Coming to terms with sex as an addiction

William Cope Moyers says: “Addiction is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. Addiction is not caused by a person’s character, or willpower; it is caused by the way an addict’s brain is wired.” I would add that especially with sex addiction, it is caused by the way early life experiences shaped the brain.

In other words, a tough marriage, boring job, or challenging boss doesn’t cause addiction. The availability of pornography or affair partners doesn’t cause addiction. Addiction’s roots go deeper. Difficult life events and the availability of sexual gratification lead to addiction when they meet a person who has been conditioned to seek solace in sex.

Is the knowledge that sex serves as an addiction enough to keep a person from using sex to cope with life’s challenges? Absolutely not. Does the fact that sex serves as an addiction mean that an addict is not responsible for the pain his or her actions bring to spouse and family? Absolutely not.

BUT … the fact that sex serves as an addiction can help us be more compassionate towards ourselves, and will guide us to greater wisdom about how to deal with our sexual struggle.

A person suffering from addiction can’t stop using, even when faced with losing everything. Addicts lose jobs, family, even their lives because of their addictions. This is because we can’t control the way our minds and bodies react to the stimulation we create with our acting out behaviors. This is powerlessness.

Learning to accept the reality of addiction is an important part of our recovery, because it forces us to face the power of sex in our lives. Once we accept that sexual craving has a grip on us that is no less powerful than the grip of alcohol to an alcoholic, or drugs to a drug addict, we are ready to take the steps toward recovery.

Then we can stop feeling frustrated or sorry for ourselves because we can’t watch certain movies, or read certain magazines without moving into obsession … like “ordinary people” seem to be able to. Then we can stop telling ourselves that it’s okay to isolate and that we can “take care of this little problem ourselves.”

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