Treatment Strategies for Sex Addiction

The Stages of Recovery
(from: “Don’t Call It Love” by Patrick Carnes)

    1. Developing: preconscious awareness of needing help; may be traced back to childhood when there was an awareness that something was wrong or out of control
    2. Crisis/Decision: Need to reach bottom followed by intervention; usually needs to be spouse and/or a group of people confronting them. A good intervention will include a recovering addict who can share his/her recovery story.
    3. Shock: Day One: How could this have happened? Day1-first 18 months is very difficult. In this phase there is a very likely chance of relapse (6-12 months). At 6 months they must renew the energy to continue in recovery.

    4. Grief: Years have been lost; loss of productivity; there are significant losses; allow them to grieve; allow them to be angry (may last 2-3 years).
    5. Repair: Making good decisions; vocational recovery; relationship recovery.
    6. Growth: Final phase (3-5 years).

Four Major Elements of Effective Treatment:

    1. Behavioral Change: sobriety
    2. Cognitive element: distorted belief system/pattern needs to be changed; the brokenness of a sex addict is evident:

    3. Distorted Beliefs:

      -I am bad
      -No one takes care of me
      -No one loves me
      -Sex is all I need

    4. Psychodynamic healing
    5. Spiritual: What does God say?

There May be a Need for:

    1. Neuropsyche testing
    2. Testing for STDs; teaching sex education
    3. Anti-depressant therapy; medical evaluation

    4. Teaching them how to treat the body as the temple
    5. Teaching them to start to like their bodies

Co-Addict: Spouse; frequently the forgotten client

    1. Developing: Intuitive; gut level; something is wrong; they own a lot; suspect something is wrong on a gut level; deep down, they know
    2. Crisis/Decision: Investigational work; they find things; start to check credit card receipts etc.
    3. Shock: When they realize these things are going on trust breaks down quickly; spouse is unable to trust anything

    4. Grief: Can be stuck here for a long time; rage; anger; key to the intervention is that the breakdown in trust goes way back (may be related to spouse history of sexual abuse); structure your intervention to help them process the anger/rage. They may be angry with God, begin to feel immense sadness or a feeling of being abused. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring the issues (combined with grace) to the surface.
    5. Repair: Get them to commit to their own recovery, their own healing process; give them the opportunity to work on their own lives, their own family of origin issues; help them to establish boundaries; help them to establish a vision for their future. Give them a vision of what God wants to do in their lives (Eph. 3:11-14). Pray for them to have a mighty spirit.
    6. Growth: 3-5 years later. They embrace the vision and begin to make positive changes.

Recovery as a Couple:

    1. Couples are heat-seeking missiles: The hope in their pairing is that they will heal one another?s problems. Victims who marry are seeking healing for their wounds.
    2. Couples suffer from intimacy disorder: Invade/Escape; sexual anorexia; re-victimization; running away.

    3. Couples suffer from Co-Dependency: An inability to trust; control; approval.
    4. Couples suffer from couples shame: isolating, fear
    5. Couples must accept mutual responsibility: Both people are equally responsible for the disease that has spread through their relationship.