By Heidi Kinsella, MA, LMHCA, NCC, ASAT
Family Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows
When I came to work as a therapist at Gentle Path at The Meadows, I quickly discovered that this treatment center was special and provided patients with a different kind of experience than anything I had previously known. Dr. Patrick Carnes is a world-renowned authority on sex addiction and treatment and the primary architect of the Gentle Path at The Meadows program. He believes that we need to diagnosis and treat all addictive disorders, as well as mood and personality disorders. Dr. Carnes’ methodology is integrated with The Meadows Model, to address sex addiction and trauma concurrently. This approach is groundbreaking and provides patients with comprehensive care that gives them the opportunity to have quality, long-term sobriety and a happy, productive life.
When I was nine years old, my mom got sober then became a drug and alcohol counselor. It was the mid-70s, and the chemical dependency field was just developing. The common belief at that time was that the addiction must be treated before any other issues could be addressed; this belief continues and is a paradigm that many treatment centers still use.
I remember hearing stories from my mom, or her friends who worked in the field at the time, that their patients were often engaging in sexual activities in the bushes. The counselors would simply tell them to stop without reasoning that there may be another addiction that needed to be considered. This was a time before research showed that the same chemicals that light up the pleasure center in the brain, when using drugs or alcohol, do the same thing for process addictions, like sex, gambling, shopping, work, and eating. The counselors had no way of knowing that their patients may have been getting high in a different way, right there in treatment.
As I work with the patients at Gentle Path at The Meadows, I think to myself, “I wish this kind of treatment would have been available when I got sober in 1989.” Our patients do rigorous work creating a timeline depicting their addictions and mood disorders. They also participate in The Meadows’ signature Survivors Week to identify trauma that may have influenced their need to numb their feelings through maladaptive behaviors that eventually led to addiction.
I know for me, recovery has been like a game of “whack a mole!” I addressed my chemical addiction, but developed love addiction as I reached out to men to fill that hole inside. That addiction led me through a string of unhealthy relationships, including marrying a sex addict where I acted out with rage and experienced high levels of depression and anxiety. Even though, I was sober from my alcoholism, my life became very unmanageable, and I didn’t understand why. I was working the steps; I had the sponsor, a home group, and services positions. I was doing everything I was told to do. What I didn’t realize was that my brain was still living in active addiction because I had only addressed one of my many issues.
Eventually, the pain led me to reach out and find a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, who helped me address my trauma, depression, anxiety, codependency, love addiction and my maladaptive response to living with a sex addict. I often wonder if I had the chance to look at my childhood traumas along with my other issues early on in recovery, if I would have made different choices and avoided a lot of the chaos and pain in my early years of sobriety. I look at our patients and think, “Wow, they so fortunate to receive this level of care!” Brain science in the addiction field has come a long way, and Gentle Path at the Meadows is on the cutting-edge. However, we must not stop here—there is more work to be done and research is currently being conducted. Dr. Carnes has established the American Foundation for Addiction Research to continue this important work which will benefit our patients at Gentle Path. You can find out more information on this foundation at www.addictionresearch.com.
If you are struggling with any addiction, or multiple forms of addiction, depression, PTSD, or anxiety, we can help. Recovery is possible! You don’t have to live this way anymore. 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.
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