NMS (No More Secrets) started our 1st men’s group in 2002. Looking back over the past 16 years, encompassing 21 total groups and over 270 men when I overlay group #1 with Group #21, our first group against the backdrop of our latest -21st group, there are some glaring demographic differences that I feel are worth examining. The world has changed much in 16 years and that change is glaringly showing up in our room.
Our first NMS group had a total of 14 men. One person at least, usually, leaves before the group is closed at 10. Looking closer at our first group we see that 11 men were married of the first 14 and another man was in a long term relationship but not married. That’s 12 of 14 in total.
One of the married men was separated never to repair. I never even had a chance to meet her. She was done. Of the remaining 12, two ended in divorce while the men were in NMS and 10 remained intact at the time the men finished NMS. The partnership couple also parted ways on our watch. Two of the 14 men went to inpatient treatment. One of the men was gay and not partnered while another man, our youngest got married after leaving NMS. The 14th man was so crippled by this illness that he had never even been out on a date, no less come close to partnership. The age range was 29 to 60. The average age was 42. Between these men there were 12 children, 4 of them adults and the rest living at home as minors.
We had two lawyers, one physician, two were school teachers, two were in tech, two had government jobs and one of them had a PhD, one bought and sold homes, one co-owned a gas station and one was a social activist. All the men were white, Caucasian except for one Japanese-American. For me the world has changed in 16 years while the debilitating effects of this illness has stayed the same. Six of the 14 finished the program [43%], of them two have passed away, both prematurely. One just faded away, one still sends me a Christmas card with his two minor children who were born after they repaired their marriage and two are still in my life today and for that I am blessed. One even showed up at our last movie night, Pink.
Our newest NMS group #21, just started this past May 2018 and was complete in less than a month. That’s what I get for answering my phone. We actually closed the group at 11 total men because I had two men see me for the first time and they sign on in the same day. As we enter July we are still at 11. No one has left yet.
Of these 11 men we have only two men who are currently married, one of them is for the second time. His current wife is at best ambivalent about this recovery stuff and their non-written, non-verbal mutual non-aggression pact contract allows the marriage to appear to be working. He is here without any external pressure to change. He has 9 children from his 1st marriage. Five of them are adults with the remaining 4 being minors. The other married man in this new group was caught by his wife doing “bad behavior” and he’s working hard to save the marriage. In my world his “bad behavior” is a low bottom, some “normies” (that’s what I call people with no addictions) that would even call it benign [adult porn + masturbation]. They have two young children and from where I sit it’s a mess. I haven’t met his wife yet and it sounds like I probably won’t. He’s the designated sick one and as often happens in these types of marriages, his wife believes that a short leash will save them. I can honestly say that in all my years doing this I have NEVER seen that strategy be successful in the long run.
Of the divorced men , one was actually legally divorced only 30 hour before he walked into my office and a piece of him would like to see that dead marriage resurrected. They have no children. Another man, our oldest was divorced 30 years ago and never remarried, to his chagrin. The third was divorced three years ago and his ex and toddler live out of state. It’s a sad story and there is a lot of collateral damage and mental health issues.
We have one man who has a partner and a four year old. Besides the obvious sex and love addiction there is a history of substance abuse, so it’s complicated for sure. That covers six out of 11 and that leaves 5.
Now for our new wrinkle. They range in age from two 21 year olds, two 24 year olds and a 27 year. That’s younger than any man back in 2002. Of the five who have never been partnered only one has had what would even vaguely resemble a real relationship. Three of the five are virgins and one man’s only sexual intercourse experience was a paid-for liaison. Four of the five were referred to me by ReStart treatment center in Fall City WA, the only USA inpatient treatment center for gaming addiction. It appears that when they get past the gaming piece, the sex and love addiction including love and sex avoidance shows itself. This is a new phenomenon for NMS.
Looking at the 11 men, four are college grads including an attorney and a certified accountant. Two of those 4 are unemployed or under earners as a direct result of their addictions. Four others are unemployed as a result of their inability to function as adults in the real world. Four are still subsidized to some degree by family and three failed out of really strong universities as a result of their addiction. The average age of this group is 33! As compared to 42 in our 1st group. Down it appears to be going.
Two are in the tech industry, one drives a bus, one is in the service sector [ex law enforcement] and one is a chief. Seven work at what would be considered a real job. The crippling effects of this dis/ease is so much easier to see in 2018 than it was to see in 2002!
So as a “social scientist” what would I attribute this to, the answer is easy for me even without the men in white coats and clip boards taking in data and constantly assessing cause and effect. In the drug and alcohol world it’s called “early onset”. The age one first starts their addictive behavior is the age when maturation stops. Kind of like a 14 year old smoking pot and by forty he’s a grown man with the maturity of a teen. For ten of the eleven their “drug of choice”, their delivery system for anti-social behavior was the computer. Twenty four seven, seven days a week with NO BLUE LAWS or LAST CALL and all this for free and in the confines of mom’s house.
This trend is alarming to say the least, a new generation of addicts lost in space. A far cry from Bill Wilson who graduated from an Ivy League College before he blew up his life. These “kids” never stood a chance on so many levels. Seven of the 11 grew up with money, stuff, nice house, flat screen TV’s and S.U.V’s. Most also grew up with at least one helicopter parent, creating a “special snowflake”. The millennial effect for sure. And of course they are all really smart and computer savvy. Who knew!
If this sounds like someone you know or you just want to talk, give me a call.