About Sex Addiction, sex addiction myths, sex addicts
Most sexually addicted clients enter treatment, whether outpatient, intensive program or residential care, not out of any great desire to be better people, but when facing major life consequences and losses related to their problem sexual behavior. Issues like “my wife found out about my going to sensual massages and made me get help to save our marriage” or “my boss told me if I didn’t get treatment after I got caught viewing porn at work I would be fired” are common reasons that push sex addicts into attending treatment.
As is true with any addiction, whether substance (drugs/alcohol) or behavioral (gambling, sex, overeating etc.), it is the job of the treatment program and the therapy itself to move the addict’s thinking from simply wanting to get out of trouble and solve their immediate problems toward a desire for self-esteem, dignity and honest, open relationships with those around them. This is a challenging task as most addicts are committed to having complete control over their time and actions – whether or not anyone agrees with their choices. Active addicts are closed systems, denying themselves external feedback support and the opportunity for positive change.
The emotional path of most addicts entering the treatment process looks something like this:
Stage One: Oppositional — “I have to do it my way and I will do it my way whether you agree or not. I have no faith in others.”
Stage Two: Resistant — “Ok, I might try it your way, but I’m really going to do it my way. I have little faith that others can help.”
Stage Three: Compliant — “I’ll do what you ask, I’m willing to take and follow directions, even when I don’t agree. I don’t have trust or genuine faith that I can heal or that others can help me, but I’m willing to try.”
Stage Four: Surrender – “I will do whatever it takes to get well. I have made my major life decisions by myself for such a long-time now that I’m tired and let go. I’m willing to believe that I can heal if I take direction and that others can and will help me.”
The therapist’s task of moving the addict’s thinking from covert or overt opposition to surrender is central to the healing process. By letting go of control over how they are perceived and who they allow to get close to them, the addict becomes free from the obsessive loneliness and emptiness that characterizes all active addicts. This necessary transition demonstrates the beginning of basic trust and faith in others, which will keep them sober far longer than any angry spouse or potential loss related to active addiction and is the start of real healing.