Category Archives: Sex addiction

Crossaddiction

Image courtesy of Baitong333 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Baitong333 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When we look back over our drinking careers some of us are often surprised to discover that we weren’t simply alcoholics.
We believed the ‘problem’ was just alcohol and if we stop drinking, then everything else will be fine.
Unfortunately, if you are an alcoholic that’s unlikely to be the case.
Because alcohol isn’t the problem, it’s just a symptom of the problem.
The actual problem is the ‘hole in the soul,’ the emptiness inside of the alcoholic that is so uncomfortable, they seek out booze to ease the discomfort of being in their own skins.
This is the real problem and unless treated, that core emotional pain inside of us, will always demand something to numb it.
To achieve successful sobriety, we have to address the core emotional and spiritual issues, otherwise our brains will seek out other substances or behaviors to numb the pain.

The reason for this is the part of the brain that’s called the ‘pleasure center.’ It is stimulated by pleasurable activities such as eating, sex or gambling as well as by drugs and alcohol. The chemical responsible for this is dopamine. When we use substances we increase the release of dopamine into this area.
Very simply, we know what makes us feels good and when we know what that is; we just want to do more of it.
This chemical reward reinforces these behaviors.

If we just stop using our drug of choice, our brains will look for another substance (or behavior) that make us feel the same way.
Permanent abstinence from mood and mind altering substances is the only way to change this brain chemistry. To maintain this permanent abstinence, we have to come up with a new way of living and dealing with the world; otherwise we will eventually seek the same solution for our problems.
If we are not doing the work necessary to maintain our abstinence, then we are at risk of relapse. Because addiction is sneaky, sometimes we won’t pick up our drug of choice but will pick up another substance instead. Because we had a problem with alcohol, we try and fool ourselves into thinking we didn’t have a problem with marijuana or Xanax, so can safely use these instead.

The concept of cross-addiction is simply this;
If we deprive our addictive nature of its chosen drug, then it will, for a time, settle for a substitute. This substitute doesn’t have to be another substance. It can be a behavior or set of behaviors (e.g., gambling, exercise, shopping, sex etc.).
This is because bizarrely addiction and alcoholism are not about wanting to use drugs or alcohol. It is about numbing pain of the burning hole within us.
If the engine that drives addiction isn’t stopped, then the addict has no choice, than to find something to take the pain of their existence away.

Sometimes people recognize they have a real problem with alcohol and manage to stop drinking. Figuring they’ve cracked the problem, they decided that a little pot smoking would be a good way to relax at the weekends. A little pot turns into a couple of lines of cocaine, which turns into a binge, which brings them back to where they started.

The most important thing to remember, is that addiction and alcoholism don’t stop when the substances are taken away.
The monster still needs feeding and anything will do.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Recovery takes work, focus and dedication. Just like heart disease, diabetes and cancer, full recovery from these diseases takes a lifetime of daily measures, to ensure the disease stays manageable or in remission.
A diabetic can’t just stop managing their diet or injecting insulin, and an addict can’t just stop maintaining their emotional wellbeing.
This sounds like hard work, but really isn’t.
We have forgotten what it’s like to be a kid and learn what it’s like to brush our teeth, wash our face and have a bath. It’s hard work when we are little, but we learn and then these things become second nature. We do these things because it prevents tooth decay and other illnesses, we also feel better physically, in fact we would feel awful if we went about our day without doing any of these things! Daily emotional and spiritual work is exactly the same, just little daily habits that ensure our inner world is ok.
A small price to pay to ensure that we live in the light, rather than the darkness of addiction.

The Relationship Myth – Part 4

Relationships.
The Holy Grail of the human experience.

Every song, every movie, every commercial is selling us the myth of romantic love as the ultimate goal in life. Women are particularly sold on the myth that there is no greater achievement than a relationship with a significant other.

We are sold the lie that romantic love is the solution to any problem. We know it’s a fairy tale, but we can’t help but want it to be true.

Image courtesy of Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Yet, so many of us fail so spectacularly at them. They make us miserable, devastated and heartbroken. How are we getting relationships so wrong?

In the depths of my drinking I truly believed a romantic relationship would save me.
In sobriety, relationships nearly killed me.
At three years sober I was suicidal again. I didn’t want to drink; I didn’t want to drug, I was just making the conscious decision not to commit suicide today.

The collapse of a relationship brought me to my knees.
My insides were burning with the pain of rejection.
My soul was broken.
I didn’t know if I could go on. I was 30 years old and I seriously believed I was destined to spend the rest of my days alone, because I knew I couldn’t go through this amount of pain again.
The thing I thought I wanted the most, I always destroyed, and I couldn’t seem to stop doing it.

It had always been that way with me. Since I was about 13 years old, boys, then men were my Holy Grail. The way a relationship, no matter how brief, made me feel, was like nothing I had ever experienced on earth. It was an intoxicating mix of lust, euphoria, excitement and pain.
It was my cocktail of choice.

Pick up, indulge, drown, and repeat.

I wasted so much of my life on the search for the Holy Grail. It consumed me. It was my reason for being. Because I truly, truly believed it would save me, that those feelings would last forever and I would be home.

The reason I believed this so whole-heartedly is because I’d bought into ‘The Relationship Myth.’
The myth that when you find true love, with that special person who is just right for you, only then, will your life be complete. Everything will be solved; there will be no more pain or loneliness, because your romantic relationship will have fixed everything that is wrong.
Because that’s what happened for Cinderella right?

The reason the myth is so powerful is it sells you the lie that a relationship will be your salvation.

Reinforced by our popular culture, the relationship myth remains powerful because so many of us are lost. Empty on the inside and born without the instruction manual, we stumble around looking for our anchor and the person that will make us ‘whole.’
The most dangerous part of the relationship myth is the belief that another person will ‘save’ us. If only we can meet the right ‘one.’ All will be well.

I would enter into relationships with men under the delusion that they were my salvation. Dazzled by my sexiness and personality all was wonderful for a few weeks, I knew I had finally found what I was looking for. Those feelings of anticipation and hope were my heroin. Inevitably, I would see terror revealed in the eyes of my beloved when they realized the full weight of my expectations.
Unable to fulfill my impossible request they would flee as quickly as they could.
Whilst I stood aghast, watching my hope of salvation crumble.
A few short weeks ago they were dazzled by me, they were obsessed, they thought I was wonderful? Where did that go? I didn’t even see it slip away.
My story of abandonment played over and over.
The day after a breakup I would wake up and see little pieces of my soul crushed upon the floor with no idea of how I was going to keep on living.
Does that sound extreme? Because it was, the search for true love nearly broke me.

When this happened again in my sobriety I knew I was in trouble. Things were meant to be better now I was sober, not worse.
I was more frightened than I had ever been drinking.

But this is what the gift of desperation looks like.
When there is nowhere left to run too, the only place left to go is deep within yourself.
This is where all the answers lie and where salvation truly lives.
It took a shift of perception to see that I wasn’t abandoned and I could save myself.
The solution I had been desperately searching for in other people had actually been within me all the time.
I had to find a way to see things differently. I understood that my faulty belief systems were ensuring I kept repeating my story of abandonment.
But I could change that.
I was left with no choice; continue this painful pattern that had driven me to the brink of suicide or, finally learn the lessons my pain had been trying to teach me all along.

Image courtesy of Theeradech Sanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Theeradech Sanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Only then could I break the spell of the relationship myth and know that I could save myself. Self-love saved me not romantic love.
Romantic love is a blessing in my life but it is no longer my reason for living.
Love thrives when we set it free.

You can read the other parts in this series here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Shame and sex addiction

Shame by Valeria C Preisler

Shame by Valeria C Preisler

I finally got round to watching the movie ‘Shame’ about sex addiction.
It had been recommended to me by several people and I wasn’t disappointed. Michael Fassbender did a stunning job portraying the emotional life of a sex addict. So good, that the movie and it’s haunting images has stayed with me.
I think sex addiction has long been one of those addictions that people scoff at as not being ‘real’. ‘Shame’ really showed how real sex addiction is and how soul destroying it can be for someone caught in its trap.
For a sex addict; sex isn’t fun, loving or intimate it’s just necessary. It’s a necessary act they repeat over and over again.
Because sex is an outward expression of our feelings towards someone and our sexual energy is a very potent force. It is one of the most powerful expressions and releases we have as human beings. Because of this potent force and it’s ability to provide release it can easily become an addiction for someone who has developed no other way of coping with their inner world.
The sex addict then has no authenticity, their sexual expression is not honest or congruent. It is, in fact abusive.
And that is very shameful.
Shame is a toxic and destructive emotion that eats us up from the inside. Shame is the feeling that we are unworthy or wrong because of what we do and therefore who we are.
Because the feeling is so painful, it is natural to seek relief and so the cycle continues.
I have worked with many clients dealing with these issues and the good news is there is a way out if they can seek help.
In the meantime, movie’s like ‘Shame’ can begin to educate people how serious sex addiction can be.