I’m often asked how sex addiction starts. What leads some men (and a surprisingly growing number of women) to become addicted to sex, pornography, or some other sexual behavior while others do not? In short, it’s about wounds and self-medicating.
Sex addiction has its beginnings, as with most addictions, with an emotional wound. These wounds were created in childhood through abuse or neglect which imprinted messages about who we are, what we are, and why we are. These messages about ourselves create our core beliefs. These are our rules and assumptions about the world, the lens through which we view ourselves and the world around us. Oh, and often they are lies. For example, a child who is sexually abused by a parent may come to believe that sex equals love or that they are simply here for others to use. Or a child whose parent was emotional absent might come to believe that others can’t be trusted and they can only depend on themselves to meet their emotional needs.
The reality is we all have wounds from childhood. And not everyone who is abused or neglected turns into an addict. The wounds simply lay the ground work to make addiction possible. Where addiction develops is how we attempt to sooth those wounds.
Emotional wounds are painful and as with all pain in our lives we tend to medicate ourselves to relieve the pain. We do this every time we have a headache. When a child is in emotional pain and does not have a healthy outlet in which to sooth themselves such as being comforted by a loving parent they turn to what ever is available. Usually it’s a substance or activity that is pleasurable. It might be music, sports, video games, food, or hanging out with friends. Or it could be drugs, pornography, or gangs. Anything to relieve or forget the pain. As they grow into adolescence and adulthood the behaviors may change and progress, but the root of why they engage in sexual behaviors is the same – to sooth emotional wounds.
That’s why at Renewal our group therapy for sexual addiction and sex related problems focuses on not only understanding how addiction forms and provides proven ways to change behaviors, but it goes to the core of the issue, the emotional wound, to provide true healing. Because if the wound is healed, the pain is gone. If the pain is gone, then medication is no longer required and the addiction cycle is broken
So how do you know if you are addicted to sex or pornography? Next week I’ll address the characteristics of addiction.
For more information about the Man to Man Healing Group focusing on sexual addiction and sex related problems, or to sign up for the group contact either of our two offices call in Port Huron 810-966-0099, or in Clinton Twp 586-783-2950.