Category Archives: Addiction

The Spiritual Questions and Challenges of Recovery – free teleseminar July 23

We’re hosting a free teleseminar on Thursday night, July 23. This teleseminar is open to anyone who’d like to learn more about recovery from sexual struggle, either for themselves or someone they know. The theme will be: The spiritual questions and challenges of recovery.

Many people who come into recovery with a strong religious background find that their faith complicates things. The reverse is also the case: their addiction complicates their experience of faith. They struggle to figure out why the spiritual approaches they tried in the past didn’t work. I have come to believe that for some of us who come out of church backgrounds, recovery will involve unlearning as well as learning. As the saying goes in AA, “it was our own best thinking that got us into the mess that we’re in.” Let’s face it: for many Christians, struggle with addiction creates a crisis of faith as well as a crisis of life and relationships.

Some people are disappointed or even angry at God for not answering their prayers for healing from their addiction in the past. Some people struggle with heightened sense of shame around their behaviors (“Since I’m a Christian and have access to God’s power to change my life, why am I not getting this?”).  Some people deal with unspoken questions and doubts about their faith. Other people find that approaches to recovery that involve compassion for their past wounding are hard to reconcile with the stern moralistic tone of what they have been taught is “biblical” Christianity. They find it hard to balance the psychological insights they encounter in recovery with the black and white “just trust God and don’t do it” teaching that they’ve grown accustomed to from their church.

In this teleseminar, I will address these spiritual challenges, talking about my own experiences of recovery after 15 years as a pastor of two evangelical churches. I’ll address topics such as:

  • Why so many prayers for recovery go unanswered
  • How “faith” helps and hinders recovery
  • What is God’s part and what is my part in recovery
  • How to deal with it as a believer when important recovery insights come from non-believers

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this topic! Many men that I know and work with in recovery are facing profound struggles with this topic, and there are few places where we can talk honestly about them. I certainly don’t want to present myself as having “arrived” in any way, shape, or form with respect to this issue, but I do want to share what I am learning.

When will it take place?
· Date: July 23 (Thursday)
· Time: 7:00pm, central standard time

How much will it cost? free

How long will it last? 60 minutes

To register, send an email with your name, phone number, and email address to:

Recovery isn’t just about stopping certain behaviors

“You don’t recover from an addiction by stopping using. You recover by creating a new life where it is easier to not use. If you don’t create a new life, then all the factors that brought you to your addiction will eventually catch up with you again.”

These are words I’ve taken from the website I couldn’t agree more. The game is not to simply stop doing our addictive behaviors. Abstinence just clears our head enough to help us get started. The real game is becoming different people: people who aren’t so stressed out and miserable that they need to escape, numb out, or prop themselves up with addictive behaviors.

Here is a link to some great stuff from the website about becoming that different person and preventing relapse.

How addiction hurts relationships

Addictions wreck relationships. Addictions lead people to lie, steal from, and neglect the people they love. Sex addiction creates a unique havoc in marriages, because it strikes at the heart of the marriage commitment to sexual fidelity. But it doesn’t end there. Our addiction ultimately affects all the relationships in our lives. It creates sadness, anger, confusion, and a host of varied reactions from people who care about us.

When the truth about our behavior surfaces – and it always eventually does – friends and family will likely resent us for the hurt our addiction caused them. Sometimes mixed in with that anger are feelings of sadness and worry that they may have been in some way responsible for our addiction.

Spouses sometimes take on the belief that if they were more attractive, attentive, or available that they could have kept us from doing what we did. Sometimes we as addicts believe this too, and this blame-shifting is part of our denial. Many men I work with carry a secret reservoir of resentment towards their wives, mistakenly thinking that if their wives were more sexually available, they wouldn’t have such a hard time controlling their sexual urges. But the reality is that no spouse is capable of meeting the needs of a sex addict. There is not enough sex to satisfy someone who is using sex to cope with the pain, stress, and/or boredom of life. Even so, sex addiction is unique in the devastation it creates in the marital relationship.

Friends and family can heal during our recovery, just as we heal. Each person must concentrate on his or her own issues while learning how to detach with love. There are groups and therapists that offer support for spouses of sex addicts.

What makes sex addiction especially toxic for families is the wall of secrecy that is usually built around the addiction. Since sex is so personal, and fear of other people finding out about our struggles so overwhelming, many couples try to go about recovery while living in a bubble of secrecy and shame. Children, extended family, and friends experience various forms of suffering because of the addiction, and are often left in the dark about what is really going on.

Sometimes it’s necessary to withhold the truth of our addiction from people who were affected by it, because they can’t be trusted to handle the information. Discussions about how far to extend the circle of disclosure are ongoing and complex, especially during the early years of recovery. But even if we decide not to disclose the truth of our addiction to family and friends, we must honest with ourselves about the level of damage we have brought into these peoples’ lives.

Our addiction touches all the people in our lives, whether we realize it or not. It causes us to neglect people we should be attentive to, to isolate ourselves, to be withdrawn or cranky, and sometimes to sexualize people and situations that should not be sexualized. Our awareness of this damage will grow over time, and we must be careful not to drift into shame and self-hatred when it does. Our shame dissipates as we keep working our recovery, and as we make amends to the people we have harmed in whatever ways are appropriate.

Facing your fears: a key issue in recovery

It can be scary in the first few months of life without addictive sexual behavior. When we are in our addiction, we lived in fear of being found out. Now in recovery, we feel a great sense of relief to not be hiding those behaviors … but we also have other new fears to face.

Common fears of people in early recovery include:

  • fear of returning to old behaviors
  • fear of losing spouse and/or child custody as a result of our acting out
  • encountering the stigma and judgmental attitudes from people who know about our addiction
  • going to support group meetings for the first time and not knowing anyone
  • fear of boredom or emptiness in life without our addictive behaviors
Fortunately, recovery also gives us new tools to face our fears. As with any emotion, we learn that fear is not overpowering or permanent. Like a wave that washes over us, we know that it will come and go. We can reach out to others for support when we feel alone or insecure. We can turn our fears into prayers, and ask for God’s help.

We can use journaling to make a “fear to gratitude” list. We can list not only our fears, but also the things we are grateful for. By focusing on the things we’re grateful for, we’re reminded that God has protected and cared for us in the past. If we’ve been helped in the past, chances are we’ll also be helped in the future.

Ultimately, we don’t really “conquer” our fears, we surrender them. We acknowledge them, and choose to let them go. We turn them over to God.

I have it most helpful to do this by using the Serenity Prayer. When I pray the Serenity Prayer, I usually find that the fear I am carrying is about things I can’t control anyway. So I am reminded to simply focus attention on the things that I actually can do something about. Then I surrender the rest to God’s care.
Serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Sponsors: the missing link for many recovering sex addicts

Sponsorship is the missing link for many people in recovery … and especially for sex addicts. Sex addicts are especially prone to isolation and many guys struggle with the willingness to persevere in the ups and downs that occur in sponsor relationships. (I’ll be using male language here, because this was originally written for the 90 Days to Sexual Sanity program … which is for male sexual strugglers.)

I don’t have empirical research to back this up, but I talk to a lot of people about this subject, and continue to get this message: the sex addict who’s actively working with a sponsor is the exception rather than the rule. That’s a big part of the reason why so many people are struggling and not recovering.

In early AA, there were no “walkins.” People didn’t come to the meetings without being sponsored in by someone. AA continues to have a stronger commitment to sponsorship than most sex addiction groups.

This is especially true with church based groups like Celebrate Recovery. In fact, the material I have seen from Celebrate Recovery applies principles of sponsorship to either sponsors or “accountability partners.” Big problem.

If you are focusing your recovery around a relationship with an accountability partner, you are asking for trouble. If you were out in the middle of a lake, struggling to swim and starting to drown, who would you rather have … another guy who’s drowning like you, or someone who’s a strong swimmer? Your accountability partner in the water is just as likely to pull you down into the water with him as he is to pull you to shore. Find someone who is further along than you are, who you can learn from and lean on.

Continue reading Sponsors: the missing link for many recovering sex addicts

Recovery requires positive messages to counteract shame

Recovery from sex addiction is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive. It requires thinking and acting in ways that run counter to many of the messages we hear from others, and tell ourselves.

The counter-cultural examples are probably the most obvious. Think about the many messages we get that promote recreational sex and pornography as normal and healthy. As sexual strugglers, we realize that these things are destructive for us. So we need continual reminders of this to counteract the onslaught of the messages of popular culture. We need continual reminders of our commitment to sexual sanity when we are confronted by suggestive TV or movie scenes, advertisements, or web sites.

But there are other kinds of messages that are just as destructive to our souls and dangerous for our recovery. Many of us fail to recognize their power. Shaming, self-derogatory messages set us up for relapse just as sexually-triggering messages do. To maintain our recovery, we must be on guard against messages that put us down and undermine our hope for a better future for ourselves.

We get these messages from other people, and from our own self-talk. Maybe when you were growing up, you were teased or put down in some way, and now as an adult you find that it’s very easy to put yourself down. You somehow internalized those messages, and now you’re hearing them in your own head.

There are two ways to deal with these negative and hurtful messages: (1) guard yourself from places where these messages get reinforced, by limiting time spent with people who are negative, critical, and/or disrespectful (2) counter-act the negative messages with positive messages that remind you of the truth, and reinforce your hope.

1. Limit exposure to negative messages

As important as this first strategy is – limiting our exposure to these negative messages – sometimes it can be hard to do. Some of us get a lot of negative, critical messages from our spouses. Especially in early recovery, we bear the brunt of anger and sadness from our spouses, and it’s not uncommon to hear a lot of “what is wrong with you?” kinds of messages.

Continue reading Recovery requires positive messages to counteract shame

Tiger Woods is only latest in line of celebrity sex addict outings

Tiger Woods … a sex addict? Is he a sex addict, or just a player? The photos that surfaced recently that allegedly were shot of him in a treatment facility only raise the issue again. Let’s keep this in mind … Woods is not alone in this “celebrity sex addict” story. Just in the past several years, a few celebrities have outed themselves – or been outed – about sex addiction. I wonder if there are more celebrity sex addicts who just haven’t gotten treatment yet?

Eric Benet
In 2002, the former husband of Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry reportedly checked himself into a rehabilitation center for treatment of a sex addiction.

David Duchovny
An actor who plays a sex-obsessed man in the TV show “Californication,” Duchovny acknowledged he entered rehab for sex addiction in 2008.

Michael Douglas
In the early 1990s, Douglas was labeled a sex addict by his ex-wife. The actor sought treatment in a Los Angeles clinic.

Kari Ann Peniche

A model, she was kicked off Dr. Drew Pinsky’s celebrity-themed “Sex Rehab” show about sexual addiction on VH1 in 2009, after failing to live up to the rules of the program.

Wilt Chamberlain
In 1991, the late NBA player claimed he had sex with 20,000 women in his second autobiography, “A View from Above.”

Source: Detroit Free Press article

Training event for church leaders about how to help sexual strugglers

Helping the Sexual Strugglers*

A training event for pastors, church staff, and lay ministry leaders

June 4, 2009

Changes in society and the advent of the Internet have led to an epidemic of sexual struggle around the world. All are vulnerable, huge numbers of people are struggling, and for many the struggle has developed into a full-blown addiction. Church leaders are looking for ways of helping people caught in the web of compulsive sexual behavior. Our vision at Recovery Remixed is to provide teaching and guidance not only to sexual strugglers, but also to the ministry leaders who seek to help them. So we are jointly sponsoring this training event with Faithful and True Ministries for pastors, church staff, and ministry leaders.

Many people needlessly suffer because the church leaders providing teaching and care to them have limited knowledge about sex addiction /compulsive behavior and inadequate approaches to dealing with it. We want to present the findings from the latest research and our experience in working with strugglers, in the hope that more can be done to stem the tide of this growing problem.

Register today for this important training event for pastors and church leaders.

What is it?
Helping the Sexual Strugglers is a one-day training event for pastors, church staff, and small group leaders. Continue reading Training event for church leaders about how to help sexual strugglers