Erik Bohlin, M.A. is a recovery coach who offers hope and skills
to get you free from sexual addiction. Check out the video.
The Problem of Sexual Addiction Struggling with pornography, compulsive masturbation, affairs, chat
rooms, and sexual behavior? You are not alone.
It is a big problem. The losses can be astounding--a marriage, a family, a job, and self dignity.
Sexual addiction can impact one's pocketbook, physical health and self esteem.
Oftentimes we don't connect the dots. We don't see how acting out
sexually is causing all these other problems. Sometimes, we think that
if we didn't have these problems in the marriage, we wouldn't "use" sex so
much. We might also just think that we have a higher sex drive than
others and this is still normal.
If you feel that you have a problem,
there is help! But there is no freedom without a
fight. How does one learn how to recover from the grip of addiction?
There are specific tools and principles for stepping out of the maelstrom of sexaholism.
One has to see past the addiction, to
what one can become. One has to see that there more important
things in life besides sex. You might be thinking, "it is hard to imagine that there is
anything better." (for sexaholics, some research indicates that you might
process dopamine differently that other people do and that your experience
of sex might be different as well.) Most people understand that sexuality is a
very powerful force. When one has had a hard time keeping up in life,
it is easy to use one's sexuality, or rather misuse it to feel better.
The nature of
addiction is for "it" to become central in one's life-to become a "dictator."
Addiction comes from the Latin, ad dictum - to
the dictator. To get free it takes three things.
Motivation-You've got to want it out of your life.
2) Skill-You've got to learn
how to get it is out of your life.
3) Action-You've got to actually take the steps in order to get it
out of your life.
Putting this all
together is what is called a "program." A "program" of recovery works for
many addictions. Just like the addiction ran your life into the grave, a
program of recovery can help you resurrect from that grave of self
A Program of Recovery
from Sex Addiction The addiction
is a big part of any sex
addict's life. Just like people who drink and drug, shop or gamble,
they use for just about any reason. People use when they are happy. They use when they are
sad. When they are anxious. When they are mad. It "helps"
to face the day. It "helps" to end the day. Often sex addicts
say they use it at night to go to sleep - a nightcap. It becomes more
and more clear that anxiety has a lot to do with this. Any program of
recovery involves learning to manage anxiety. Does the acting out
sexually create more anxiety. Sure it does, but we don't usually think
To recover, one must have a program. Something
that they do every day to remind them: 1) That they have a
sexual addiction and need daily dose of the medicine of recovery; 2) There is hope for recovery and
that it will work if they take certain steps; and 3) One must actually practice the
steps (actions) and principles on a daily basis to recover.
Your own program of recovery
Many of us tried on our own. We realized that we
needed more information or support or something, because we couldn't do it
Have you ever tried to stop acting out sexually but found yourself failing? 2.
Have you made promises to yourself that you would quit and found yourself
using again? Did accountability not work
Most of the work to get well from sex addiction occurs
outside the counseling office or a recovery group. It is what takes place every day,
morning and evening - with others and by one's self. Counseling and 12
step meetings are essential to recovery, but the actual work occurs the
other 23 hours of the day. When we are alone.
recovery program makes a lot of sense. As a therapist, I have worked
with addiction for over 20 years and find that I say the same things over
and over. It is not that people's stories aren't different, but it is
about the solution being the same. Over the years I have learned a lot
more about recovery than I started out. I have found what works and
what typically doesn't work.
A home-based recovery program for sex
addiction can save you some money and can get you started on the road to
recovery. It is not intended to replace professional counseling, but is
about providing sound information that can be used to help you get started
in recovery and/or a supplement to therapy.
Counseling definitely has its
place and can be very effective. But what if you can't afford therapy
or are unable to take time off from work? The travel alone adds more
time away from your day.
Listening to your program on your
IPod or in the car can strengthen your recovery program. I will share
with you valuable steps towards getting free. I will also encourage
anyone who has this problem that they can get help. I am starting to
sound like I am selling something? Well, actually I am. There is
a lot of valuable free information on this website. I believing in
giving. But, I also make a living putting together audio programs for
people with what I believe are very good and practical tools to
help people. I am a professional counselor and a recovery coach to
assist people in recovery. I realized that most of the information I
gave to people was usually the same information. I decided to maximize
my times and efforts by putting together the Sexual Recovery Project.
It is comprised of a number of coaching sessions. You can go
immediately to our store to check them out by clicking
Session 1: Getting Started -
This coaching session will get you started in your recovery journey. What
are the first steps of recovery? Learn the difference between "getting
control" of the addiction vs. "letting go" of the addiction. What is sexual
addiction and what is it doing to me? How to get motivated for change.
Techniques to help you gently get out of denial and see the whole picture.
We discuss the personality characteristics and defense mechanisms of any
addiction and how they affect relationships. Learn about the 5 stages of
change and how to use them for your recovery.
Click here to order
Session 2: Relapse and Recovery
- This coaching session with Erik will deal with slips and relapses in a
compassionate way to help you learn how to get sober. Humility is the key
to gaining sobriety. Learn from your last relapse and gain wisdom from it.
Identify what your triggers are and 3 questions to ask yourself that will
prevent another slip. Gain better recovery by understanding a little about
neurophysiology of sexual addiction. (49 minutes)
Click here to order
Session 3: A Plan of Recovery
- Just like "the force of addiction" had a plan of destruction,
you must have a plan of recovery. Without, you will never get sober.
I know this is bold to say, but I haven't ever seen anyone get long term
freedom from sex addiction without it. For recovery to be
successfully, understanding, developing and putting into practice the plan
will give you the greatest chance of sobriety. Not only will it help you
get sober, it will help you stay sober from lust. (70 minutes)
Click here to order
Session 4: Surrendering to God
(will be added soon)
Session 5: The
Neurology of Addiction (will be added soon)
Session 6: Making the Connection
- Learning about emotion and how to connect with others. Addiction
isolates its victims. It is destroyed through honest and loving
connection. Learn how to connect in the right way and how the
addiction brings 'the great misconnection.'
Session 7: Handing
Slips, Falls and Relapses - Learning to handle relapse is just as
important as learning how to get sober. It is one thing to get sober.
It is another to stay sober. Many people can stop. It is staying
stopped that is the key.
How do I know I am addicted to sex? Here are some questions to consider.
Have I ever thought I needed help for my
sexual thinking or behavior?
Have I ever thought that sex is controlling
Have I ever tried to stop or limit doing
what I felt was wrong in my sexual behavior?
Do I resort to sex to escape, relieve
anxiety, or because I feel I can't cope?
Do I feel guilt, remorse or depression
Has my pursuit of sex become more compulsive
Has my level sexual behaviors progressed,
i.e. "I have done things now that I thought I would never do?
Does it interfere with relations with my
spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend?
Do I have to resort to images or memories
Do I keep going from one "relationship" or
lover to another?
Do I feel if I had a better sexual
relationship with my spouse that this would help me stop lusting,
masturbating, or being so promiscuous?
Does the pursuit of sex make me careless for
myself or the welfare of my family or others?
Has my effectiveness or concentration
decreased as sex has become more compulsive?
Do I lose time from work for it?
Do I turn to a lower environment when
pursuing sex? Has it taken me to places in a city, I never thought I
Do I want to get away from the sex partner
as soon as possible after the act?
Have I used alcohol and drugs in the past?
Have I ever been in a situation that I might
have considered sexually abusive?
Have I felt I had to keep this a secret?
Do I have difficulty expressing my feelings?
Was it difficult for me to answer these
questions, or did I try to minimize and rationalize some of the answers?
Answering yes to any of these
questions could mean that you have a sexual addiction is affecting your
The Cycle of Addiction
This video explains how the cycle of addiction works and how it pulls you
The Four Core Beliefs
1. I am unlovable. The sex addict, like any addict at the core,
feels really different from others. There is a sense of toxic shame.
Yeah, we may feel and work hard just like the other guy and work at looking
normal, but deep down we don't feel the same as others and really don't feel
loved. In a marriage, we complain that our wives don't love us
enough. We may not express this openly or even have thought about
this--but this is how we feel. We may have a lot of friends, but on
the inside we think that we are fooling others and that given time, they
will found out how "bad" we are an we will be rejected. In the book of Sexaholics Anonymous, it says "that first we were sex addicts, then love
cripples, we took from others to fill what was lacking in our lives."
We were taking what was lacking in our lives." This leads us to the
next core belief.
2. If I share everything with you, you will
reject me. So we begin to hide and not share honestly what is going on
in our life. This is not just the sexual indiscretions, but just about
anything we think presents ourselves in a poor light. In some ways,
sex addicts may look great and better than average on the outside, while on
the inside they feel dead. We live a double life, and not just about
sex. As a result of being dishonest, our marriage begins to suffer.
It creates a wedge between us and our spouse and we really start to think
that if "I share everything, I will be rejected." So we put a spin on
reality. We are in denial, which is not so much lying, but really
about unawareness. We fool ourselves so that we can live with
ourselves. We minimize. We admit to some behaviors but normalize
them and justify them. We defend and explain. We say, "well,
it's not like we are having a good sexual relationship." Could it be
that the sexual addiction is the cause of that? We usually don't think
like this and think of it the other way around. If I were having a
better relationship with my wife, then I wouldn't have this trouble.
Chances are we come to the marriage with this. We think, "I am just
like all the other guys." We develop an "accounting system" which is
present in any addiction. There is a list of sexual behaviors we
haven't done to convince ourselves they we were not addicts. "I haven't
gone to a strip club or a prostitute" "It is not like I masturbate
everyday." "It is not like I do it any more than every three months."
"I am not really out of control, I just need to work hard at this."
Eventually, if it is a sex addiction which is a progressive disease, it will
be getting worse and not better. We then do a behavior on the
accounting list, but move it to the acceptable list to help us stay in
3. If I depend on people or God, they will let
me down. Sex addicts are very independent, self-directed people.
They don't want to rely on anyone, because they feel that they could be let
down. They have a hard time trusting people. This usually comes
from their dysfunctional family growing up. This is not about blaming,
but identify where they became "ill." The "addiction" becomes the
"trusted source of comfort." We don't know how to ask for help.
That is why this usually goes on and on and on.
4. Sex becomes
my more important need. It may not seem like it, but really we live
from sexual experience to sexual experience. It begins to dictate our
lives. The root of the word addiction in Latin is "ad dictum,"
meaning, to the dictator. These core beliefs are present in most
addictions, drugs, pot, alcohol, sex, food, working, gambling, and
In counseling we address these 4 core beliefs.
We have them start to break these rules. We encourage people to talk
in a safe and confidential place. Usually with their therapist,
support group, or 12 step group (SA-Sexaholics Anonymous). We don't
encourage lying to spouses, but we don't think it is wise to share
everything, like their sexual history timeline with their spouse. We
need to help them get used to sharing honestly with them selves and then a
sponsor. Their spouse is typically coming from the place [and it is an
understandable and healthy place] that their spouse has committed adultery,
at least at a mental level. We help the sex addict start to "get
sober" as we call it. That is they stop using porn, masturbation, etc.
and they start to develop new ways of coping. They start to feel
emotion again or possibly for the first time a a deeper level. We help
them ask for help for what they need in life. We help they develop a
better relationship with God. Many people have a relationship and have
been going to church, but their addiction has gotten in the way.
This is just a glimpse of the work we can do to gain recovery from this
problem that seems to be affecting so many of us.
What are the steps toward healing? Recovery is the process where we are tired of
using and we say good by to our 'drug of choice.' The process of
recovery is three-fold: Physical, Emotional and Spiritual. Some substances
have a direct effect on our nervous system like alcohol, pot, street drugs
and prescription medicine. Sex addiction is what we call a "process
addiction" as they involve behaviors and not a substance. Other process
addictions are compulsive, gambling, spending, work and Internet use. Don't
be fooled. These behaviors can be very addictive and affect our brains just
Emotionally, addicts are numb. That is why many people with
addiction look so good. They function pretty well. They appear even tempered
at the beginning stages, because they are sedating ourselves with the glass
of wine at night, the porn fix weekly or the "shopping therapy" on the
weekend. They really don't really think that there is anything wrong. This
is what is called denial. It is easy to minimize masturbation.
The feeling is that "I am not really hurting anybody." But, it is
hurting the loved ones around them by numbing themselves and expecting
others to pick up the emotional pain.
parent or concerned person begins to feel more than they addict is feeling.
As the concerned person becomes more motivated to help the addict, the
addict does less to help their own life. The need to be "independent" and
not controlled is a very strong need. It surpasses rational thinking and
logic. They unconsciously choose to continue in their addictive cycle rather
than look at the reality of what is going on and doing what their spouse wants.
Feeling "independent," they are actually dependent on the
sexual acting out, eating, drinking, working, shopping, gambling, or drug use.
The spouse or loved one started to be afflicted with the desire to "think
for," "feel for," or "fix" the addict. Why? They have all this
emotion that the sex addict is not dealing with. By this time, the sex
addict may only feel 50% of their emotion while the codependent may be
feeling 150% (100% of their own and 50% of the addicts). The feelings
are then overwhelming for the spouse.
There is also the
element of breaking marital vows or a committed relationship, taking the
sexual energy away from the other and consuming it on one's self. All
addiction has elements of selfishness, even though they may look very
unselfish in some ways. It would be like going out on a date and then
running to the corner of the restaurant and eating the the meal by oneself
or worse, taking a snapshot of the date and then spending time with the
photograph. The reality is that there is no healthy masturbation or porn
use. The Physiology of Sexual Addiction
For instance, there is a center in our brain called the "Cingulate Gyrus."
This area has to do with attention. It is the "channel changer" in our
brain. When this works well, we are able to see options, have cognitive
flexibility and be able to shift our attention from one idea to the next.
When it doesn't work well, we get STUCK, not being able to get a
thought, worry or resentment out of our minds. People who struggle with "Cingulate
Gyrus" problems tend to hold on to resentments from the past, worry a lot,
and their brains gets into a lock-in mode. These people often come from
alcoholic homes. Addiction is appealing to them. It momentarily takes away
the obsession and resentment and numbs it with pleasant feelings. But the
obsession become switched to the obsession to use or compulsion to act out.
We know that sexual addiction and compulsive gambling affect the same center
of the brain, "Cingulate Gyrus," as in cocaine addiction. Dr. Daniel Amen, a
psychiatrist whose clinics have looked at more that 20,000 SPECT brain scans
of individuals, has provided us with a lot of useful information regarding
addiction. His website,
brainplace.com is very helpful.
12 Step Programs, Honesty, and Shame
Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step
programs have helped countless individuals who have struggled with
addiction. The steps are simple spiritual processes that when utilized help
people overcome what they could not do on their own. These principles, even
though they appear simplistic, are pretty profound and life changing once
they are explored, understood and practiced. The recovering addict claims
"spiritual progress, rather than perfection." (taken from the book
Alcoholics Anonymous) Perfection was part of the disease. Addicts could not
admit many mistakes, imperfection or any problems prior to recovery. Why?
Shame is a big part of it. We tend to use the word shame to describe what in
fact is really, "toxic shame." Healthy shame reminds us that "we are not
God." Most of the shame addicts experience is this "toxic shame," that is
not being human. To compensate for the sense of shame, they are
perfectionists. It is difficult for them to be honest with themselves about
their faults, their shortcomings and the life in general. Without honesty,
there is little growth. So unrecovered addicts tend to repeat the same
mistakes without ever learning. Shame makes them arrogant, prideful and
"better than life." They are in a "better than/less than" dance. You are
either better than them or less than them. Health is recognizing that each
person was created by God and that we have all been affected by the fall. This disease has affect us all. If we can only see ourselves as we really how, think how much more we
could repent and make progress. In a shame-free environment, there is
acceptance. Acceptance of another human weaknesses and strengths. By
accepting we don't meaning condoning sinful behavior, but acknowledging and
dealing with it. Because of shame we don't even want to deal with it. We
bury it. We repress it. We actually don't think it is there. That is why so
many alcoholics don't really think that there is a problem. Shame is the
experience of being a "defective human being." Recovery helps us see that we
are a "human being with defects." This shift in our approach to ourselves,
helps us see ourselves as we really are and then repent and recover.
The Illusion of Control
that addicts experience is that they feel so out of control, that they
overcompensate by trying to control the externals--people, place, situation.
Letting go is foreign to the life of an addict. In essence, they are
"control freaks." We tend to think of negative situations involving control.
But control can be trying to make everyone happy. Not ever really telling
people that we are upset, because we don't want to upset the proverbial
apple cart which would ultimately make us feel out of control. We don't want
to be rejected, so we lie. Lying could be seen as form of control. We would
any of us lie, except to alter peoples perceptions of ourselves. God knows
that truth. We try to control our feelings. The more we seem to control, the
more out of control we feel. We use our drug of choice, to give us a false
sense of control.
The Paradoxes of Recovery
paradoxes become evident.
We surrender to win.
We give away to keep.
We suffer to get well.
We die in order to live.
We SURRENDER TO
WIN. We need to totally surrender unconditionally. We acknowledge that
we cannot win the battle against addiction and have totally made a mess of
our our life. We are better off if we stop running our life and let
God run it for us. We pray in Step 11, "asking only for God's will
and the power to carry it out." We are like a prisoner of war
who surrenders with our hands up and we do whatever our higher power tells
us to do.
AWAY TO KEEP. This strange expression identifies our selfishness and
understanding that we can only be healed as "we give away what God has given
us." "Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8)
When we are hoarding, greedy and stingy we are likely to use our addiction
again as we have left a state of Grace.
We SUFFER TO GET WELL. There
is no way to escape pain or suffering in this life. It is a truth that
most alcoholics as well as most people try to ignore. The alcoholic,
drug addict and sex addict use their substance to avoid suffering.
This is why they use. Many people reserve the term alcoholic for those
that really suffer--shaking, needing another drink, getting sick from
drinking. But perhaps they are numbing themselves in minor ways and
are too out of touch with themselves to identify that they are drinking as a
form of self medication. To recover, we must go through the pain.
We must learn to be mature and to face reality. Thankfully, the 12
steps help us face reality with the Grace of God.
We DIE TO
LIVE. This beautiful paradox comes right out of the biblical idea of "losing
our life" (Matt. 10:39) and denying one's self and carrying one's cross.
(Matt. 16:24) The harder we hold on to our life, the more it slips through
our fingers without us realizing it. (We call this white knuckling it)
But when we empty ourselves of our ego, and die to our dreams, our will and
our ways, God will give us life. We must die daily. While we may
decide to surrender at a certain point of time, we must surrender every
moment, so as to acquire God's grace to keep us sober. This only comes
through death, his and ours.