Getting clarity about an important – and often misunderstood – issue
What is addiction? In the church, in counseling, and even in the field of recovery, this deceptively simple question gets really confusing really fast.
Susan Cheever, in her wonderful book Desire, has this to say about the challenge of getting clarity about addiction:
“For all the definitions that have been written by the hundreds of addiction specialists and doctors, addiction is still mysterious and baffling. In many cases it’s hard to tell if someone is an addict or just a passionate amateur.”
In order to overcome addiction, we need to have a clear understanding of what it is, exactly. How is a doctor supposed to treat people for illness if she doesn’t know what these illnesses look like?
We dismiss it because we don’t understand it
Related to the confusion about what addiction is — and maybe in part because of that confusion — some people are dismissive of the concept itself. I’ve heard people complain that it’s a modern invention, compared to the (idealized) past, where people seemed to just “deal with” their problems. “If someone drank too much, they just stopped” (did that ever really work?).
This year has been time of a major transition for our family. In June of last year, I started pastoring Jacob’s Well Church, a small church in the Chicago area. Jacob’s Well allows me to serve as pastor on a less-than-full-time basis, thus allowing me to continue doing my coaching and recovery teaching.
For the past year, I’ve been leading two weekly coaching groups that “meet” over the phone, as well as a face to face coaching group just for pastors. I also travel to Minnesota and speak at the Sex Addiction Workshop with Mark Laaser of Faithful and True Ministries once a month (most months).
With these transitions, I slowed down the writing I did on this blog (sexualsanity.com) and transitioned the “Recovery Journey” (a recovery program I established in 2010) to be more of a stand alone program.
For much of this past year, our future has been uncertain. My work at Jacob’s Well was that of a transition pastor, working to help the church decide what to do for its future. As a transition (or interim) specialist, it was quite possible that I would have relocated again sometime in 2012 to work full-time in a different church.
To make a long story short, I have agreed to continue as the pastor of Jacob’s Well church on a long term basis. In doing so, I will continue to work not-quite full time at the church, leaving some space to continue my work with Recovery Remixed.
Another milestone for us is that this year Charlene finished her Master’s in Counseling and Psychotherapy, with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Therapy. She has been doing some teaching with me, as well as counseling women and couples … and we anticipate that her counseling load will be growing this year.
It’s not clear all the ways that Recovery Remixed will transition this year, but at this point, several things are clear:
1. I will be re-engaging with the writing I do on the sexualsanity.com blog. It’s amazing to me to see that even though I’ve only been posting sporadically, we are still maintaining 10,000 visitors a month, and every day new people sign up to receive our newsletter.
2. I will be re-engaging with social media, to continue to get the message out. If you don’t already, I invite you to follow me on Twitter (use button below). I use Twitter as a way to share recovery insights and information (articles, videos, etc.). I’m not chatty. I’m not going to tell you what I ate for dinner, or how I feel about the Minnesota Vikings or the Kardashians. Just recovery, with an emphasis on emotional and spiritual health.
I promise that with Twitter and Facebook, I’m going to be focusing more on recovery in general and not be super sex-specific — we don’t want to get into any NSFW territory, or things that might freak your mother-in-law out if she saw it.
3. I will be re-engaging my email news list, establishing an “Ezine” called “Recovery Remixed Report” that will go out every week. It will be worth your time: a feature article and an update about the ministry of Recovery Remixed. This year I haven’t been doing much with this list, and I want to reengage people with more information. Let me know about anything you’d like to hear more about … any ideas for articles?
Have you signed up for the newsletter yet? If you signed up to get the free book, you’re already on the list … but if not, use the form below:
4. The message I want to extend has clarified … I want to focus more and more on Recovery in general, not just on sexual struggles, and especially on emotional and spiritual health as the foundation and ongoing work of long term recovery.
I am still convinced – in fact, increasingly so – that the key to ongoing recovery is nothing short of reinventing one’s life in ways that nurture emotional and spiritual health. Without that, our “recovery” efforts, are simply white knuckling it … and they won’t last.
Many sexual strugglers find help in 12 Step Programs – such as Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous – which adapt the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program to focus on sexual addiction. To be sure, 12 Step groups are not universally praised. Many people fault them for being “too religious” or “too Christian,” while at the same time many Christians reject them because they are “not Christian” enough. I have written other articles about the religion/Christianity issue, and today I want to focus instead on a different question:
The Recovery Journey is a new support program for sexual strugglers and their spouses/partners. It builds on the program I developed as a follow up to Men’s Workshops with Faithful and True Ministries (that program was called “90 Days to Sexual Sanity”).
The Recovery Journey offers:
more teaching resources (weekly teaching videos, also available in audio format)
more ways for participants to network and support one another (through a members-only forum website)
separate modules for newcomers to recovery, workshop or treatment alumni, and spouses
two large-group live calls per month (will also be recorded so people can listen that way)
NOTE: this program has been updated to what is now called: The Recovery Journey. The Recovery Journey is very similar to the “90 Days” program, but it includes video as well as audio, and lasts longer (for the same price as the 90 Days program!). The links will take you to the Recovery Journey page.
After years of working with people in recovery from sexual addiction, I have developed a program to help people make a new start in their recovery. Originally, this program was developed as a follow-up experience for people who go through our men’s workshops, but I have come to see that it’s also helpful for many people who want to make a new start in working on their sexual issues.
Each week you’ll get “daily guides” that contain meditations, teaching, and action steps to take each day that week. These guides average 35 pages per week (formatted to be readable on computer screen as well as printed out). The idea is to be doing some work every day towards recovery.
Along with the daily guides, each week you’ll get an hour-long audio seminar on a recovery topic. You’ll get the audio recording of the teaching session, along with the “action guide” (outline and space for notes). These audio seminars are usually recordings from teleseminars I’ve done, and include topics like:
“What is relapse and how to prevent it”
“How to find a local recovery group that fits your needs.”
“The spiritual questions and challenges of recovery”
“What spouses and parents need to know about sexual struggle”
To learn more – and/or to purchase this program … go to the new program website:
We’re excited to announce a new program to help people break free from compulsive sexual behavior and live spiritually free, sexually healthy lives! “90 Days to Sexual Sanity” is a program that offers direction and help to start a process of recovery (or re-start one that is drifting). This program is for people who are struggling with sexual behavior – whether or not this struggle is at the level of an addiction – and want to make positive change. Here’s what the program involves:
Daily “90 Days Guide” sent via email each morning
Each day participants will receive an email each day that provides teaching, next step ideas, and a recovery meditation … all designed with help for the sexual struggler in mind.
(1) You’ll get teaching about an important aspect of personal recovery and sexual health.
(2) You’ll get a specific assignment – a tangible action step – that will help you move forward in your recovery. These action steps are designed to be accomplished in a few minutes’ time.
(3) You’ll get a meditation from one of the many excellent meditation books published by Hazelden. The meditation will be specifically selected and targeted for its relevance to recovery from sexual struggles.
The goal of these daily guides is to provide brief reminders about the “how” and “why” of recovery, and to help participants take some tangible action that moves them forward in recovery.
Weekly coaching and support call
Along with the “daily next step” guides, participants in the “90 Days to Sexual Sanity” program will receive a weekly coaching call, facilitated by Mark Brouwer, which will offer a combination of teaching, accountability, and coaching around issues that participants are facing in their recovery.
For those who will be making the call from an office environment – or other place where they are unable to talk freely – opportunities will be available to get a message to the callers via instant message, so you can check in or ask a question without being overheard by someone nearby.
I just got an email from someone thinking about working with me as a coach, wanting to know more about the differences between coaching and therapy. Whenever I’m asked about this, I try to keep my answer short and focused on recovery. Here’s what I say: “Therapy focuses on how past trauma impacts your present actions, and helps you work through unhealed soul wounds. Coaching focuses more on helping you move into action, getting clear about your goals and removing obstacles to reaching them.”