Sexual Addiction - Why People Become Addicted
Brian engaged in three sexually addictive behaviors: 1) compulsive masturbation, 2) addictive use of pornography, and 3) frequenting massage parlors.
He was also an alcoholic. Through my counseling he learned that it did not matter whether he drank beer, wine or hard liquor, whether he drank at home, out in public, on the weekend, or during lunch. He needed to treat all drinking behaviors the same.
Unlike alcohol - all sexually addictive behaviors are not equal.
Most people approach sex addiction as if it were alcohol because the Twelve Step Program is so popular. Fortunately, you now have a better approach. Let's refine it further and come up with a definition of addiction that can be applied to both alcohol abuse and sex addiction, as well as any other addiction:
An addiction is an *activity* or a *substance* a person uses to *avoid* dealing with *uncomfortable* thoughts or feelings that need to be faced.
Brian became addicted to alcohol because:
-Rather than deal with a tense social situation, he drank to relieve anxiety. His genes didn't make him do it. Neither did his parents, society, or a chemical imbalance. Brian chose to do it.
-Rather than look for answers to his bouts of depression, he forgot them by drinking. It was his choice.
-When he felt a lack of confidence in a new situation, he used alcohol to temporarily remove his self-doubts. No one put a gun to his head; he did it all by himself.
-He got addicted to sex the same way. Failure, anger, guilt, loneliness - any uncomfortable feeling - could be removed through fantasy and sex. He chose to use sex as a drug. Sex is not a disease and neither is sex addiction. Choice is not a disease either. It is a decision between two or more options. Brian chose to get high on sex rather than face life.
No one gets genuine, long-term pleasure from addiction.
They get what Brian got: a temporary, illusionary relief from uncomfortable feelings.
There's a three-stage process in becoming addicted:
In the early stage, the person genuinely believes that his/her addiction causes pleasure.
In the middle stage, the person questions whether or not the addiction is pleasurable.
In the final stage, the person realizes the addiction creates more pain than pleasure, yet he or she continues acting addictively.
Beverly, Brian's wife, asked me, "Brian knows he should have never started his addictions. Why does he keep on doing them? Why doesn't he stop?"
If you're addicted, I'm sure you've asked yourself that question many times. The answer is:
If overcoming addiction is not approached correctly, you will probably act addictively for the rest of your life, even though you know the addictive behavior is disastrous.
People don't feel hopeless about overcoming addiction until they fail at stopping. If you're feeling hopeless, let's use your failures as an opportunity to learn.
Look at your past experiences and you'll see that you failed at overcoming addiction because the approach you used relied on repression. Most people don't even realize they're repressing, and I'm sure you didn't realize it either.
If you're not addicted, and you doubt your partner's sincerity about wanting to stop, ask him or her the following questions:
-"If you found a positive, realistic way to stop acting addictively, would you use it?"
-"If you were required to work very hard, and then it got easier and easier to stay free of your addiction, would you work at it?"
If your partner answers "yes" to both questions, don't give up.
If you have ever tried to stop acting addictively, or you're close to someone who has not overcome their addiction, read through the list below carefully. It will identify the major reasons people do not overcome addiction.
You'll see it's not because of stupidity, laziness, or self-destructive tendencies. It's the ineffective ideas that have been presented by the conventional, licensed therapists and the Twelve Step Program.
-Trying to stop by repressing addictive desires. When the repressed desires exploded, the addicted person had no way of dealing with the explosion.
-Relying on some form of behavior modification that resulted in a temporary solution but did not address the underlying addictive feelings.
-Using medication that caused side effects worse than the addiction and/or repressed the addictive desire
-Allowing themselves to be pushed into stopping, then feeling angry at whoever pressured them into stopping.
-Becoming depressed about stopping because of poorly developed motivation.
-Wasting precious time and energy analyzing the childhood rather than dealing with the addiction in the here and now.
-Plunging into other addictions and then going back to the old addiction to escape the new addictions.
-Accepting the nonsense that addiction is a disease, and thus believing that an addicted person is not responsible for his or her actions.
-Expecting a Higher Power to do the work. Whatever your beliefs, I know there's one belief that applies to all religions: "God helps those who help themselves." The Twelve Step Program does not apply it. The program insists that you are not capable of handling an addiction on your own. Read their literature and you will see it for yourself. (Later on I will explain how the program generates its relatively few successes.)
Brian and Beverly decided that working with me would be their last attempt to build a good marriage together. Today they are a happy couple. It wasn't easy. Healing a relationship and overcoming sex addiction never is. The rewards are always worth it.
Most couples who lose marriages to addiction do not have to put themselves, their children, and their families through the pain of divorce.
Most people who act addictively today feel hopeless about overcoming their addiction. They are not hopeless. You are not hopeless. You have free will. You just need to know how to use it.
If there is any message to take away from this book, it's this:
Given the correct approach, most people will gladly face their feelings and choose to stop acting addictively.
Articles in this categoryFor The Man In A Relationship Troubled By Sex Addiction | Is He Sexually Addicted | Did you lose a good relationship or never have one? | The Key To Mental Health and Overcoming Sex Addiction | You Have What It Takes To Stop Sex Addiction | Stop Sex Addiction Here and Now Naturally | Rely On Yourself To Stop Sexual Addiction | Work With The Mind To Stop Sex Addiction | How To Be In Control Of A Sexual Addiction | How To Find Competent Help To Overcome Sex Addiction | Sexual Addiction - Why People Become Addicted | Sexual Addiction - Misconceptions To Avoid | Sexual Addiction and The Symptoms of Addiction | Why Sexual Addiction Is A Unique Addiction | How I Overcame Sex Addiction |