I went to see the movie that came out a few weeks ago called “Thanks for Sharing” that starred Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Rufalo. It was an interesting movie. It followed the stories of 4 people who were sexually addicted. They were hooked up with the Sex Anonymous model of recovery and went to meetings and had a sponsor. All appeared to be success in their careers (until sex addiction disrupted that and the young doctor got fired). The businessman (Mark Rufalo) who traveled seemed to have everything under control, he had just gotten his 5-year token for 5 years of sobriety. His sponsor insisted that he get back into the dating scene, and when he met someone (Gwyneth) and began a relationship–there were multiple challenges–like the inability to really connect on an emotional level. The stress of the relationship triggered things within him that he thought he had under control and when he could not reach his sponsor, he relapsed. All of the stories had similar situations.
The friend that I went to the movie with made the comment that the movie really gave no hope that anyone could recover from sexual addiction. I asked her if she understood why–and she did not. Since I have been through sexual addiction recovery from a partner’s perspective and watched my husband recover and stay recovered–I felt that I had some understanding of why the movie did not give any hope that someone could actually recover. My husband did do the 12 steps, but that was not all he did. SA groups are a great place for accountability and for connecting with others who struggle with sexual addiction. But there is absolutely the necessity of dealing with the triggers and the pain within that drove an individual to sexual addiction in the first place. [ ie: The statistics are that 80% of those that have been sexually abused become sexual addicted or marry sexually addicted people. That would be one trigger (although not the only one).] Those issues of pain on the inside are not going to get addressed in an accountability group and a sponsor generally does not have the expertise to deal with that inner pain. Only an experienced counselor can take someone through that journey. It is curious that all of the people in the movie actually had the financial wherewithal to go to counseling–but none did.
Gary, as a recovered sex addict and a counselor has developed a three-pronged approach to addiction recovery:
- Freedom from–doing whatever it takes to get sober from your acting out behaviors. Accountability may involve going to 90 meetings in 90 days. Boundaries established to set up healthier places.
- Victory over–addressing the triggers and the pain on the inside that brought the individual to addiction and this moment in time. This will include looking at family of origin issues, trauma points and fears.
- New Hope for a future apart from an identity with addiction–the AA model keeps people in that perpetual loop of an identity with addiction. We believe that recovery and the grace of God can bring people to a new identity and that is one of health and wholeness.
It is absolutely possible to recover from sexual addiction–but it is necessary to get help. That piece called denial makes it very difficult to have effective self-directed recovery. Often we cannot see past the denial to have a true reality about what we are dealing with–and we need that objective counselor to see into us and help to facilitate the way out of the wilderness of our soul where addiction often leads us.
There are strategies for healing from addiction.
If you or someone you know is struggling with sexual addiction, call us–we can help. 303-564-2723.