By Amy Sohler, MPA, MA, LMHC, CDP, MHP
Unity is our most cherished quality. We find a greater personal freedom than any other society knows. In that sense, our society is a benign anarchy. The word 'anarchy' has a bad meaning to most of us… But I think that the gentle Russian prince who so strongly advocated the idea felt that men would voluntarily associate themselves in the common interest.
— Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, 1957
By Heidi Kinsella, MA, LMHCA, NCC, ASAT
Family Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows
You find out that your husband has been having sex outside of your marriage. This has been going on for a while; you feel sick and like you’ve been run over by a truck. If this betrayal wasn’t bad enough, his elaborate lies and storytelling have left you doubting yourself. There are moments when you feel crazy. Even though he has been caught, he continues to lie! Unbelievable!! How is this possible? You are angry, betrayed, tired, and just want the craziness to stop! You say to yourself, “Even if I could forgive the affairs, I can’t live with the lying!!! Why doesn’t he understand that???”
I have heard this story over and over again while working with partners of sex addicts. Unfortunately, I have also lived this nightmare in my own life as part of my own journey which brought me into this field.
As sex addiction develops, the addict learns to compartmentalize his life. He has his life with his wife, family, friends, and work; that life is real. He loves his wife and kids and enjoys spending time with friends. The problem is, he has another life that has been made completely separate from his life with you. It is the life of his sex addiction.
This separate life is secret, and it must stay that way in order to protect his addiction. If anyone found out about his behaviors, his addiction would be threatened; if he were made to stop, he would feel as if he would die. He needs this behavior to live, yet the behavior is hurting him.
He feels so much shame for what he is doing, but yet, he can’t stop… He just keeps on going despite the shame, the pain, and the consequences. So, he creates a web of lies to protect the addiction which become an integral part of his addiction. The lies roll out of his mouth before he even realizes he is lying. He has become a master at deception.
Living with this aspect of sex addiction is confusing and very painful. Sex addicts are so good at lying that they can convince you that the sky is not blue and that you are crazy for thinking it is. We call this “crazy-making”, and it is. It leads us to feel crazy and doubt our sanity.
At Gentle Path at The Meadows, we shine a light on the addicts’ secrets and have them talk about the behaviors they thought they would take to their grave. When you talk about these things, it takes away the shame and allows the addiction to come out into the light where the healing can begin.
We realize our patients have created a secret life and lie to protect themselves, and we call them out on it. We push them to tell the truth and teach them that staying sexually sober and telling the truth are critical to earning the trust of their loved ones. They must tell the truth, no matter what. We teach them that they need to do what they say they are going to do – period. We let them know that sometimes the addict can stay sober sexually, but his marriage may still end because he can’t quit lying. Learning to tell the truth MUST be part of the recovery process.
I had a client once who promised not to deposit any checks without his wife present. A check came in the mail for $5.00, and he figured it would be okay to deposit it since it was such a small amount. Of course, when his wife found out about the deposit, she was livid because if he couldn’t be trusted on small matters, how could he be trusted on large matters? She was right. He needed to learn to honor his word in all areas.
This question is difficult to answer because each addict’s process is slightly different. For some addicts, the lying flies off their tongues before they realize it. These individuals find themselves saying that they are at the grocery store when they are at an auto part store when they feel it doesn’t matter where they are. They will need to learn to know themselves and when they are about to lie, so they can stop themselves before it happens.
We teach strategies at Gentle Path at The Meadows, so our patients know when they are about to lie. With these skills, they are able to make the choice to tell the truth or to catch themselves quickly and correct the lie by saying, “I am sorry; that was a lie. I was at the auto part store.” Other addicts will catch themselves later in the day and then fess-up. We teach them the importance of coming clean about the lie, despite the consequence. If sex addicts are to stay sober, and if they are to earn their loved ones’ trust back, they must learn to tell the truth.
Every journey begins with one step. To learn more about the Gentle Path at The Meadows or if you have an immediate need, please contact us or call 855-333-6076 or go to www.gentlepathmeadows.com.
Amy Sohler, MPA, MA, LMHC, CDP, MHP
What do Isaac Newton and sex addiction treatment have in common? Linear momentum is related to Newton’s second law, which looks at how things gain speed, or ‘kinetic energy’ (the energy of motion). It is the product of the mass and velocity of an object.
Imagine a boulder starting to roll down a hill. It’s a big rock, and it picks up speed as it rolls down. This means it has a large momentum—it takes a large or prolonged force (the hill, the boulders size) to get the rock up to this speed, and it takes a large or prolonged force to bring it to stop afterwards. If the boulder were lighter or moving more slowly, then it would have less momentum. If it just stays at the top of the hill, it takes very little energy to keep it there—it’s planted solid.
Summer is here and for many people warmer weather signifies relaxing days at the beach or swimming pool, bathing suits, tank tops, shorts, and fun in the sun.
However, if you’re struggling with a sex addiction, summer can be a stressful and challenging time of year. Sex addicts may find it difficult to manage their addiction if they find themselves in situations that provoke behaviors they could easily manage during other months of the year. Summer clothing that exposed bare skin, alcohol-fueled parties and casual BBQs could easily set off a trigger for a recovering sex addict.
Often, summer is distinguished by a more casual atmosphere; truncated work days, vacations, and an increased number of social gatherings. For recovering sex addicts who rely on structure and routine to help manage their recovery, this relaxed approach and unexpected opportunities that emerge in their daily lives can cause unwelcome stress.
While most people relish their free time and a lack of restrictions on their day, these situations can test a sex addict’s resolution and create concern of a potential relapse. This stress may bring up feelings of guilt, shame, and poor self-esteem; this is why many sex addicts choose to increase their treatment program involvement or attendance at support groups/meetings.
At Gentle Path at The Meadows, we understand how important it is for sex addicts to talk about issues that may arise during the summer months. As part of the treatment process at Gentle Path, patients create an aftercare plan that outlines what they will do in triggering situations and the support system they will enlist for help when necessary. By preparing and recognizing that these threats to recovery do exist, the recovering sex addict can take positive steps and develop a healthy strategy to address potential issues or situations that arise.
Every journey begins with one step. To learn more about Gentle Path at The Meadows or if you have an immediate need, please contact us at 855-333-6076 or go to www.gentlepathmeadows.com
Sexual addiction is best described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Individuals who suffer from this disorder distance themselves from others through multiple sexual conquests, pornography, compulsive sexual behaviors, and other activities that create a wedge between them and their loved ones, their work, their friends, and anyone else who may find out who they truly are.
At its core, sex addiction is used as the primary or even exclusive method for coping with untreated trauma, unpleasant or disturbing feelings, ideas, conflicts and stresses, to the point where compulsive sex may become almost the only way the individual can relate to or connect with others. Those who suffer from sex addiction tend to organize their world around sex and live in fear that someone will get to know the “real” person inside them—the vulnerable, wounded, fearful person.
Only when a sex addict’s dysfunctional behaviors begin to negatively impact them and their loved ones are they willing to admit they need help combating their issues. Often these individuals will reach out to a professional for help in understanding what they are struggling with. Initially, they may seek out one of the many intensive treatment programs available in order to jump-start the recovery process. These individuals have usually broken through a major portion of the denial that accompanies sexual addiction by the time they seek help.
For sex addicts with a high motivation to change, a short-term, intensive program feeds into that imperative to change with an intensity that parallels the addiction. Treatment programs with a short length of stay—28-30 days—market themselves as a quick fix to develop the skills and tools needed to prevent relapse, or eliminate all sexual acting out behavior. This “quick fix” approach is very appealing to many sex addicts who are anxious to move on with their life. However, when you consider that it likely took years of acting out behaviors in addition to intimacy issues and early attachment problems to get to the breaking point, a short-term or outpatient treatment approach to recovery seems impossible.
Evidence shows that only time heals the scars and shame of sexual addiction. Additionally, a program offering a longer length of stay allows more time to work on underlying core issues and co-occurring disorders which many sexually compulsive individuals often struggle with.
Sexual compulsivity is a treatable problem. Unlike drug or alcohol treatment, the goal of sexual addiction treatment is not lifelong abstinence, but rather a termination of compulsive, unhealthy sexual behavior. Overcoming this disorder involves a period of self-imposed abstinence, requiring a longer treatment process than a typical addiction program might offer.
Gentle Path at The Meadows believes that recovery from sex addiction is different for each patient, and for many, a more intensive level of treatment is needed. For these men, we offer a 45-day minimum length of stay treatment program designed to effectively address the sex addiction and uncover the underlying cause of the dysfunctional behavior. Our experience has shown, over and over again, that individuals who come to us for treatment enter the worst stage of their withdrawal from their sexual addictive behaviors and acting out patterns between the fourteenth and eighteenth day of sobriety. It is during this time that risk of relapse and the desire to return to old behaviors is the highest which inhibits the core treatment process. Our length of stay allows patients to work through the early stages of recovery and progress to meaningful treatment.
Gentle Path at The Meadows’ treatment program was designed specifically to allow adequate time for our patients to experience the full benefit of Dr. Patrick Carnes’ groundbreaking Thirty-Task model which has been empirically validated to be an effective form of treatment for sexually compulsive behavior. Dr. Carnes founded Gentle Path at The Meadows and personally sees each patient during their treatment; another benefit of our length of stay.
Recovery tools can be taught, but reinforcement comes with immersion which is why length of time in treatment usually determines the patient’s success. Individuals who attend, fully engage in, and complete a longer length of stay program, show marked improvement both during and after treatment. They also show an increased ability to bond with their families and the recovery community outside of treatment. The goal of longer-term programs is not to address only the behaviors, but to lead the patients to a change in lifestyle which creates long-term, successful recovery.
Additionally, Gentle Path at The Meadows was specifically designed for men only. We believe that treating sex addicts in a single gender environment allows them to fully engage in treatment. Whereas, in mixed gender programs, both male and female sex addicts may never be removed fully from the object of their desire long enough to fully enter sexual sobriety. This safe setting promotes bonding as patients start to develop the intimacy that has been missing in their lives.
Every journey begins with one step. To learn more about the Gentle Path at The Meadows or if you have an immediate need, please contact us or call 855-333-6076.