CC # 7 – Getting Through Withdrawal ~ blog
If you or a loved one has used any number of potentially addictive behaviors to escape the pains or stresses of life you need to understand this. There will be a process of withdrawal which will make stopping these behaviors more difficult. Not everybody who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic or who uses sex as a means of escape is a sex addict.
However, for all of us, when we use these forms of medication and then stop using them our bodies must go through the process of withdrawal. We know that some things have greater addictive potential than others. A quick read on this website www.addictioncenter.com will tell you a lot about the 5 most addictive drugs on earth. They are …
Sex is not on the list because there is a controversy about whether to list sex as an addictive behavior among the powers that be and who classify such information. Whether the medical and psychological powers that be decide to say sex is addictive or not, we all know it is highly addictive and extremely difficult to stop using what is free and omnipresent.
My point is that when you have learned to use sex as a means to deal with the stress and problems of life, you find it extremely effective. The process of becoming aroused and then engaging in a sexual act floods our brains with chemicals that do an incredible job. They help us to …
- Forget problems and have an extreme focus on creating sexual desires.
- Shut down our prefrontal lobes where we have the ability to reason.
- Create a place where we lose track of time.
- Fill us with excitement and anticipation.
- Finally, cause a powerful and pleasurable explosion when we orgasm.
- Leave us with a sense of relief and calm.
- Enables us to go to sleep.
Now, these feelings are temporary and are replaced with shame, fear, anxiety, and anger as time passes. The result is that we feel worse afterward. Sex is the fix that fixes nothing and only leaves us with the same feelings, or even more, of stress, guilt, and pain that led us to act out in the first place. Those negative feelings only set us up to going through the whole process again. Thus, the cycle of addiction.
Many people learn the effectiveness of sex as a pain and stress reliever at an early age. Most of the men I work with say they were exposed to porn around the ages of 10-12. They found a magazine and started to use the images to masturbate and it felt really good. With the immediate availability of any kind of porn you might want through the internet, children are being exposed and a much higher rate to much more hardcore sex and the damage is much greater.
Eventually, something happens that causes one to realize that they need to stop committing sexual sins. Perhaps they get caught by their friend, parent, or spouse. They are having an affair and an email of text is discovered. They are driven to use prostitutes and get arrested for solicitation. Suddenly their secret life of sexual sin is exposed and they now know they need to stop.
Welcome to withdrawal. When one uses sex as a means of escaping through the incredible pleasure it brings and then determines that they are going to stop they will find themselves in a battle. Depending on how long they have been using sex and to what degree they have become entangled in deeper behaviors, like hooking up with other people or having multiple affairs, will determine how difficult the withdrawal will be.
The body has learned to really like these chemical releases that sex brings. The flood of dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, norepinephrine, and oxytocin in the brain becomes not only desired but needed for one to feel normal. What used to be normal has now become boring or worse and so there becomes a constant need for one to need these chemicals to handle the day to day issues of life.
What happens when one seeks to stop using sex as an escape is that they will be ok for a day or two. After a week, they will feel horrible. In two weeks, it is like their hair is on fire and they feel they must do something. Then they believe the lie that withdrawal is just going to keep getting worse and worse so they might as well give in and start again.
The lie is that things will not continue getting worse forever. After a while, these symptoms begin to diminish, and the battle gets easier. They start feeling better and it is like a fog is lifted in their thinking. They feel better about themselves because they are accomplishing something they know will be good for them and their loved ones.
So, how long will their withdrawal take? That is hard to say however for most people you should expect an average of 60 – 90 days. Again, it could be less or more depending on how long they have been using sex and to what degree they have gotten into more dangerous types of sexual behavior.
Lastly, let me say that there is a danger one should anticipate as they are coming out of withdrawal. Once one stops medicating their stress and pain with sex then the reasons for that stress and pain will need to be addressed. If you are using sex to not feel what your emotions are trying to get you to feel because you have been wounded, that pain will surface and will need to be dealt with or you will go back to sex or find another means of medication.
There very well may be deep emotional wounds that you have suffered that have not been addressed. You may have been abused in some way as a child or neglected. There may have been a failure to nurture in your family or you suffered rejection from others. Our emotional pain is not our enemy. It is our body and mind telling us that something is wrong and needs to be addressed.
I would encourage you to seriously consider finding a good Christian counselor who is trained in working with people who struggle with sexual brokenness and find out what may be driving this behavior. It may have been doing this for years if not decades. However, there is a healing that the Spirit can do at any level, and gaining knowledge about the wounds you have is part of the process of healing.
Lastly, I am a Certified Sex Addiction Coach by Dr. Doug Weiss’s American Association of Sex Addiction Therapists. I am available if you would be interested in one-on-one coaching. I do 6 sessions with individuals to help them get a solid foundation on which they can build their recovery.