Pornography & Sex Addiction

 

Pornography Addiction Help

Sexual intimacy can be one of the most elevating and joyous of human experiences. But for many, sexuality has become a source of guilt, conflict, and bondage.

Sexual compulsions and addictions are a widespread problem in modern society. Men, women, and even children are becoming caught in diverse compulsive or addictive sexual behaviors.

These behaviors include the use of pornography, compulsive masturbation, electronic devices for “virtual sex,” sexual or emotional infidelity, anonymous sex, dangerous or illegal sexual practices, and sexual fetishes. These sexual problems may be oriented toward the opposite sex, the same sex, or both.

Sexual addiction may be described as the loss of control of sexual behavior, which worsens over time. People with sexual addiction literally cannot stop the continual intensification of their sexual acting out, even when their behavior violates their values and perhaps has cost them their job, relationships, financial security, or even their freedom.

In contrast with sexual addiction, compulsive sexual behavior is not unmanageable in the way that sexual addiction is. Although people with sexual compulsions usually can’t stop their sexual behavior without help, the behavior doesn’t worsen over time, and its consequences tend not to be as extreme as for the sexually addicted person. Compulsive sexual behavior may remain essentially the same for many years.

Pathways to Addiction

Sex addiction help in salt lake cityIn order to provide meaningful help to people who have become caught in these situations, we must first suspend our judgments and instead, try to understand the pathway that led them there. As with drug and alcohol addiction, the sexually compulsive or addicted person doesn’t intend to become entrapped. The pathway is always unanticipated—sometimes even accidental.

There are four main pathways into sexual compulsion or addiction. Some individuals will progress along just one of these pathways while other people will experience elements from two or more of these pathways.

The first pathway begins with curiosity, experimentation, or expressions of natural desire. A person might discover pornography by accident then find it very difficult to stop looking. Or maybe he is curious about his own body, the bodies of others of his own sex or the opposite sex, or about sexuality in general. His curiosity may lead him to search online for pictures or information, which leads him to pornography. Another person might quite innocently stimulate herself for the pleasurable and soothing feelings it creates, only to discover that she can’t resist experiencing that pleasure again and again.

Once behaviors like these have become established, some people will continue them, unchanged, for a very long time. Others will discover that they want more and more and will become unable to resist branching out to other, more stimulating behaviors.

The second pathway begins with sexual abuse, which can be defined as being used by another person for their sexual stimulation against your will or in opposition to your initial desires. Some survivors of sexual abuse find themselves drawn to repeat the abusive behavior, or other sexual behavior, again and again, leading to a compulsion or addiction.

The third pathway develops from a lack of strong connection with parents. Children who don’t receive sufficient emotional closeness and comfort from their parents experience something called “attachment loss.” Since it is from the nurturing bond with parents that children learn how to handle their own emotions, these children become unable to deal with feelings like sadness, anger, fear, and even joy. They may also become unable to handle intimacy with others. Instead, they will tend to experience all emotions and intimacy as distressing. To compensate, these children learn to rely on external influences for comfort and soothing. They become very prone to addition.

The fourth pathway begins with shame. Children raised in households where shame is prevalent—or who have been sexually abused—learn to control themselves and hide their imperfections to avoid the rejection or punishment they’re sure will come if they are seen for who they really are. But they can only maintain such a tight and isolating grip on themselves for so long before they need to release and let go.

People who’ve experienced sexual abuse, attachment loss, and shame often learn to manage their negative feelings through masturbation or fantasy. They also learn to keep their inner lives, especially their sexual behavior, a secret, which intensifies their isolation, increases their distress, and feeds their shame. So they turn more and more frequently or intensely to sexual behavior for the comfort and sense of intimacy it falsely provides.

Our computer culture creates countless counterfeit connections, leaving us empty and compulsively drawn to temporary highs.  Connections uses specific methods of recovery to help you consistently reconnect with real people, your God, and His creations and purpose for you.  We help establish the roots of a fulfilling life and satisfying relationships. Connections with the real facilities; disconnection from the unreal. 

Begin this process today in a safe, confidential setting. Call us today at 801.272.3420.

The Effect on Families

Sex Addiction HelpSexual compulsion and addiction impacts more than just the person experiencing it. Parents of young people caught in these problems may feel deep concern or distress about their child’s problems. They may also feel helpless and hopeless. Few parents have the capacity to set aside their own distress about the child’s problems so they can accurately understand and appropriately intervene in their child’s dilemma. As a result, missteps are often made.

Partners of those under the influence of compulsive or addictive sexuality typically experience strong or even extreme distress. Feelings of anger, shame, and betrayal are very normal. The sense of loss can be very strong. Sometimes the partner’s own underlying insecurities are brought to the surface by their loved one’s infidelity. And often, the partner blames herself or himself for the loved one’s behaviors.

In marriages where one partner has a sexual compulsion or addiction, we often see the development of an emotional and relational feedback loop. These feedback loops work like this: the partner with the sexual compulsion or addiction enters the marriage already experiencing difficulties handling intimacy and emotions for the reasons described above. This creates distance and distress in the relationship with the spouse, who then responds with negative emotions and behaviors such as becoming angry and controlling or pulling away out of hurt. This intensifies the feelings of isolation, distress, and shame for the partner who has the compulsion or addiction. That partner then turns to his or her addiction even more fervently and the loop intensifies. These loops can be devastating to relationships and to entire families.

Why Is It So Hard to Overcome?

Sexual compulsions and addictions tend to be extremely difficult to overcome. Several factors contribute to this. First of all, most types of sexual compulsion or addiction can be engaged in with little difficulty. Our minds and bodies are always with us allowing us to lust, fantasize, or masturbate almost whenever we want to. Pornography can be accessed in a few clicks. Technology makes finding willing sexual partners simple. Accessibility alone makes it difficult to become free of sexual compulsivity and addiction.

In addition to the challenges caused by accessibility, individuals are often thwarted in their attempts to recover from compulsive and addictive sexual behavior because they don’t take an aggressive enough therapeutic approach. They may try to do it on their own or with the help of just a support group. They usually focus their attention and efforts on trying to stop the behavior rather than dealing with the issues that underlie the addiction. This approach underestimates the power of the compulsion or addiction and the complexity of the underlying issues supporting it.

How We Can Help

The foundation of a good recovery program is the effective application of proven methods within the security of non-judgmental and compassionate therapeutic relationships. With that foundation, virtually anything can be accomplished.

Based on that foundation, our specific approach to recovery from sexual compulsion and addiction involves a combination of three essential pieces:

    1. Therapy for the individual
    2. Therapy for the partner, the couple, and the family, where applicable
    3. Community-based 12-step groups

While inpatient treatment programs range in cost from $6,000 to $19,000 per month, our program is not only effective, but also very cost efficient.

Our program includes the five elements associated with long-term recovery in 95% of cases. We tailor a personalized program including individual, group, and couples work (for those with spouses).

The time, life, and reality-based focus that is regained by graduates of the Connections Program of Recovery facilitates you and your spouse becoming transitional persons that can enjoy peace now and pass on healing and healthy relationships to future generations.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is essential for the person with the addiction or compulsion. During the first stage of therapy we take a full assessment of his or her situation and the therapeutic issues that need to be addressed. After this, the focus shifts to creating stability, safety, and behavioral controls, which are foundational for achieving sobriety. Also during this stage, the individual is helped to find new ways of responding to his or her emotions without resorting to addictive behavior.

Once the individual is able to maintain sobriety (with lots of support), therapy will proceed into the deeper issues that underlie the addiction. For this work, we employ a therapeutic modality called “Brainspotting,” which accesses the unconscious mind and nervous system. Neurologically, the issues that typically underlie addiction are lodged in multiple structures within the brain, including conscious parts where memories and beliefs are stored and unconscious parts where emotions and bodily senses are held.

The most common forms of therapy, which are talk therapy and behavior modification techniques, tend to have limited therapeutic effect on addiction because they access only the most conscious part of the brain. In contrast, Brainspotting accesses and clears very deep levels of memory, bringing lasting recovery.

While Brainspotting is an extremely powerful and effective form of psychotherapy, it is also extremely gentle. It marshals deep levels of internal resources, which greatly strengthen the individual to face therapeutic challenges. And it allows the person to proceed at a pace that is just right for his or her needs.

Therapy for the Partner

The partner of the person with the compulsion or addiction has his or her own therapeutic concerns to address and it is essential that he or she do so. For the partner, individual therapy may focus on any or all of the following:

  • Healing from shame and isolation and learning to ask for and receive support
  • Creating safety and learning to handle the sometimes intense emotions that come up during the recovery process
  • Learning tools for handling the challenges that continue to arise during the long process of their loved one’s recovery, including maintaining boundaries and getting their needs met
  • Recovering from the trauma created by their loved one’s compulsion or addiction
  • Recovering from trauma and other issues they acquired before their relationship with the compulsive or addicted loved one

Therapy for the partner follows similar stages as for the person with the compulsion or addiction. We begin with a careful assessment of the partner’s background and needs. We then focus on helping the partner learn the tools necessary to create stability and safety for herself or himself. We also help the partner find beneficial ways of responding to the emotions that often arise during this process.

Most partners also need a to do some deeper work to process trauma and other issues related to their loved one’s compulsion or addiction. And some partners need to process and resolve issues they developed before their relationship with the compulsive or addicted person. We use Brainspotting to process all of these deeper issues.

Couples Therapy

Marriage and Family TherapyAt various points in the recovery process, the couple will also need to work on their relationship in therapy.

Early on, couples therapy will focus on basics like boundaries, commitments, and safety in the relationship. Later the couple’s work will focus on resolving the relational damage caused by the compulsion or addiction. The final stage of their work will focus on developing the relationship in positive directions so they can thrive as a couple.

For couples work, we use a type of therapy called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), which increases the bond between partners by exploring emotions, reactions, interrelationships, and behaviors in a non-judgmental and secure environment. This process fosters connection and authentic intimacy between the partners.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is known to be very effective in treating addiction. As mentioned above, addiction is often rooted in attachment loss. Addictive behavior may be used as a replacement for the warmth, comfort, and connection that were missing in the parent-child relationship. As Dr. Gabor Maté aptly stated, addictions are “poor substitutes for love.” This can especially be true with sexual addiction since sexuality is a natural way for us to experience the feelings associated with love.

Family therapy can help to repair attachment injuries and disconnections that occurred in early life and that continue in adulthood. When it is possible and safe to do so, working with the family system in which the addicted person was raised can help heal the disconnection between family members, contributing to healing for all of them.

Community-Based 12-Step Groups for Addicts

The third piece of our recovery program is to encourage individuals to access the support, fellowship, and wisdom of community-based 12-step groups. Below are the main options.

Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). The SA program is based on the belief that all lust and sexual expression outside of marriage become progressively addictive and destructive. The program aims at helping the participant become entirely abstinent of these behaviors. To find SA meetings in Utah, you can email (saico@sa.org) them or call:

    Salt Lake City 1-801-893-2315
    Utah County 801-802-8380

Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA). SAA is very similar to SA, except that the recovering addict creates his or her own definition of abstinence. You can find local SAA meetings here.

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA). SLAA is a 12-step program for compulsive and addictive sexuality as well as for love addiction, dependency on romantic attachments, emotional dependency, and sexual, social, and emotional anorexia. You can find local Utah SLAA meetings here.

Community-Based 12-Step Groups for Family Members

Partners and other family members of individuals with sex addiction often find that they need the support and guidance of a 12-step program. Below are the main options.

S-Anon. S-Anon is a 12-step program of recovery for those who have been affected by someone else’s sexual behavior. You can find Utah S-Anon meetings here.

COSA. COSA is a 12-step based recovery program for men and women whose lives have been affected by someone else’s compulsive sexual behavior, whether or not that person is currently in their life. You can find local COSA meetings here.

Our program includes the five elements associated with long-term recovery in 95% of cases. We tailor a personalized program including individual, group, and couples work (for those with spouses).

The time, life, and reality-based focus that is regained by graduates of the Connections Program of Recovery facilitates you and your spouse becoming transitional persons that can enjoy peace now and pass on healing and healthy relationships to future generations. We help establish the roots of a fulfilling life and satisfying relationships. Connections with the real facilities; disconnection from the unreal. 

Call Us Today to See How We Can Help You 801.272.3420