How do Soldiers become Sex Addicts?

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Sex Addicted SoldiersWhen we hear about the problems soldiers face related to their wartime activities, we typically hear about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The condition itself is still being understood, and up until recently carried a stigma. While some of those old notions linger, soldiers with PTSD are finding greater acceptance amongst their own groups and the public at large, and there are more efforts to make treatment available.

What people hear less about are soldiers who develop sex addictions. PTSD can lead to sex addiction, given the nature of the latter.

When a soldier returns home filled with negative emotions, feelings and experiences they often look to find a way to deal with those emotions and change the bad feelings to good ones. Sex is the answer at times as it’s not a substance like drugs or alcohol and seems the lesser of evils for some.

How sex addiction works is similar to other compulsive behavioral problems. A person finds themselves suffering from some form of negative feeling and seeks to numb or dull that feeling. Sex accomplishes all these things and more. When a person is engaged in sex, their brain produces chemicals like dopamine, which give a fleeting sense of euphoria. Drug addiction develops the same way, only the chemicals are from outside the body.

Sex addiction sets in when the brain becomes accustomed to these chemicals being the cause of stress reduction, and even when stress is not present the absence of the chemicals is enough to trigger a craving. For those deep into sex addiction and with no methods of fighting it, simply beating the urges with willpower will not be enough, even if the behavior is causing the person serious problems.

PTSD carries symptoms such as depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and mood swings. It’s typically a result of some traumatic event, or a lengthy stressful period. After coming back from a war zone, it’s natural for anyone to have these problems, but if they persist for months on end, then a person should speak to a professional about the possibility of  PTSD.

Where sex addiction becomes an issue for soldiers is when they use sex to cope with the stress of military life. Being thousands of miles from home in a strange place with strange people, all while being in physical danger, is obviously stressful to say the least. People have developed sex addictions under much less stressful conditions, such as going off to college for the first time. Soldiers may become sex addicts by using sexual behavior to cope with boredom, loneliness, fear, anxiety, and any other negative emotion they have to deal with.

One might be under the impression that soldiers don’t have much opportunity for sexual behavior, at least not on a constant basis, but as far as sex addiction goes, masturbation and even fantasies can trigger the chemical rush in the brain. Soldiers in modern wars also have unprecedented Internet access, where most pornography use occurs.

While there is more openness around PTSD, there are still cultural barriers against soldiers seeking treatment for it. The same goes for addiction to sex in both military and general populations. The problem soldiers with PTSD and sex addiction can face is going after one problem while not addressing the other. A soldier with PTSD may not even think he or she has an addiction and is attributing their issues to the stress disorder. Fortunately, there are ways to treat both at the same time, and many of those treatments overlap.



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