At first glance, you’d be tempted to say getting an STD has nothing to do with addiction, well, maybe not to alcohol or drugs at least. Although the DSM V still does not classify sexual addiction as an actual mental condition, we all know of at least one person who simply can’t keep his or her hands off the opposite or even the same sex.
The person I’m talking about is a former college friend of mine, Richard. He recently came out as gay, but I’ve known about his sexual preferences for a while. I was slightly shocked to find out that he’s also been battling alcoholism for quite some time, but has never managed to find his way into long term sobriety just yet.
Numbing the Feelings
Richard and I were briefly reacquainted during our 10 year college reunion. I saw that he wasn’t feeling very comfortable in the crowd and went over to see how he was doing. We hit it off pretty quickly and started conversing about the post-college parts of our life. That’s when I found out that he was also on a slippery slope into depression and alcoholism, but that was only part of the problem.
You see, Richard’s lifestyle revolved heavily around a local gay club where he would often pick up casual sex partners for one night stands. I’d also like to point out that his family was deeply religious and shunned Richard after coming out as gay. He’d drink until he couldn’t see straight to numb his feelings of abandonment and then hit on the person who looked the most available and take him home. The next morning, they’d part ways as complete strangers.
Now, in addition to perpetuating the feelings of loneliness and fear of commitment, Richard’s hookups came with some very real physical consequences. To put it simply, while having sex with random strangers drunk out of his mind, Richard never thought about using protection. As a result, he contracted almost every common STD out there, except thankfully HIV and syphilis. At the time of our reunion, he told me he had developed some nasty looking warts and was currently treating Chlamydia. Yikes!
I Tried to Help
Upon our college reunion, I was already entering my third year of sobriety, but the memories of my former alcoholism were still quite vivid. I could understand the feelings of frustration that Richard must have felt when his own family refused to accept his sexual preference and the depression that led him to drink. I asked Richard if he ever checked into rehab and he said he once was kicked out of one for making sexual advances on the group therapist.
He was kidding, obviously, using humor to mask his fear of taking this step because he didn’t think himself capable of going through with it. That’s when I thought it was appropriate to let him know that I was also in his shoes at one point in my life. I could see Richard’s face light up upon hearing the news; he wasn’t happy about my suffering but he probably felt that, for once in a very long time, he wasn’t alone.
You are not alone too if you have such issues, all you need is to open up to someone you can trust so that guidance can come along.