Praise Addiction and Sex Addiction – Dangerous Together.

 

I have been in a recovery program for eight years now, in counseling just as long, and it’s taken me this long to realize that I the addiction I have to sex is compounded by a less known and understood addiction. I have an addiction to praise. In this post, I’ll discuss how they work together to create the equivalent of a sexual speedball, making the joint addiction stronger than each part separately. This post will be anecdotal, but I will do another post which addresses the brain chemistry of these joint addictions.

I did not come to my sex addiction through abuse, like many of the people I have met through the program, at least not through direct abuse. Through my middle school and high school years, I was ostracized by most of my peers for being different. I only had a few friends during this time.

The praise of women, and their subsequent sexual surrender, acted like a drug on me. If a woman liked me, it created mania in me. The sexual act, and the actual orgasm, reinforced this feeling. The interaction of these two things made my addiction very powerful, and affected my inability to have non-sexual close relationships with women.

The absence of the praise made the sexual component much weaker. Masturbation or sex with escorts always left me feeling depressed. Even sex with my spouse felt less powerful when she was not providing praise.

This need for praise has been a character defect of mine, and makes me vulnerable to the advances of others.  In the past, there were some women who knew this, and used it to their own aims. On my end, I am guilty of manipulating people to praise me.

In my time in the program, I have witnessed other addicts with this same issue. Some have explained to me that it was the praise that was essential, the offer of sex was enough for them to get their high.

The recognition of my praise addiction, and the interplay with sex addiction, has started me on a new facet of my recovery.  It has been difficult, but I have discussed this with my spouse. I think honest praise is still important, and I’d like to receive it for doing the right things for people who are important to me.

I’d welcome comments and shares on this.

 

Turning Off the Inner Triggers

Many of us know that when there is a physical trigger that may cause us to act out, it is best to avoid it. The best time to avoid a trigger is before it is available, like not watching a sexually suggestive TV show,  not reaching out to former acting out partners, and not  going to places associated with our acting out behavior.

A trigger can cause a reaction, a negative one (usually associated with going with the behavior), or a positive one, (fighting against the trigger), which brings us to a safer place.

I’ve left places where there were women that have triggered me. I’ve turned off the TV when something suggestive triggered me. But one area I’ve failed to act on in the past were inner triggers, caused by my own thoughts.

In the past, I was driven to dark places by my own thoughts, because I let suggestive thoughts stay active in my head, and dwelled upon them.  This in turn, caused a negative reaction, which lead to my acting out.

Now, I avoid letting lustful thoughts ferment in my mind. The good thing is that I know I can only think about one thought at a time, and this can be the lustful thought in my mind, or it can be the replacement that I choose to add.

What do I replace those sexual thoughts with?  I first go to gratitude, for all the things that recovery has helped me with. I’ve been able to keep my marriage, and stay with my family, and watch my children grow. I no longer have to live a double life. I’m grateful for the people in the program who help me.

This naturally progresses into prayer. Thanking God, My Higher Power,  for the love He has shown me, His grace, and His forgiveness.

Finally, I think about the other tools that are available to me, like calling someone, and use those tools when necessary.

This has gone a long way in helping me be sexually sober, and I hope it helps others who need help.

Things I Wish I Knew Earlier – My mistakes, so you can avoid them. #1 You are not an addict. YOU ARE a person with an addiction.

I have been in the SAA program for over 3 1/2 years, and thanks to SAA, My Higher Power, and good counseling and hard work, have been able to keep my marriage, family and children. I am not perfect, but I am better, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to help others with this program

I’ve made a number of mistakes along the way. Some serious enough to really delay my recovery. It is with these things in mind that I write this series of blog posts. I hope that some of you will be able to have a faster change in your life, and understand recovery better,by reading about my mistakes, and avoiding learning them yourself.

Mistake #1: Hi My Name is Paul and I am NOT a sex addict. I AM a person with a sexual addiction, and I’m in recovery.

I have all the admiration for 12 step programs in the world, after all, I have been brought back from the brink with the help of one. But I have one major criticism of the program, and not realizing this issue hurt my recovery for quite some time.

One of the important things about 12 Step Programs is that  they arei a fellowship. You are in a room with people who are in different stages of fighting the same demons that you fight. With that in mind, the beginning of the meetings begin with each person saying their same, and they acknowledging that they are an addict. “Hi, my name is Paul, and I am a sex addict”

The Buddha said “You are what you think”, and for my first two years of the program, I thought about, and was, a sex addict. A sex addict to me was a person who should be ashamed and depressed, and who should not feel good about themselves. This negative perception of myself caused a great deal of stagnation with my recovery.

Contrary to what SAA or any 12 step program has you say, I’m here to tell you that.
YOU ARE NOT AN ADDICT. YOU ARE A PERSON, A GOOD PERSON, WHO HAS AN ADDICTION… and you, unlike many other people, are working to control this addiction. Do not be shamed about your addiction, be proud that you are dealing with your addiction.

I do not introduce myself as a sex addict at meetings. Instead I introduce myself as a recovering sex addict. It may not make a difference to you, but it makes all the difference in the world  to me.

I think Bill W,,  when he started AA, wanted everyone in the rooms to greet each other this way to show us that we all come to these rooms with the same problems, and that we are all fighting and struggling with it.  It was obviously with good intention.

But if you step into a 12 step program, you are already different than those outside of the rooms, because:

  • You know you have a problem
  • You are beginning the process of fighting it.

You are not the person who has not recognized or decided it wasn’t worth the effort to fight their addiction. You are someone who has stood up, and said “I am better than my addiction. I am asking my Higher Power to help me.”

The second part of that quote from Buddha, “You are what you think” is “and with your thoughts, you make the world”. Addicts don’t make the world, they destroy it. Recovering addicts try to repair their destruction, and help those around them conquer their demons.

Coming next “Pain is not a good long term motivator”

Getting Recovery Done- GTD, Recovery, and Relapse Prevention

Hi, my name is Paul, and I’m a recovering Sex Addict. I’m also a Getting Things Done fanatic. For those that don’t know, Getting Things Done is a methodology for improved productivity and time management, developed by a fellow named David Allen.

I’m not going to waste the bits to talk about the GTD methodology. If you google GTD, you’ll find tons of information, or grab a copy of the book Getting Things Done. It’s probably at your library, as it’s been around a while.

There are several computer programs that use GTD for just about any platform out there. I ended up choosing a program called DOIIT.IM, because for me, it worked on the platforms I needed, and wasn’t too expensive at $20 bucks a year. (BTW, they do offer both a free Web-only version, and a 30 day trial of the full version, if you want to check it out.)

I do want to focus on addiction and GTD. How can implementing a program like GTD help the addict stay in recovery.

In Chapter 12 of the book Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsession, and Shame, authors George Collins and Andrew Adelman discuss the concept of “First Thought Wrong”. Unlike the spontaneous thinkers in Gladwell’s Blink, the intuition of the addict is flawed. By default, they will, without thinking, gravitate towards their addiction. The goal of a good recovery program should be to put space in between the flawed intuitive reaction, so that the addict can stop, think, and pursue alternatives.

With a GTD system in place, the addict can always turn to a list of alternatives to acting out, things that will be positive and move him towards a planned project or goal.  Instead of wasting time acting out, the addict is given a choice to use time effectively.

GTD is also positive for the addict because it helps her reduce the stress with trying to juggle too many things in the head, and the resultant crash. Finally, GTD can assist with the planning of time to work on recovery as a goal.

I stumbled upon this by accident, and I felt that it would be good to share with others moving from shame to grace. If you’d like any help with GTD or recovery, please feel free to reach out to me.

 

 

Dr. Ley and “The Myth of Sex Addiction”. Dangerous Medicine

I regularly read the various scholarly journals and popular press on articles related to addiction. Psychology Today is regularly included in my studies. It is disconcerting to me that the major contributor at the magazine on articles related to sex addiction doesn’t believe that it is a bona fide diagnosis. To those who are suffering from this disorder, and looking for help, this can be a very dangerous message.

Dr. David Ley is the author of “The Myth of Sex Addiction”, a controversial book that is based on the premise that Sex Addiction, unlike substance abuse, is not a disease. It would not be fair of me to review the book at this time, because I have not read it. (I have requested a copy through my library, and will post specifically on the book after I do read it)

It is fair game for me to comment on an article that Dr. Ley posted on Psychology Today, titled, “The Profit in Sex Addiction”. where he views sex addition as being a diagnosis created largely for the gain of for-profit rehabilitation centers. He argues that because leaders in the field of sex addiction, like Patrick Carnes and Steven Arteburn make a living off of their work, that they are not objective advocates for the field of sex addiction.

Dr. Ley neglects to mention that he doesn’t do his own work out of the goodness of his heart, in fact, he is considered by the media as one of the “go to” people for the contrarian view that sex addiction is not a valid diagnosis.

The thesis that sex addiction does not exist because there are people making a profit off it is flawed and dangerous. Sex addiction does exist, without a doubt to all of those people who regularly attend 12 Step Meetings like those of SAA and SA. Denying that this is a problem denies people a chance at salvaging lives that were destroyed by inappropriate sexual conduct. Although these people are powerless themselves over their sexual compulsions, many have effectively changed their lives with the help of the group, their sponsors, and a Higher Power.

Many of those who are addicted need help, and those with the financial means may chose ways to replace or supplement the benefits they receive from being part of a 12 Step Program. Like substance addiction, some of these people enter for-profit programs. That a program is for-profit does not necessarily make it bad (it doesn’t necessarily make it good, however).

It’s not correct to write off sex addiction as fake because there are some charlatans out there. Nor is it right to write off sex addiction because some people who aren’t addicts hide behind the diagnosis to justify inappropriate behavior. There are many otherwise good people who struggle with this problem, and many who are able to change their lives with help. I sincerely hope that the thoughts of those like Dr. Ley. dissuade those out there who need help from getting it.

More work needs to be done in this field. As of yet, there are neurological studies that deal primarily with sex addiction. The arguments that pro sex-addiction therapists give regarding addiction and brain chemistry (affecting dopamine levels. oxytocin levels, and pathway changes) have not been studied directly with sexual addiction, because this research is not being funded.

What we do have are lots and lots of people, who, despite their own self will, are unable to manage their sexual behaviors. Lives are lost, marriages are destroyed, and financial hardship is endured because of sex addiction.

We also have lots and lots of people who find treatment works for them, with a 12 step program, and/or other kinds of therapy.  Let’s keep that door open, until the science proves otherwise. I’m almost certain it won’t.