243 – Overview of Sex & Pornography Addiction and Interventions
Counselor Toolbox

 
 
00:00 / 55:42
 
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Introduction to Addressing Sex and Pornography Addiction
Instructor: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Objectives
~ Define Sex Addiction
~ Identifying the Negative Messages
~ Understanding Addictive Triggers (Original and conditioned)
~ Mindfulness and Purposeful Action (Silencing the inner critic)
~ Getting to Know Yourself
~ Regaining Control: Essential DBT

Scenarios
~ John is a 53 year old man whose pornography use has gotten him fired, caused problems in his marriage, but he feels unable to stop
~ Sally is a 34 year old woman who reports an insatiable desire for sex which has caused problems in her marriage and led her to seek “other outlets” including during lunch breaks.
~ Sam is a 23 year old college student who reports masturbating 6 or more times a day every day. He sometimes leaves class to do it and it causes him distress that he thinks about it so much.
~ Questions
~ What is the function of sexual release for these people?
~ What is maintaining the compulsion?
Addiction is…
~ Any person, substance or activity
~ Used to escape from negative feelings (Emotional and Physical)
~ Continues to be used despite negative consequences
~ Emotional
~ Mental (self esteem/thought processes)
~ Physical (health and neurochemical balance)
~ Social Relationships
Obsessions and Compulsions
~ Obsessions are repetitive thoughts
~ Compulsions are activities done in order to escape negative feeling states
~ It is the only way the person currently has to stop or escape the negative feeling state
~ All addictions are compulsions, but all compulsions are not addictions
Sex and Pornography
~ Pornography addiction affords people never ending novelty which can lead to escalation
~ Sex addiction is the use of actual sex to get a rush
~ Love addiction may or may not involve sex, but the person may use sex as a means for ensuring he or she is not abandoned. If the person is out of a relationship he feels worthless, hopeless.
Riding the Addiction Train
~ Dopamine rush (Like Black Friday)
~ Brain shuts off receptors to prevent overload
~ Normal amounts of dopamine don’t produce the same feeling
~ Chasing the High/Tolerance
~ Requires artificially increasing dopamine through increased amount/intensity

Take Away Message
~ Addictive behaviors have:
~ Been the most reliable tool to help the person escape
~ Served a survival function
~ Become the one thing that won’t let him down or abandon him
~ Addictive behaviors and negative messages can be altered
First Things First: ReBalance
~ The brain has adjusted to frequent dopamine “rushes” so to feel “normal” the person may need to engage in stimulating behavior
~ The brain has adjusted to a level of stimulation such that traditional sex may fail to cause arousal
~ The person’s life has become imbalanced as the need for sexual stimulation increased it caused problems in on or more areas of their life
~ Interventions
~ Reduce sexual activity to only consensual sex between partners in a committed relationship

What Caused It?
~ Some triggers
~ Early sexual exploration, especially with pornography
~ Excessively using sex at any age to escape from negative feeling states
~ Using sex as a way to feel loved and quell fears of abandonment because of low self-esteem
~ Parental or societal emphasis on sex and sexuality
Identify the Roots of the Problem
~ Children are born with a blank slate
~ As they grow, the zone of proximal development and the more knowledgeable other influences what the child attends to/learns
~ What makes him lovable, good
~ How to cope with stress (or not)
~ Early learning is egocentric and dichotomous
~ Inconsistent or negative messages can be internalized by the child
Putting it together
~ During each stage of development, the child must accomplish certain tasks to avoid developing a negative self-image (Hecklers in the amphitheater)
~ If the person develops a negative self-image, and fails to develop healthy coping skills, then addictive behaviors may be used to escape
Identifying Negative Messages
~ Negative messages drive feelings of despair, anxiety and insecurity
~ When people want to use
~ Listen to what their addicted voice is saying to them
~ Identify other voices or messages they hear
~ Dialogue with the voices to learn more about where they came from (and how to shut them up)

Identifying Negative Messages
~ Cognitive Behavioral Theory
~ Thoughts, feelings and actions are all related
~ Everything you do is the result of a prior learning experience

Action/Event  Beliefs/Thoughts  Consequence/Reaction

So Now What
~ Mindfulness
~ Focus on the present moment not the past or the shoulds or coulds
~ People are not their thoughts
~ They are not the same people they were 10 years ago, or… yesterday
~ Mindfulness will help them become aware of their triggers
Triggers
Action  Beliefs  Consequences
Habits  Thoughts Feelings

Practice mindfulness/awareness
Mindfulness log
Cravings log

Trigger Review
~ Emotion
~ Smell
~ Taste
~ Touch
~ Sound
~ Time of day
~ Anniversary/ Date
~ Habit
~ Sights
~ Places
~ People
Dealing with Triggers
~ Distract
~ Ride the wave
~ Choose an alternative (less harmful) behavior
~ Countercondition the trigger
~ Dialogue with self
~ Write a goodbye letter to the voice
~ Complete the faulty beliefs activity
Faulty Beliefs Activity
~ What is the evidence for my thought?
~ Is there evidence contrary to my thought?
~ Do I have all the evidence?
~ Is this based on feelings or facts?
~ What would a friend think about this?
~ If I look at the situation positively, how is it different?
~ Will this matter a year from now?
Dealing with Triggers
~ Take away their power by viewing them as thoughts
~ Play the tape all the way through

Self Care and Relapse Prevention
~ It is harder to deal with life on life’s terms when you are:
~ Sick
~ In pain
~ Exhausted
~ Malnourished
~ Bored
~ Isolated
Relapse Prevention Plan
~ For each trigger, identify how you can deal with it or avoid it
~ Make a plan for taking better care of yourself
~ Create an emergency plan for dealing with relapse warning signs
~ Keep an emergency plan index card

Activities
to Help People Move Through the Recovery Process
More Than Meets The Eye
~ Alone and Still
~ You may try to stay busy when you are not using to give yourself something to focus on besides the voices, the habit or the pervasive discomfort.
~ What happens when you are still?
~ What positive activities can you do to stay busy while learning to silence the voices?

Essential Self Activity
~ Market yourself– Write a 1 page sales pitch about yourself
~ Refining your ideal image:
~ Spend 20 minutes writing a list of all of the qualities of your ideal self.
~ Mark off any qualities that you do not care about
~ Make a plan to achieve the ones you do

Saying Goodbye
~ Recovery involves saying goodbye to your hecklers
~ Your addict
~ Other negative people who have been living rent free in your head
~ Loss & Grief
~ Denial \ Anger | Bargaining | Depression | Acceptance
Intimacy and Vulnerability
~ Part of intimacy is vulnerability, both physical and emotional
~ What has happened in the past when you have been vulnerable?
~ What did you internalize from that experience?
~ Is that internalized message
~ Valid
~ Overgeneralized

Vulnerability Activity
~ Vulnerability means trust and letting go of some control
~ Think of 3 situations/ways in which you would like to be vulnerable

~ Remember that not everyone is trustworthy
Say No to Self Blame and Sabotage
~ Part 1: Be the Parent
~ Spend 30 minutes identifying the 10 most important messages for your child to receive and WHY.

~ Review those messages. Which ones did you fail to receive? How can you internalize those messages now?

Say No to Self Blame and Sabotage
~ Ongoing guilt, shame, self-blame and loathing is the result of ineffective past learning experiences
~ Addiction is used to escape from these feelings
~ You have 3 options
~ Sabotage yourself/relapse
~ Deal with the issue
~ Choose to not invest anymore energy in it
Don’t Forget
~ The skills and tools you have developed have allowed you to survive until now.
~ Your experiences have shaped who you are, but do not have to negatively impact your future
~ The 35 year old man has many more tools, experiences and supports than the 5 year old child
Don’t Forget
~ Give yourself permission to grieve. It sucked and it isn’t fair.
~ Continuing to keep your demons locked up drains precious energy.
~ What would happen if you accepted the past?
~ What does it mean if you quit holding on to it?
Summary
~ Sex addiction is real
~ Like other addictions it was the last ditch effort to survive.
~ Dealing with sex or pornography addiction involves
~ Healing/rebalancing brain chemistry
~ Dealing with any issues that you are trying to escape from
~ Finding alternate ways of dealing with stress to prevent neurochemical imbalance.

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