To the outside world, it seemed like Rick Springfield was living the dream. But in reality, he was battling severe depression and a sex addiction that almost ruined his marriage.
Rick Springfield confesses that depression hit him at a young age and then followed him into his skyrocketing career. In his memoir Late, Late at Night, he reveals how as a child, he was awkward with girls and obsessed over losing his virginity. He also lacked self-confidence – a factor that led to his chronic struggles with what he called his ‘darkness’. Ultimately, he says it was addiction treatment that saved his life.
“Suicide still sits on my shoulder every now and then.”
During his teens, depression took him into a downward spiral, ultimately leading to a suicide attempt at 17. Overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness, he tried to hang himself. But in a twist of fate, the rope broke, which he took as a sign to push forward and use his love of music as a driving force. To this day, he admits that he still struggles with suicidal thoughts. Says Springfield in a recent interview with Parade Magazine, “To a degree, suicide still sits on my shoulder every now and then.”
In an attempt to ease the symptoms of his depression, Springfield turned to substance abuse and developed an unhealthy relationship with sex. He explains how his depressed psychology led to his sexual compulsions:
“It becomes the thing that you use to make you feel good. It’s not, ‘Oh, I’m feeling turned on tonight.’ It’s a power thing. It’s like, ‘If I have sex with this pretty girl that’s got to mean something – she is OK with having sex with me. So there must be something OK about me.’”
In his book, he even draws comparisons between the way he uses sex, and others use heroin, as a coping mechanism.
Can Sex be as Addictive as a Drug?
Many are unaware that compulsive sexual behaviour can be a form of addiction. Just like those suffering from alcoholism, drug addiction or gambling addiction, sex addicts are consumed with uncontrollable sexual urges – despite the risks and consequences.
The vicious cycle of indulging in the activity, feeling guilt and remorse, resolving to change and then giving into cravings all over again is the same is with any other type of addiction. These similarities illustrate that one can be addicted to a process just as they can to a substance.
How Springfield’s Depression Drove him Toward Sex Addiction
There is a common misconception that people who struggle with addiction simply have a lack of self-control or tendency to overindulge. However, the reality is that addiction is a complex disorder that often involves many factors including genetics, neurobiology, environment and family history. Underlying depression is often connected with addiction, and sex addicts frequently suffer from depression or anxiety disorders. Like any other addiction, negative feelings of inferiority, inadequacy and worthlessness are temporarily soothed by compulsive sexual acts. Addictions fuelled by underlying mental health issues cannot be resolved until those issues are acknowledged and treated as well.
According to Rick Springfield, his addiction-driving depression could not be subdued, even by all of his success and recognition. In 1981, his success was at an all-time high – he was cast as Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital and the same year ‘Jessie’s Girl’ hit number one on the charts. In the beginning, he says, it made him content, but that was short-lived:
“I was sure that once I achieved fame and had money and all the worries would go away and depression would leave. But it settled back down after a while on me, and it always does because you can’t heal it from (the outside), you can only heal it from within and that was a big revelation to me, that fame is not healing.”
But is has not all been negative. He insists that his experiences have helped him become a better father to his two sons, and a better husband to his wife of 30 years. Fans around the world are grateful to him for helping to raise awareness around the often-stigmatised issues of depression and addiction.
Treatment for Co-Occurring Depression and Sex Addiction
For any addiction, seeking professional treatment and having a network of supportive family and friends is key to recovery. Springfield credits his recovery to years of psychotherapy, and insists that it is about facing the issues and not trying to hide from them. He also says that without the support of his wife, he does not think he would have been able to pull himself together: “My wife has been a continual game-changer all through the relationship. She’s the most amazing person I’ve ever known. The thing I learned in therapy is that there’s no final cure.”
Sex addiction does not just affect the rich and famous. In today’s age of Tinder, Grindr and instant gratification, acting on sexual compulsions is easier than ever before.
Sex addiction is one of of the most hidden addictions in the world. This is due to the unhealthy amount of shame attached to the act of sex itself, which only intensifies when addiction is involved.
The Cabin Sydney offers sex addiction treatment, as well as co-treatment of addiction and mental wellness concerns, in a completely confidential setting. And because sex addiction directly involves other people, we offer counselling sessions for your loved ones as part of our holistic intensive treatment programme. If you are struggling with sex addiction, contact us today to see how we can help.