The former reality star is one of many denied proper addiction treatment by a controlling society.
Josh Duggar, the eldest son of the Duggar clan, is in the spotlight again. First, we heard that Josh had sexually molested four of his younger sisters, as well as another young girl who was not part of the family. Now, leaked data from Ashley Madison, a website designed to facilitate extra-marital affairs, has revealed that Duggar held a paid account.
If you've watched any of the TLC specials concerning the Duggars, you know that Josh is part of an extremely conservative and very religious family.
While everyone is certainly entitled to their own beliefs, those beliefs are dangerous if they present a barrier between addicts and proper treatment. That's exactly what happened here.
In fact, this sort of thing happens all the time. Whether these barriers take the form of religious beliefs, community reputation or a high-profile career, they all have the same end result; a person fails to get the help they need, and they go on to hurt themselves and others.
The public is still struggling to accept sex and porn addiction as fact. When many people hear the word "addiction," they picture heroin needles, trashed-out apartments and empty whiskey bottles. Compared to the stark images we've all seen in the movies, an addiction to something like sex or porn almost seems silly. Its existence is too easily denied and too easily characterized as either a cover for sexual prudishness or a convenient excuse. Those suffering through a sex or porn addiction fear others won't take them seriously, even if they do come forward.
But then there are the Josh Duggars of the world: boys and men who truly hurt people through their actions. His family knew about his actions, and the police even knew, yet he never received the kind of help he so desperately needed. By sweeping his behavior under the rug, by denying it outright, by talking about it as though he simply made a small mistake as opposed to truly hurting others — all the family succeeded in doing was making sure that he would continue to act out sexually. They, too, denied sex addiction's existence, and it cost them dearly.
Even now, Josh's wife Anna has likely received pressure to toe the party line.
In statements, she skirts the issue of his wrongdoing while offering vague "forgiveness," all the while appearing to excuse his behavior which directly affects her life and her children. Even Josh himself appears unsure of whether or not he actually is an addict.
When stories like this pop up in the news, it worries me. While it's good to get the nation talking about the concept of sex addiction and its very real repercussions, it also reinforces the fact that not enough people are taking sex addiction and its treatment seriously. We can see right here in this story what happens when it's waved off by family, by community and even by law enforcement. It ruins lives.
If this story is to have any upside at all, it's important that we all pay attention —
not simply to the sensationalist story of a religious celebrity falling from grace, but the human story of a man desperately in need of help, and the community around him desperate to ignore those needs.
If there's someone in your life right now who you think is struggling with sex or porn addiction — or if you yourself suspect that you are an addict — the most important thing you can do is seek out help right away. Do not try to rationalize or excuse addictive behavior because, as we can see in the case of Josh Duggar, the problem will not simply disappear. It will only continue to create pain and suffering.
Right now we're watching sex addiction tear a family apart, but it can get so much worse. Jobs have been lost, parents have lost children and addicts have really, truly hurt themselves and others.
Please let this story be a lesson to you.
No good can come from denying an addiction. Reach out to someone, and do it now.
George Collins, Founder of Compulsion Solutions, has spent the last 30 years helping porn/sex addicts to reclaim their lives, self-esteem and relationships. For more information, contact George, or to get the first chapter of his book free, visit his website.