Tiger Woods says he was one, Lindsay Lohan was accused of being one, and Charlie Sheen may be one.
We are talking about sex addicts.
It is a term that has received a lot of attention lately.
Some say it is real, others say it is a real good excuse, and doctors are weighing in.
These days, Brent McNamara works on the computer a lot. But he always has to keep himself in check. Brent is a recovering porn addict. For 10 years, he spent almost every waking moment looking at internet porn.
Brent said, “My nickname was very well-known in porn circles. This addiction completely took over my life, and I’m not kidding when I say 24/7.”
The addiction started shortly after Brent enrolled in school to be a pastor. First, it was the occasional magazine or movie, but when the internet became popular, Brent got hooked.
He said, “Before those days, you had considerable risk if you wanted to go into an adult bookstore. You had considerable risk of being seen by somebody you didn’t want to see.”
It became more than just looking at porn. Brent took part in live strip shows and even hired prostitutes.
He said, “I wasted a lot of years…really threw them away, messed up my life and hurt a lot of people.”
Bill Larson knows that feeling. He is also a recovering sex addict.
Bill said, “I couldn’t control it worth a damn, and I absolutely wanted to.”
Sex consumed his life. At one point, Bill had more than 10 partners at the same time. His breaking point came when they all found out about each other.
He said, “I think people want to make a joke out of it, but it’s no joke. It truly is a crippling disease.”
Dr. Mary Ann Layden agrees. She believes sex can be an addiction similar to drug addiction.
Dr. Layden is the Director of Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the Center for Cognitive Therapy at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
She said, “It’s not the putting it in your body through the mouth or through a vein that produces the addiction. It’s the getting hooked on, the brain reaction, knowing it hurts you and doing it anyway.”
According to the Binghamton University in New York, University of Pennsylvania, two new studies are offering evidence suggesting that sex may indeed be an addiction.
The first found differences in DNA were linked to sexual behavior in young adults. Those with a variant of the DRD-4 gene were more likely to have one-night stands and affairs. The second study found that non-addicted people who looked at porn images had similar brain responses to cocaine addicts who looked at images of people taking the drug.
Dr. Layden said, “We know that the sex drive is probably one of the most powerful things we have on the face of the earth.”
Sex Addiction Treatment
Previous editions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Manual have not recognized sex addiction as a mental disorder. The next edition, which comes out in 2013 will classify both porn and sex addiction as a “hypersexual disorder.” Some wonder if this official label will justify cheating among so-called “addicts.” At LDS Hope and Recovery we believe it is an addiction! Dr. Donald L. Hilton Jr., MD has written a fantastic book called He Restoreth my Soul. This book provides scientifical data and research supporting this fact. We believe that it must be treated like an addiction, much like alcohol or drugs in order to find recovery.
Dr. Layden said, “It’s not an excuse that says you get a pass on it.”
Then, there is the dilemma of treating sex addiction. Should doctors tell addicts to say no to all sex, like they do with drugs? When treating porn addiction Dr. Layden recommends patients set up an internet server that blocks porn at the server level and install accountability software that generates a list of all web sites visited. This info should then be forwarded to an accountability coach. We believe this method can be helpful, but will not solve an Pornography addiction. The addict needs to eliminate sources, and create bottom lines that create an internal filter. This internal filter will be much more powerful than any software filter. The issue of Pornography / Sexual addiction really has nothing to do with Pornography and Sex. It all about lust, and inability to manage ones emotions. If an addict doesn’t address these items they will never find recovery. Lets take Facebook; is there hardcore porn on Facebook? No, but there are thousands of images and profiles that an addict can look at, lust after and escape to. These images although not Pornographic actually trigger the exact parts of the addict brain, and invoke the same chemical reactions that they are trying to recover from. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are ok to lust a little bit. The addict must stop lusting in order to recover fully from this addiction.
Brent is now an assistant pastor at his church. He leads an addiction recovery group and even wrote a book about his experience. Whether it is bad behavior or a true addiction, these men are happy they were able to end it and move on with their lives.
Dr. Layden’s research shows the earlier a boy is exposed to porn, the more likely he is to engage in non-consensual sex.
On the flip side, the more pornography young women use, the more likely they are to be victims of non-consensual sex.
She says it is very difficult to get approval to conduct studies showing pornography to subjects because of the known damaging effects on the viewers.
Although this story is about a non-LDS member. It is a story that is familiar to many LDS members. This addiction has not passed us over. It is alive and well in our faith. It will take the efforts of a 12 step group, Qualified therapist and an educated Ecclesiastical leader to over come this problem. Please feel free to contact us for support or help.