By Deborah Condon
Sex addiction in Ireland is on the increase, with an estimated 8% of men and 3% of women now thought to be affected, a leading psychotherapist has said.
Speaking as part of a series of lectures to promote Addiction Awareness Week, Maura Russell said that while many people are aware of the signs of alcoholism and drug addiction, they are less familiar with the signs associated with other addictions, such as sex addiction and compulsive shopping.
"At the root of all addictions is a deep seated fear and anxiety, both of which are very prevalent in society today", Ms Russell explained.
"Attached to the belief that we are not ok as we are and experiencing pervasive feelings of anxiety, we attach to things, experiences and activities to either avoid these feelings of emptiness or pursue experiences we believe will make us feel powerful or complete", she added.
Ms Russell expressed concerned about the number of people becoming preoccupied with money and the acquisition of wealth and possessions, while losing sight of family and friends.
She also warned about the dangers of 'workaholism', where people can 'get caught up in a cycle of work driven by fears about security, money and the future, which when they come, cannot be experienced because of stress, burnout and illness'.
People need to be aware of the addictive patterns that can emerge from a range of activities, not just from abusing alcohol and drugs, she concluded.