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There’s an App for THAT?!!!

Last week I attended the IITAP Symposium (  This is the annual conference offered by the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals.  One of the feature presenters was Rob Weiss, LCSW, founder of the Sexual Recovery Institute (  He presented an educational, informative, and interesting session on the ever-increasing technology that can be used for connecting with sexual content and sexual partners – virtually instantaneously.

In a brilliant demonstration to drive his point home, Mr. Weiss connected his iPhone, live, to the LCD projector.  He demonstrated through two different apps, loaded on his iPhone moments before the presentation, how easy it was to connect to the cyber-sex-world for the possibility of immediate human contact. 

The internet has long been known to those seeking anonymous sexual activity.  The key factors that make sex on the Internet a powerful medium have long been referred to the “3 A’s” or the Triple A Engine (Cooper, 1998).  Those 3 “A’s”  are:  Affordability, Anonymity, and Accessibility.   I would argue the newest phenomenon in this triple A threat would be to add an “I” on for Instantaneous

Mr. Weiss demonstrated an app that utilized GPS technology  on the phone  to locate available and willing partners identified by dots on his iPhone screen.  One can specify the maximum  circumference distance area that one would like to search from their current location.  In a shocking reveal, there was someone 652 feet from his phone!!  This anonymous person had uploaded a picture and a request for an anonymous sex partner 40 minutes previously!!  There was another identified person approximately 2000 feet away!

Mr. Weiss demonstrated another app recently created for the smart phone market.  This app is an extension product of an application long known on the internet (those old antiquated days) advertising for extramarital affair connection.   He loaded a fictitious profile on the internet site just before the presentation began.  Checking his e-mail 40 minutes after loading his profile and request for a partner online, he had 6 different e-mail hits!

My clinical training for treating chemical addictions taught me that the faster a substance reaches the brain, the more addictive the substance.  The Triple Engine Threat that has long been known to fuel estimates for sex addiction to be between 3-6% of the general population, just got faster and more efficient.   Cybersex has been referred to as the crack cocaine of the internet.  I think we can safely say this next generation of smart phones might be the speedball effect!!

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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. 

Recovery is a season of collected victories with winning habits and attitudes consistently applied over time.  Successful recovery is not to push out the negative, but to invite the light in.  I thought more about Coach Lombardi’s quote:  "Once you learn to quit, it becomes habit."  Now I read it another way completely.  Once one learns to quit, or becomes a quitter, THAT becomes a habit.  Quitters never win.  Winners whether in the Super Bowl, or in recovery, consistently apply winning principles to move in the right direction and never quit. 

Either way one interprets the late Coach Lombardi, it works.  Small successful acts, with movement in the right direction, consistently over time, win the game.  Congratulations Packers!!

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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.

I have heard those who struggle with sex addiction describe how much they can identify with a repetition portrayed in the movie of living the same day, over and over, again.  Sex addicts describe a pattern of living hedonistically without care or concern of the consequences and manipulating situations to their advantage. They describe being stuck in a pattern they can’t escape and don’t understand how to get out of to live differently. 

Phil Connors begins to live differently when he makes a conscious decision to change the habit of his life.  When he consciously makes different choices outside the pattern, his life is not doomed to a cycle he’d prefer not to repeat.  Instead of trying to manipulate situations and the people around him, he learns to become present to their needs and offers service to others based on those needs. Until Phil moves beyond his self-centeredness, learns to be authentic, and live with humility; he stays stuck in a pattern he can’t break.

Similarly, addiction gets set up by a series of faulty patterns unconsciously repeated over and over to the point one can’t escape their own Groundhog Day.  Recovery begins by creating new healthy patterns, consciously. 12-Step meetings for Sex Addiction are where sex addicts can learn to break the patterns that have plagued them for so long.  Sex addicts in recovery recognize their powerlessness over the repetition of their day, and break the cycle by doing differently, one day at a time.  Instead of manipulating those around them, they become present to themselves and those to whom they surround themselves in recovery.  Living free from addiction requires humility. Living in recovery, means living authentically. The flip side of the addictive cycle is a cycle of presence, humility, and accountability. Sex addicts must be accountable to themselves, those they surround themselves with, and to their relationships.  Conscious habits break faulty patterns.

Will you live Groundhog Day again tomorrow?