You may have asked this of yourself. Perhaps you wonder about your spouse or partner. Maybe you’re just looking for answers.
As addictions go we understand substances. Consider that caffeine headache you get if it is past 10am and you haven’t had a cup. Or, on the more extreme side, someone who has lost everything and stolen from their own family and friends, to pay for their next hit of meth. Tangible. Frustrating, yet easily grasped.
How about the case of someone who views pornography on a semi-regular basis, enjoys a few beers and the occasional dip of tobacco, and has thought about but never had an affair? An addict?
Sex addiction is often particularly difficult to grasp.
Addiction is not defined by behaviors. Patrick Carnes, PhD, CAS defines addiction as “A pathological relationship with a mood altering substance or behavior.” The key is pathology and the question is, “How is that working for you?” I see pathology at a couple of levels when working with people who are addicted. The first is their self-image – they literally feel totally worthless and often say to themselves, “If anyone knew what I was really like they would run for the hills.” Shame is a constant.
Another area of life that is impacted is their ability to foster and maintain meaningful relationships. Emotion and shared experience are the life-blood of relationship. Addicts avoid or can’t fully comprehend emotions and are often described by people closest to them as “unavailable” or “distant”. The same can be said of shared experience. Addiction is solo pursuit – inherently self focused. Addicts don’t trust anyone and though they may be physically present and even fun to be around, they aren’t totally present in the relationship. They perpetuate isolation.
They have tried to stop, but they can’t. They will often continue despite severe consequences – financially, relationally, spiritually, etc. They feel powerless and out of control. They live in shame and isolation.
That is s shap-shot picture of addiction. The “drug” may be sex, food, gambling, shopping, working, and of course alcohol, pain-killers, and other drugs. Bottom line, addiction is real and debilitating. And, there is hope. People can and do change; they find freedom.
If you or someone you know is in need of help for sex addiction there are 3 simple steps:
1. Take this self-test made available by the International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals. http://www.sexhelp.com/am-i-a-sex-addict/sex-addiction-test
2. Contact Dr. Hosley for more information.
3. Believe in freedom and seek help. Recovery is never a solo pursuit. Find and build a team of individuals committed to your freedom.
Pure Life Alliance www.purelifealliance.org
Pure Desire www.puredesire.org
Sexaholics Anonymous www.sa.org
A more comprehensive list of resources is available through www.IITAP.com