By Jerry Law D.Min, MDAAC, CIP, Program Director of Family Education and Leadership Training for Meadows Behavioral Healthcare
Dave and Sue were immediately hit with that sinking feeling in the gut having received a call that their son was arrested for solicitation of a sex worker.
Dr. Georgia Fourlas, LCSW, LISAC, CSAT
Clinical Director of Rio Retreat Center Workshops at The Meadows
“Are my sexual behaviors really a problem?”
Some people clearly know the answer to that question, even if they refuse to admit it. Other people are not so sure.
Marie Woods, LMFT, CSAT
Primary Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows
The recent movie premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey has caused quite the media stir, and I think we can all agree that it’s got a lot of people talking. In many ways, it has provided a valuable opportunity to reflect on where we each stand in regards to relational intimacy. As a therapist specializing in sex addiction, I hear my patients talk about sexual development, sexual trauma, relationships and compulsive behavior on a daily basis. The current media stir provides an ideal platform to elicit authentic, open, honest, and sometimes difficult discussions about sex-related topics, including relationships.
For sex addicts, skewed messages about sex and relationships have often been imprinted in their brains from a very early age. Many sex addicts had either too much or too little sex education during their developmental years. It was either explicitly stated or implied that talking about sex was unacceptable, so such individuals may have internalized messages like “sex is bad” or “sex is secret.” This lack of meaningful dialogue on this important subject is one of the biggest barriers to authentic intimacy.
For many individuals, therapy is the first time they’ve ever truly discussed the concept of intimacy and what defines healthy sexuality. Unfortunately, many individuals completely separate sex from intimacy. They don’t understand that true intimacy is developed through meaningful emotional interactions that enhance and enrich sexuality. In the case of sex addiction, such conversations and questions often means working through deep pain and confronting the consequences of maladaptive behavior that has gone on for far too long.
Even though our culture is full of sexual messages, it does not provide accurate sexual education. It fails to highlight the importance of emotional intimacy as it relates to sexuality. It does not underscore the value of human connection that is at the very root of sex and intimacy.
The cultural impact of Fifty Shades of Grey opens the door for discussions and opinions about the relationship between sexuality and emotional intimacy. We should be grateful for such growth opportunities despite our opinions on the subject. Such discussion allows us to dig deep into our core and evaluate our thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs – and stand firmly in our sense of self. What happens in this process is that we truly come to know ourselves and have more meaningful relationships with others. With these insights and understandings, each of our lives grows richer, and we are stronger as a collective community when we are practicing this kind of authenticity in relationships with others.
Every journey begins with a single step. Through an array of time-tested modalities, we’ll give you the tools to develop healthy relationships. You’ll have these tools with you for the rest of your life. We want to see you and your loved ones prosper and thrive. For more information on sex addiction, contact us here or call an Intake Coordinator at 800-244-4949.
By Amy Sohler, MPA, MA, LMHC, CDP, MHP
Current research in the field of sex addiction is revealing with utmost certainty that sexual addiction is just like any other addiction. It involves the dopamine response just like alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, shopping addiction, and any other process addiction. Such addictions all reside in the same part of the brain, so should be treated as such. What’s difficult and most challenging about sex addiction is that many people don’t see it as a “legitimate” addiction. Therefore, it has a stigma attached to it when in reality it’s no different than more “publicized” addictions.
Many people ask how they can determine whether they have the process addiction known as sexual addiction. Theorists in the field explain that there are 3 areas that they assess to identify whether someone should be treated for sexual addiction. The framework for addiction is comprised of the 3C's (1) craving; (2) loss of control; and (3) negative consequences. If your behavior as a potential sex addict meets these 3 criteria, then it is likely that you need to be seen by a Certified Sexual Addictions Therapist who can further assess your behaviors and determine a treatment plan that will best assist you and your family in getting help. Let's imagine that you spend hours on the internet and you wake up thinking about pornography, think about it during your work day and go to bed with the fantasies of what you have viewed. This, very simply meets the criteria for craving. Most addicts take more advanced risks with porn and they purposely try to "steal" opportunities to get a quick fix...wife jumps in the shower and you hop on the internet before work. Or maybe you purposely leave late so that you can spend 20 minutes getting your fix only to find that 20 minutes turned into an hour and 20 minutes which then means you don't get to take your shower and you spend your entire drive time making up excuses as to why you were late (again) for work. Perhaps you got a smart phone and you find yourself isolating at work or going out to your car instead of eating with your buddies because you would prefer checking the sites to see what is new. The allure of finding things that are new keeps your brain craving more opportunities for porn.
And as the addiction worsens you find yourself giving into the addiction. You tell yourself 100 times that you won't get on Craig's list or that you will stop being a voyeur or that you won't check in with the newest porn site and then no matter how much you mean it, you succumb to its seduction and you are right back where you started or worse....staying up all night to chat with other adults in the chat rooms or you sneak out after church to head to the new massage parlor. It is baffling how you could be so addicted to the behaviors that you love and hate at the same time.
And then it happens. The wife gets a call from your mistress or your children find your emails or you are arrested for prostitution and you hate yourself because you have not only ruined your life but you have tarnished the family's ideal of what a father should stand for.... you become so despondent that you promise never to act out again and then the despair which is part of the addiction cycle begs for medication and you use your sexual addiction to medicate the pain that was created by the sexual addiction and the cycle continues.
Despite the negative consequences, you continue to act out until you find the resources that are strong enough to ally with you to fight this battle. That might look like a specialist ----- a trained certified sexual addiction therapist who can help you navigate to the right resources. That might be a workshop designed to give you the basic principles to maneuver you into recovery. That might be the 12 Step Program where you can find men who have been where you are at and want to help you find the 12 step formula that can guide you into an improved life. Or it may require a hospitalization in an addiction facility that has a specialized treatment program that will help you to heal your wounds and heal your life.
Ask yourself if you are a victim of the 3 C's and if it sounds like I am describing your life, you need to address this now because it never gets better without outside resources and specialized services. You deserve to be free of this compulsion and replace it with a healthy sense of yourself, your behaviors for YOU and your family.