Sex Addiction, Habits and Winning Recovery

"Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit."    –Vince Lombardi

The Packers have another super victory after Super Bowl XLV yesterday.  Vince Lombardi, former coach to Green Bay, has many books written about his great strategies for coaching and his winning attitudes.  Lombardi was fierce to find principles that work.  The small successful strategies applied over time led to a monumental and admired career legacy.

I was struck by his quote: “Once you learn to quit, it becomes habit.”  To me, there is a double entendre.  I thought of addiction.  any addiction is a series of bad habits going in the wrong direction---heading towards the wrong goalpost, if you will. Recovery needs new habits, a collection of good choices, redirected towards the right goalpost.  Initially I read the quote as: once one learns to quit a bad habit or addiction, a successful new habit is achieved. I thought about people I see who win in recovery.  The addict that quits bad habits can turn their strategy around. Bad habits need to cease and good choices need to be aimed in the right direction. Quitting those habits of addiction forms a good habit over time with successful, and winning, outcomes. 

Sex Addiction and Groundhog Day

What Do Sex Addiction and Groundhog Day Have In Common?

Do you remember the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell?  Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, is stuck reliving the same day over and over.  At first he is anxious and then becomes agitated with the repetition of the same day, over and over, again.  With the pattern of repetition set, he begins to manipulate situations to his advantage. The cycle escalates to the point where he hedonistically lives like there is no tomorrow, without consequences.  He is relegated to live a pattern that he would prefer not to repeat.

Sex Addiction, the Partner's Mistrust and Recovery

"To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say."  Rene Descartes

The betrayal and discovery of sex addiction in a relationship is a betrayal like no other.  As a CSAT, I sit with people who have felt that very unique betrayal.  Sex addicts are great at hiding and living very compartmentalized lives.  Rare is the sex addict that comes forward to proclaim that they have a problem and need to seek help or treatment.  Once the addiction is discovered, there is a dynamic in the relationship that ensues.  Trust is blown.  The partner feels like the only way to be sure that offending behaviors are arrested is to keep tabs on the offending partner.  In shock they feel if they had not discovered, or happened upon evidence of sorts, then they would have never known.  Continuing to seek the evidence results in what is commonly referred to “pain shopping” in recovery circles.  Pain shopping keeps one stirred up internally and as agitated or “crazy” as the addict is with their addiction. Pain shopping is a straight pipeline to enacting the codependency dynamic in the couple impacted by sex addiction.

Am I a Sex Addict?

Often I am asked to speak with physicians and other professionals in the community to help them understand more about sex addiction in their clinical practice.   A very quick and useful tool to understand if further evaluation is needed is something referred to as PATHOS.  

 

Physicians and mental health clinicians who have been trained to quickly screen for chemical dependency issues are aware of the  CAGE  Screening tool. (Have you ever tried to Cut back, Are people Annoyed by your use, Have you ever felt Guilty for your use, etc...)

 

PATHOS is the parallel screening tool to CAGE for Sex Addiction.