Sex and love addiction manifests in a variety of compulsive behaviour patterns. For some it’s sex and pornography, for others it could play out as emotional anorexia, or an addiction to co-dependent relationships, romantic or fantasy obsession. News.com.au talks to three people who have sought treatment for sex addiction.
One of the tenets of treatment is going to meetings and sharing experience with others who’ve been there before.
“When I first started going to meetings people sounded really sick,” says Tom. “But now I know what I’m hearing is people being truly vulnerable.
“It me took a while to start sharing. Because my acting out involved pornography, I had a lot of shame, and shame just perpetuates addiction. Recovery made a profound shift in the shame I carried, and meant I could heal the underlying vulnerability.”
“Having peer support from fellow addicts is critical,” says Zoe. “Peers help you foresee issues and create strategies around what you want behaviour to be.
“I’m online dating, so I need a plan. I call someone before and after a date. And I don’t have sex unless I’ve made a decision to do that beforehand.”
Although there are women-only meetings, Zoe says that listening to men’s perspective is invaluable.
“One of the most healing aspects of meetings has been seeing men as human beings, not as objects for my gratification.”
“Recovery makes you look at the deeper issues, which isn’t comfortable,” says Zoe. “But the results were beyond anything I could have envisaged. It’s like calling a builder in to fix your door, but when you come home they’ve renovated the whole house beautifully. My mental health, self-esteem, career, health, family — all improved immensely.”
“Any addiction hijacks life,” says Tom. “All my behaviours were about pushing away from intimacy. Recovery means I’ve got to be prepared to take risks; both in exposing myself and seeing someone else’s emotional vulnerability. But that’s the most healing thing: to realise that it’s OK to have those feelings and being a human being is messy.”
“The way I see it is I can either have an active relationship with sex workers and porn or I can have everything else. In recovery, the best of life opens up.” To read more click here.
Sex addiction and other behavioural addictions will be a point of discussion at the Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference 2016, themed Alcohol – Other Drugs – Behavioural Addictions, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery which will be held on the Gold Coast from the 19 – 20 May 2016. To view the high quality Conference Program CLICK HERE.
Hosted by The Australia and New Zealand Mental Health Association promotes and encourages participation from all parts of the sector towards a shared appreciation of what medical, psycho-social and peer-based approaches can offer, through the experiences of service users, clinicians, and researchers. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.