Those of you who know me well can attest that I am a passionate champion of advocacy, particularly as it relates to all things regarding counseling and recovery. I’d like to share with you my latest frustration.
Several months ago I visited a large bookstore to purchase a couple resources for clients struggling with sexual addiction. As I looked through the “Addiction and Recovery” section, I found a number of excellent resources from experts in the field. Some were based on the 12-step model. Others were more theory-based or homework-oriented.
You can imagine my surprise and dismay to find among those resources a number of sexually-charged books featuring a lot of bare flesh — in some cases, couples that were completely naked. I was absolutely outraged because I know how something like that can serve as a major source of frustration and temptation to one seeking to find sobriety and recovery.
I was so outraged, in fact, that I took the time to speak with the manager to explain my thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, he seemed to pretty well dismiss my comments, opting to refer me to the big guns at the corporate office “where all the decisions are made.” So I did write them and have yet to hear back.
In a recent return visit to this same bookstore chain, I found the situation unchanged. Among books such as Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction, Don’t Call It Love: Recovery from Sexual Addiction, and The Sex Addiction Workbook, I found other resources on sexual positions and successful threesomes (whatever that may be), all featuring lots of skin.
Being the persistent person that I am, I again asked to speak with a manager. As I provided (perhaps in vain) a brief explanation of why the integration of these resources is completely inappropriate and, in fact, undermining to individuals in recovery, she gave me a brief explanation of why things were stocked as they were. “You see, there are just so many books on human sexuality that we had to continue the ‘Sexuality’ section onto the first two shelves of the ‘Addiction and Recovery’ section,” she said. Then, pointing to the top two shelves, she added, “Anyway, the ‘Recovery’ section really doesn’t begin until the third row.”
As I took a cursory glance at the other titles in that section, I prayed for a way to help her understand my passion for this issue. I saw titles related to eating disorders, sexual abuse, smoking, and codependency.
Then I saw several books related to alcoholism. And I had an epiphany of sorts. Pointing at the alcoholism resources, I told the manager, “The way you have all these books integrated, you might as well have a beer on the bookshelf right next to this book on overcoming alcoholism because to a sex addict, these sexuality resources are just as much a problem.”
She replied, “Oh, really? I think I get it now. I’ll talk with our other managers at our next staff meeting and see what we can do. But these decisions are made at our corporate office and based on the amount of shelf space purchased by the publishers, so it’s a pretty complicated thing to change.”
So is addiction. But hopefully at some point, a positive change will be made. For now though, I will continue to purchase therapeutic resources for my clients and re-sell them at cost — rather than sending them into the lion’s den to risk a major downward spiral.
The next time you visit your local bookstore, I encourage you to check out these sections and let me know what you find.