lift in numbers. We don’t offer counselling for it here in Bruree, the ones we have come across we have referred them onto various places in Dublin because it is a specialist area in terms of counselling,” explained Mr Guerin.
There are many consequences of sexual addiction, he said, and in particular how it affects loved ones.
”There is the possible break-up of relationships from affairs, there are financial consequences - people can waste money very foolishly and there can be loss of jobs from not turning up to work. Somebody could take off for the weekend and not come back on Monday morning.
“The big thing is family and relationships and this is where it is different from other addictions. Families can handle a person drinking too much, they can see a way to forgive them that but families can’t handle infidelity and the sex addict getting into other relationships,” said Mr Guerin.
When Bruree House was founded 40 years ago it dealt almost exclusively with alcoholics. It then began to offer treatment to drug addicts and in more recent years has seen more and more presenting with issues surrounding gambling. And this is the future, according to Mr Guerin.
“It is going to be process addictions around technology – this is an addiction where you don’t take a substance - gambling, shopping, stealing, social media, pornography, gaming and sex. In other words there’s nothing being taken.
“These addictions are going to be more prevalent. Addictions develop depending on societal influences,” said Mr Guerin.
These dependencies reflect the way the world is changing with technology playing an evermore important role in our lives, he said.
“Technology is so commonplace now that people who are potentially addictive will find their addictive pursuit through what is in front of them,” said Mr Guerin.
The issue of sexual addiction has been raised in recent weeks by Senator Frances Black.
She says the stigma surrounding it is preventing people from admitting they have a problem. Senator Black says that sex addiction and online pornography is a very real issue impacting many families around the country and the devastation it causes to families is just as bad as that created by drugs, alcohol and gambling.