The title to this post might seem a little strange. Can we really “resolve” an addiction? Can it be put behind us for good? Let’s look into this question.
There are many ways to understand and “conceptualize” addiction. What I’ve found over time and what much of the research on the topic supports is that addictions (whatever forms) are coping tools to deal with the things in life that we find hard to manage. That might seem simple, but the simplicity in the statement is thwarted by its impact and significance.
Most of my clients battle some form of sexual addiction. It’s rarely the sex or porn that they “seek,” but instead it’s the escape or distraction from what is happening in their lives. As an example – If you go to work everyday and feel overwhelmed and stressed at the end of the day, and you have no healthy way to deal with that stress, you might act out in your addiction. The distraction or escape from feelings of stress have a relaxing effect. Is it sex or pornography that you want? No, it’s what sex or pornography bring to you – escape, relaxation, etc.
So, in this model, we need a two-pronged approach: 1) stop, minimize, or limit the addictive behaviors, and 2) tackle the underlying issue.
In the example above, the root cause isn’t acting out. The root cause is the person’s inability to be comfortable with feeling overwhelmed. If the person can learn that being overwhelmed isn’t the worst thing, and can manage their life in a more healthy way and either eliminate those feelings or learn to manage them better, the need for escaping no longer exists.
Granted, there is much more to overcoming an addiction than understanding this model, but this is where we start. Understanding it is part of the battle.
Once the model is understood and the individual’s behaviors and stressors are identified and “on the table” for discussion, the real work of healing and moving forward can start and we’re on our way to resolving sex addiction.