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Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Other Addictions

Sexual Sobriety – “Not even beer?”

A reader asks:  Thank you so much for addressing the issue. 
What's the solution? 
Not to look at porn all? 
I know it's a stupid question. 
Not much different than "not even beer?" 
I’m just so scared, even with all the security and anonymity of this site, opening up is so scary.
 I know what John Meyer means.
 It's the chase. It's all that time spent that the next "one" is gonna be the right "clip", but before I accept it as "the one", I tell myself "there must be something a little better than this", and get back to searching.
 After all that search, before i know it, hours have passed.
 Or it's morning already..
. A rosy pink picture!

Thank you for writing and validating that I’m neither talking into a vacuum nor spewing a bunch of hogwash. Internet porn addiction is real, it hurts, and this is what it looks like.  A lot like cocaine addiction, really, what with hearing the birds singing and realizing it’s morning and you’ve overshot the mark on more time.
The good news: Sexual sobriety does not mean either celibacy or spinsterhood.  The bad news: Yeah, you’re probably going to have to stop jacking off to porn.  Sorry.
As you guessed, the solution that seems to work best for this addiction is, indeed, the 12 Steps as described by Alcoholics Anonymous.  But “not even beer” isn’t necessarily the right analogue.  After all, we need sex and love in our lives; we don’t need beer (even if it feels like that sometimes!)  So, how to have a healthy balance when – if you’re like me – your idea of “middle ground” is a clothesline stretched across a football field…
A good comparison, I believe, is Overeaters Anonymous.  You need nourishment to live, but you need abstinence to thrive.  So you set your bottom lines: “No sugar“ and “no white flour” are common.  Some people recognize other trigger foods and eliminate them from their diet as well.  What a sex and love addict does is set bottom lines and maintain complete abstinence from those behaviors.
Unlike, say, speed, I could always take or leave pornography.  My first sexual bottom lines were “no sleeping with married men” and “no boinking anyone less than half my age.”  That gives you some idea what my so-called love life looked like!  For someone who is spending more time than he planned to -- or wanted to, or knows is good for them – looking at internet porn, I would start with at least a 30-day cooling off period.  No porn in any form, no masturbation… no flirting or dating for 30 days, either, lest you just slop over into love addiction, the flip side of sex addiction.  Some people are okay with a content blocker on their computer; others have to get offline entirely for a while.  Think of it as a palate cleanser.  (Feel free to add your own “amuse bouche” pun here…._
After the overstimulated sexual thermostat regulates itself, you can start reintroducing healthy sexual behavior.  Like, for instance, sex.  Addiction creates such weird reward circuits in our brains that porn can feel more erotic than actual sex.  Nature would rather you had actual sex, and will cooperate with your efforts.  Just like Nature would rather you had actual food, and will encourage you by giving you a stronger, leaner, hotter body.
So drop that metaphorical 50-pound weight you’re carrying around and give it a chance.  Try it for a month.  Or a week.  Or – and here’s a novel thought! – One Day At A Time.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

By Ethlie Ann Vare

David Kessler, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, posits in his book "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite" that the modern food industry intentionally layers fat, sugar and salt in its products to trigger our craving for more food.  “They aren't selling just any commodity,” says Kessler.  “They've designed highly stimulating products, substances that excessively activate the reward circuits of the brain, and consumers come back for more.”

This is the scientific basis for banning 64-ounce sodas in New York City movie theaters: junk food is literally turning us into food addicts.  Well, sugary foods aren’t the only easily available, highly stimulating products on the market with a risk of triggering obsessive and destructive behavior.  You could say that internet pornography is the junk food of sex and love addiction.

No STD’s, no cash changing hands, no getting rousted by the Vice Squad… in the digital age, all anyone needs is a smartphone and, voila, hot and cold running sexual fantasies.  For most teenage boys, access to pornography 24/7 generally means pornography, 24/7.  But there’s a larger problem: the nature of the sexual fantasies themselves.  Like the complex, supercharged flavors of pretzel M&M’s or salted caramel ice cream, the intensity and variety of pornographic images available online go right for the brain’s reward circuits, creating that instant gratification feedback loop that easily turns into an addictive groove.

Recent studies show that watching pornography stimulates more brain activity in the dopamine receptors than having actual sex does.  Dopamine is the neurochemical that signals not just pleasure and gratification, but the anticipation of pleasure and gratification, which is often even more exciting. (For me, sorry to report, the anticipation is almost always more exciting than the event.  Whatever the event may be…)


Posted by on in Other Addictions

Anyone who tells you that love addiction is just like drug addiction has it wrong.  Love addiction isn’t like drug addiction at all.  It’s exactly the same thing.  Falling in love triggers a cascade of chemicals in the brain identical to the waterfall of chemicals launched by a line of cocaine, a snoot full of champagne, or a winning roll of the dice.  Research scientists now have the brain scans to prove it.

And if you’re like me, who never met a feel-good brain chemical she didn’t want more of, that can be tricky.  Because the flip side of this flowing fountain of yumminess is that, when the chemical cascade recedes, it feels exactly like withdrawal from heroin or nicotine or sugar.  When you are curled up in the fetal position, aching for the phone to ring, just to hear that voice… one… more… time…. You aren’t metaphorically jonesing for him.  You are literally jonesing for him.

I like this description by a woman caught in the throes of love addiction:
“The compulsion to call was completely beyond my control. I couldn’t stop myself. I would hold off for short intervals, but always there would come the tide of an overpowering necessity. I was engulfed in it; I felt such a sense of panic that I really believed I would die if I didn’t pick up that phone.”

A tide of overpowering necessity.”  The phrase is striking, lyrical, and accurate.  It’s also me cheating.  I took that paragraph from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous; it’s actually about the writer’s relationship with booze.  I just replaced the word “drink” with “call” and “phone.”  Works, though, doesn’t it?  If you’ve ever felt a sense of all-consuming urgency to dial that number, drive by that house, read that journal or check that Facebook page, you know what it’s like to be inundated by an oceanic wave, struggling desperately to reach the surface and just please, God, finally breathe again.

Compulsion: a key distinction between addiction and willful misbehavior.  
Another way to tell if you have love addiction, as opposed to puppy love (and, seriously, how graceful is it to still have puppy love at thirty-eight?) is that you suffer the twin phenomena of craving and withdrawal.  Craving is the need to replay the voice mail just to hear the sound of his voice, and the exhale that comes when you do.  Craving is the agitation you feel waiting for him to show up at the door, so anxious that even if he’s on time it feels like he’s late.  Craving is what makes you drive by, hang up, check again, ask around, look at pictures of the two of you . . . and then snap at your kid.

Tagged in: love addiction

Posted by on in Other Addictions

I had maybe a few months of abstinance under my belt when a man with twenty years of sobriety said something in a meeting that stuck with me to this day.  He said,"Alcoholics don't get angry, Increasethey are angry."

I left the meeting wondering what he was talking about. I thought to myself I am not angry.  I am not angry at all.  Why would he accuse me of being angry?  Not only was I in denial about my anger, I was also convinced he was talking about me!

It took many years of recovery and doing all twelve steps to begin to understand what he meant.  The Big Book warned me that the number one reason people quit the program of recovery is resentment.  It continued to say that as an alcoholic, I did not have the luxury of being angry.

When I did my fourth step and then continued on with my tenth step, I began to see my anger.  I was angry I wasn't smarter, prettier, thinner or wealthier.  I was angry my friends seemd to get what my parents wouldnt give me.  I was angry I wasn't married with children when I thought I should be. The list went on.

Nearly thirteen years later, I can see and accept my ongoing resentments.  I am angry I am not decisive.  I am angry I wasted so much time in my addictioin.  I am angry my son won't behave. I am angry I have to work. I am angry my husband asks too many questions when I am exhausted.


Posted by on in Other Addictions
Listening for Gods Voice can be a challenge.

I don’t know about you, but I have chatter going on in my head way too much. More than I care to admit. The days that start out with quiet meditation and thankfulness are incredible. I feel centered and at peace with myself. Then WHAM, a negative thought pops in or a wave of anxiousness tries to knock my scared space to ruins.
For me it is a conscious effort to listen for the voice of God. I must quiet the chatter and center my heart to receive him and his Good Orderly Direction.
Sometimes I may hear Gods voice through a good friend’s advice, sharing at a meeting, through the wind in the trees, or through pen and paper. Where ever I hear his voice, I must still my mind and be open to receive. I must listen closely. I must slow down. I must pause and be still.

What about you? How do you listen to Gods calling to get your attention? Do you turn your head, attempting not to hear or do you embrace his calling with abandon? Will you allow him to get your attention? Will you allow him in?

Be still and know that I am God. This is what scripture tells us. Be still in the world that is always in motion. Be intentional. Declutter your mind. Be swallowed up in his presence. Challenge yourself to be unchallenged. Be still and know your God.

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