Sex Addiction & Attachment
I believe that sex addiction counselors need to (re)think about addiction differently than we have in the past. Human beings have been created to possess an inborn need to bond and connect with others. When we are feeling safe, happy and healthy, we will bond with the people around us.
When we don’t feel safe, loved, seen, or soothed; we will turn to something or someone that will give us relief from the pain of loneliness. Relief could be as simple as endlessly checking our smart phones or it might be pornography, video games, social media, gambling, or drugs. We will bond with something because that is our human nature.
Sex Addiction Not About Sex
Pornography or other sexual acting out behaviors act on the same opioid receptors that are activated when we are in close connection. I communicate that sex addiction is not about sex but rather a shortcut to a counterfeit relationship. If a person did not grow up in a family environment learning that relationships are safe and that others can be counted on to meet his needs, it makes perfect sense how a counterfeit partner (i.e., pornography) can be an alluring substitute to real relationships.
Sex Addiction: Counterfeit Partner
Oxytocin (often referred to as the cuddle hormone,) is a feel-good chemical released organically by the brain when humans lovingly connect with other people. Sexual acting out with pornography, prostitutes, or even a sensual massage come close to resembling the bonding with others, but always leave him or her wanting more, something deeper, and feeling empty. The counterfeit partner promises what it cannot deliver and reinforces the need for real connection.
Sex Addiction Recovery: We Not Me
In recovery groups, treatment centers, and addiction counseling, we often only hear about “individual recovery” but the research indicates that we (field of recovery) need to design recovery programs that emphasizes connection, empathy, acceptance, encouragement, support, validation, and especially building healthy relationships. On a larger scale, we (especially western culture) will need to change as a society the way we live and rediscover each other.
Opposite Of Sex Addiction Is Connection
The opposite of sex addiction is not sexual sobriety (or sexual abstinence). The opposite of sex addiction is authentic connection. Those struggling with addiction (especially sexual addiction) need to be placed into a relationship in which he/she feels that other(s) will be there to meet his/her needs when he calls. The addict needs to feel seen, safe, and soothed. I believe this is the real essence of the 12-step fellowship program and why sponsors are so valuable for an addict’s recovery. True intimacy can be described as “Into-Me-You-See and you accept me anyways!”
Sex Addiction Recovery Requires Connection
Jim Thomas explains, “We do best when we live in a world where we have at least one really close, vulnerable connection with another person. That’s also how we can be most autonomous and successful in the world, when we have that bond. And how many people struggling with addiction are mentally saying, ‘I have to do this myself, I have to willpower my way through this?’ And not just people in recovery—also at work and in their personal life.”
Sex Addiction Counseling
I fully understand the struggle of sexual addiction. It feels like you are completely out of control but deeply fear sharing with another because you will be judged and rejected. I want you to know that I will never judge you. My job is to create an environment of safety, acceptance, and to help you understand that your real need is not more sex but real relationship. Your need to be fully known and fully loved as you are. I get it! Call me today to setup an appointment to begin your journey of healing and recovery. I can help you!