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Sex/Porn Addiction Recovery

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Gentlemen,

 

I wanted to open a can of worms for only one purpose ... to be helpful.  I AM RECOVERING FROM A PORN ADDICTION!

Hey, I put that in CAPS, bolded it and put an exclamation point!    I trust that the board can respect this post and realize the gravity of pain and humiliation I've endured for really most of my life.  I'll be brief with my story and save the details for anyone who might struggle as I have ... and we can visit over the phone ... if you are willing to take that step.

 

First off, I have been a child of God since 1984, went to seminary where I received a Masters in BS (Biblical Studies)  :-)  I've also been a Pastor for a few years and have had many years of real life ministry.  I say all that so that those who might not understand or who have a Christian background can relate and know that addiction is no respecter of persons ... AND ANYONE CAN STUMBLE AND FALL.  There is a great sense of shame, guilt, condemnation, self-pity and self-loathing that can accompany something embarrassing.  Thus, I'm sharing a bit of my story in hopes that if you are looking for a person you reach out to ... you will do so.  My life was in such great pain and I was spiraling past insanity and into a death. 

Anyway, over the past 5 years I lost my folks.  Mom died of cancer after a three year battle.  I avoided my Mom as she died.  I had many fears ... I just couldn't bear to see her go.  She died a few days before Christmas in 2013.  In 2014, a few days after Christmas, my Dad passed.  It was a total surprise and whatever cracks were in the "drywall" of my life now there was major foundation issues.  I was in a bad place.  My marriage of 25 years seemed to be on shaky ground as well.  I've always had abandonment issues in friendships/relationships and always felt inadequate as a man ... especially in the sexual area.  There is more to that story but won't air it here.

 

Anyway, in addiction, the view is that we all want "ease & comfort" as we deal with the pains and stress of life.  The Big Book of Alcoholic's Anonymous would call this "seeking an effect" to deal with the  "restlessness, irritability and discontentment" of life.  In any event, amidst the pain of this time of my life, something transpired in my that I will probably never understand.  Myself, probably like you, would take a hit of my "drug of choice" many times throughout my life.  I can remember sexual events when I was 6, 9 and 12 to start with.  I remember finding my first porn stash ... oh the rush.  I remember staying up late to watch MTV videos to get a "hit".  I remember watching movies to catch a particular actress or a scene.  As I look back, I was always taking "hits" and never really being able to answer the riddle of what was happening in me.  After all, I was a guy ... and I had normal desires just like every other guy.  I knew what I was doing wasn't necessarily odd.  Any way, much like a drinker, whether a moderate drinker or a heavy drinker ... it was always just for a time and it never seemed to be a problem that was noticeable and in my pride I was certainly not gonna acknowledge anything to myself or others.  I didn't see it as a problem ... the reality ... it probably wasn't a problem for me.

However, the internet blossomed and grew ... and with it came a whole array of opportunities to gratify my latest desires.  More than just the internet ... for me ... life was happening and I had the stresses of life just like anyone.  We all need a "hit" every now and then of our favorite "escape".  For me, I was in a happy marriage of 25 years and enjoying running my own family resort at Lake of the Ozarks and rearing three great boys.  Amidst life and frustrations, as the internet grew I would find those moments of frustration in my marriage and when rejected or frustrated I would "escape" those pains with a "hit" of my favorite pic or video.   It all felt so justified in my mind ... as the wife isn't putting out or interested ... and it's not like I'm going to strip clubs or prostitutes ... or the dreaded affair ... so it was okay.  Yet again, the internet kept developing and over the next 10 years my marriage relationship became more "uninteresting" and as everything progressed so did my progressing toward accepting more and more of the "escape" I was enjoying.  There was an obsession that began happening in my mind and I was trying to control and enjoy my "acting out" times and felt that I could lie and deceive enough to keep enjoying what I wanted to enjoy.  I thought I had creation an illusion and that I was a magician who was getting away with it.  Amidst becoming more selfish and self-centered ... my Mom had now passed ... then my Dad ... and amidst all this pain when I wanted some "ease & comfort" I would frequent my "drug of choice".  What perhaps at times was two minutes or twenty minutes ... now progressed to two hours or even worse ... two days.  "The alcoholic in his cups is quite an unlovely creation."  I can't begin to describe to you what this can look like if you fall into a porn addiction or a sex addiction.

On March of 2017 my wife of 25 years initiated a divorce with me (I'm 53 years of age by the way).  It was the final blow to my world.  I love my wife and the last thing I would have ever wanted would be to be separated from her.  As I left the dream house in the Smoky Mountains of Maggie Valley, NC ... what I lost was an amazing woman, my three Baker boys, my two puppy dogs ... and really just a broken and crushed spirit.  I came back to Dallas, TX and lived with my brother for 6 months.  I was so lost, wounded and broken.  I got into therapy for what I thought was a porn/sex addiction.  I took a test and the Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) said that on a scale of 0-20 that I was a 15 and that I was a sex addict and if I was a 16 would be clinical and would probably need to be put into an institution.  This was crushing.  I entered into therapy ... which didn't help me much.  At the same time I also started attending a local Sex Addicts Anonymous recovery group.  There I would discover via the chart I'm including in this post what was happening in my brain.  It describes the three-part progressive illness of addiction and helped me to understand the physical cravings that I was experiencing and more importantly the mental obsession that was in my mind.  The root of it all ... as described ... was a spiritual malady.  I began to understand that I was a really sick person in my mind and that my life was truly spiraling past insanity and into death.  That week I would grab a Sponsor who had recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body.  He took me through the 12 Steps of Alcoholic's Anonymous and we just simply substituted alcohol with my drug of choice ... porn.  

It's now been 14 months since I started on my recovery journey.  My sobriety date is April 24 of last year.  The 12 Step tribe I'm a part of in Dallas is an amazing group of men who have even far worse tragedies then mine.  At out meetings, where we spend time reading the 164 pages of Big Book and study how to apply the Steps, I've found a tribe of men who are recovering.  Some 7 years, some 4-5 years, quite a few have 2-3 years ... and there are now many like me ... who are now at over a year.  

THERE IS REAL HOPE!

 

If you have read this whole post ... and I'm talking to you ... you are hearing what I'm saying and you need some help ... please take some time to message me.  I'm willing to meet you at your comfort level and give you some options.  I'm also going to use this post to add some additional posts and helpful material and ideas for those who might not have the stamina to reach out.  Trust me ... I get that.  Please, I want you to know how loved you are.  This has been the most humiliating thing in my life ... I'm sure you get that ... but wow, amidst all this tragedy God is taking the million pieces of my broken life ... and making something beautiful out of it.  There really is hope.  FYI, my wife has not said a word to me in 14 months ... she is completely done.  My three boys don't speak to me.  Father's Day ... well, it was completely quiet.  I have not seen my puppy's either.  Yet, amidst all of this pain ... God has kept me sober ... and is doing for me what I could not do for myself.

Husker fans pride themselves on being the "Greatest Fans" ... and we are.  "There is also no place like Nebraska" ... and there really isn't!  Guys, I've laid my heart out there ... this is my story.  I know how this post will be treated and respected ... I'm grateful for that.

 

Mark B in Sherman, TX

A grateful recovering sex addict

 

PS.   Anonymity is very important ... and a tradition to be respected.  I've broken it to help.  Please protect me and my story.  I am a fellow human being.  I have many faults.  I've shared this to be of help.  Finally, I am only representing myself in this share and not any particular 12 Step group.  Pass

 

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Johann Hari gives a great Ted Talk about addiction.  I love this video.  He ends the talk with a statement I quote frequently now ...

 

"The opposite of addiction is not sobriety.  The opposite of addiction is connection."

 

I've found this to be so very true.  If you got 15 minutes, check out the video.

 

 

Here is the transcript if you can't understand via his dialect.

 

One of my earliest memories is of trying to wake up one of my relatives and not being able to. And I was just a little kid, so I didn't really understand why, but as I got older, I realized we had drug addiction in my family, including later cocaine addiction.


00:13
I'd been thinking about it a lot lately, partly because it's now exactly 100 years since drugs were first banned in the United States and Britain, and we then imposed that on the rest of the world. It's a century since we made this really fateful decision to take addicts and punish them and make them suffer, because we believed that would deter them; it would give them an incentive to stop.


00:36
And a few years ago, I was looking at some of the addicts in my life who I love, and trying to figure out if there was some way to help them. And I realized there were loads of incredibly basic questions I just didn't know the answer to, like, what really causes addiction? Why do we carry on with this approach that doesn't seem to be working, and is there a better way out there that we could try instead?


00:58
So I read loads of stuff about it, and I couldn't really find the answers I was looking for, so I thought, okay, I'll go and sit with different people around the world who lived this and studied this and talk to them and see if I could learn from them. And I didn't realize I would end up going over 30,000 miles at the start, but I ended up going and meeting loads of different people, from a transgender crack dealer in Brownsville, Brooklyn, to a scientist who spends a lot of time feeding hallucinogens to mongooses to see if they like them -- it turns out they do, but only in very specific circumstances -- to the only country that's ever decriminalized all drugs, from cannabis to crack, Portugal. And the thing I realized that really blew my mind is, almost everything we think we know about addiction is wrong, and if we start to absorb the new evidence about addiction, I think we're going to have to change a lot more than our drug policies.


01:46
But let's start with what we think we know, what I thought I knew. Let's think about this middle row here. Imagine all of you, for 20 days now, went off and used heroin three times a day. Some of you look a little more enthusiastic than others at this prospect. (Laughter) Don't worry, it's just a thought experiment. Imagine you did that, right? What would happen? Now, we have a story about what would happen that we've been told for a century. We think, because there are chemical hooks in heroin, as you took it for a while, your body would become dependent on those hooks, you'd start to physically need them, and at the end of those 20 days, you'd all be heroin addicts. Right? That's what I thought.


02:22
First thing that alerted me to the fact that something's not right with this story is when it was explained to me. If I step out of this TED Talk today and I get hit by a car and I break my hip, I'll be taken to hospital and I'll be given loads of diamorphine. Diamorphine is heroin. It's actually much better heroin than you're going to buy on the streets, because the stuff you buy from a drug dealer is contaminated. Actually, very little of it is heroin, whereas the stuff you get from the doctor is medically pure. And you'll be given it for quite a long period of time. There are loads of people in this room, you may not realize it, you've taken quite a lot of heroin. And anyone who is watching this anywhere in the world, this is happening. And if what we believe about addiction is right -- those people are exposed to all those chemical hooks -- What should happen? They should become addicts. This has been studied really carefully. It doesn't happen; you will have noticed if your grandmother had a hip replacement, she didn't come out as a junkie. (Laughter)


03:14
And when I learned this, it seemed so weird to me, so contrary to everything I'd been told, everything I thought I knew, I just thought it couldn't be right, until I met a man called Bruce Alexander. He's a professor of psychology in Vancouver who carried out an incredible experiment I think really helps us to understand this issue. Professor Alexander explained to me, the idea of addiction we've all got in our heads, that story, comes partly from a series of experiments that were done earlier in the 20th century. They're really simple. You can do them tonight at home if you feel a little sadistic. You get a rat and you put it in a cage, and you give it two water bottles: One is just water, and the other is water laced with either heroin or cocaine. If you do that, the rat will almost always prefer the drug water and almost always kill itself quite quickly. So there you go, right? That's how we think it works. In the '70s, Professor Alexander comes along and he looks at this experiment and he noticed something. He said ah, we're putting the rat in an empty cage. It's got nothing to do except use these drugs. Let's try something different. So Professor Alexander built a cage that he called "Rat Park," which is basically heaven for rats. They've got loads of cheese, they've got loads of colored balls, they've got loads of tunnels. Crucially, they've got loads of friends. They can have loads of sex. And they've got both the water bottles, the normal water and the drugged water. But here's the fascinating thing: In Rat Park, they don't like the drug water. They almost never use it. None of them ever use it compulsively. None of them ever overdose. You go from almost 100 percent overdose when they're isolated to zero percent overdose when they have happy and connected lives.


04:47
Now, when he first saw this, Professor Alexander thought, maybe this is just a thing about rats, they're quite different to us. Maybe not as different as we'd like, but, you know -- But fortunately, there was a human experiment into the exact same principle happening at the exact same time. It was called the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, 20 percent of all American troops were using loads of heroin, and if you look at the news reports from the time, they were really worried, because they thought, my God, we're going to have hundreds of thousands of junkies on the streets of the United States when the war ends; it made total sense. Now, those soldiers who were using loads of heroin were followed home. The Archives of General Psychiatry did a really detailed study, and what happened to them? It turns out they didn't go to rehab. They didn't go into withdrawal. Ninety-five percent of them just stopped. Now, if you believe the story about chemical hooks, that makes absolutely no sense, but Professor Alexander began to think there might be a different story about addiction. He said, what if addiction isn't about your chemical hooks? What if addiction is about your cage? What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?


05:52
Looking at this, there was another professor called Peter Cohen in the Netherlands who said, maybe we shouldn't even call it addiction. Maybe we should call it bonding. Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond, and when we're happy and healthy, we'll bond and connect with each other, but if you can't do that, because you're traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief. Now, that might be gambling, that might be pornography, that might be cocaine, that might be cannabis, but you will bond and connect with something because that's our nature. That's what we want as human beings.


06:28
And at first, I found this quite a difficult thing to get my head around, but one way that helped me to think about it is, I can see, I've got over by my seat a bottle of water, right? I'm looking at lots of you, and lots of you have bottles of water with you. Forget the drugs. Forget the drug war. Totally legally, all of those bottles of water could be bottles of vodka, right? We could all be getting drunk -- I might after this -- (Laughter) -- but we're not. Now, because you've been able to afford the approximately gazillion pounds that it costs to get into a TED Talk, I'm guessing you guys could afford to be drinking vodka for the next six months. You wouldn't end up homeless. You're not going to do that, and the reason you're not going to do that is not because anyone's stopping you. It's because you've got bonds and connections that you want to be present for. You've got work you love. You've got people you love. You've got healthy relationships. And a core part of addiction, I came to think, and I believe the evidence suggests, is about not being able to bear to be present in your life.


07:26
Now, this has really significant implications. The most obvious implications are for the War on Drugs. In Arizona, I went out with a group of women who were made to wear t-shirts saying, "I was a drug addict," and go out on chain gangs and dig graves while members of the public jeer at them, and when those women get out of prison, they're going to have criminal records that mean they'll never work in the legal economy again. Now, that's a very extreme example, obviously, in the case of the chain gang, but actually almost everywhere in the world we treat addicts to some degree like that. We punish them. We shame them. We give them criminal records. We put barriers between them reconnecting. There was a doctor in Canada, Dr. Gabor Maté, an amazing man, who said to me, if you wanted to design a system that would make addiction worse, you would design that system.


08:12
Now, there's a place that decided to do the exact opposite, and I went there to see how it worked. In the year 2000, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe. One percent of the population was addicted to heroin, which is kind of mind-blowing, and every year, they tried the American way more and more. They punished people and stigmatized them and shamed them more, and every year, the problem got worse. And one day, the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition got together, and basically said, look, we can't go on with a country where we're having ever more people becoming heroin addicts. Let's set up a panel of scientists and doctors to figure out what would genuinely solve the problem. And they set up a panel led by an amazing man called Dr. João Goulão, to look at all this new evidence, and they came back and they said, "Decriminalize all drugs from cannabis to crack, but" -- and this is the crucial next step -- "take all the money we used to spend on cutting addicts off, on disconnecting them, and spend it instead on reconnecting them with society." And that's not really what we think of as drug treatment in the United States and Britain. So they do do residential rehab, they do psychological therapy, that does have some value. But the biggest thing they did was the complete opposite of what we do: a massive program of job creation for addicts, and microloans for addicts to set up small businesses. So say you used to be a mechanic. When you're ready, they'll go to a garage, and they'll say, if you employ this guy for a year, we'll pay half his wages. The goal was to make sure that every addict in Portugal had something to get out of bed for in the morning. And when I went and met the addicts in Portugal, what they said is, as they rediscovered purpose, they rediscovered bonds and relationships with the wider society.


09:49
It'll be 15 years this year since that experiment began, and the results are in: injecting drug use is down in Portugal, according to the British Journal of Criminology, by 50 percent, five-zero percent. Overdose is massively down, HIV is massively down among addicts. Addiction in every study is significantly down. One of the ways you know it's worked so well is that almost nobody in Portugal wants to go back to the old system.


10:12
Now, that's the political implications. I actually think there's a layer of implications to all this research below that. We live in a culture where people feel really increasingly vulnerable to all sorts of addictions, whether it's to their smartphones or to shopping or to eating. Before these talks began -- you guys know this -- we were told we weren't allowed to have our smartphones on, and I have to say, a lot of you looked an awful lot like addicts who were told their dealer was going to be unavailable for the next couple of hours. (Laughter) A lot of us feel like that, and it might sound weird to say, I've been talking about how disconnection is a major driver of addiction and weird to say it's growing, because you think we're the most connected society that's ever been, surely. But I increasingly began to think that the connections we have or think we have, are like a kind of parody of human connection. If you have a crisis in your life, you'll notice something. It won't be your Twitter followers who come to sit with you. It won't be your Facebook friends who help you turn it round. It'll be your flesh and blood friends who you have deep and nuanced and textured, face-to-face relationships with, and there's a study I learned about from Bill McKibben, the environmental writer, that I think tells us a lot about this. It looked at the number of close friends the average American believes they can call on in a crisis. That number has been declining steadily since the 1950s. The amount of floor space an individual has in their home has been steadily increasing, and I think that's like a metaphor for the choice we've made as a culture. We've traded floorspace for friends, we've traded stuff for connections, and the result is we are one of the loneliest societies there has ever been. And Bruce Alexander, the guy who did the Rat Park experiment, says, we talk all the time in addiction about individual recovery, and it's right to talk about that, but we need to talk much more about social recovery. Something's gone wrong with us, not just with individuals but as a group, and we've created a society where, for a lot of us, life looks a whole lot more like that isolated cage and a whole lot less like Rat Park.


12:04
If I'm honest, this isn't why I went into it. I didn't go in to the discover the political stuff, the social stuff. I wanted to know how to help the people I love. And when I came back from this long journey and I'd learned all this, I looked at the addicts in my life, and if you're really candid, it's hard loving an addict, and there's going to be lots of people who know in this room. You are angry a lot of the time, and I think one of the reasons why this debate is so charged is because it runs through the heart of each of us, right? Everyone has a bit of them that looks at an addict and thinks, I wish someone would just stop you. And the kind of scripts we're told for how to deal with the addicts in our lives is typified by, I think, the reality show "Intervention," if you guys have ever seen it. I think everything in our lives is defined by reality TV, but that's another TED Talk. If you've ever seen the show "Intervention," it's a pretty simple premise. Get an addict, all the people in their life, gather them together, confront them with what they're doing, and they say, if you don't shape up, we're going to cut you off. So what they do is they take the connection to the addict, and they threaten it, they make it contingent on the addict behaving the way they want. And I began to think, I began to see why that approach doesn't work, and I began to think that's almost like the importing of the logic of the Drug War into our private lives.


13:22
So I was thinking, how could I be Portuguese? And what I've tried to do now, and I can't tell you I do it consistently and I can't tell you it's easy, is to say to the addicts in my life that I want to deepen the connection with them, to say to them, I love you whether you're using or you're not. I love you, whatever state you're in, and if you need me, I'll come and sit with you because I love you and I don't want you to be alone or to feel alone.


13:49
And I think the core of that message -- you're not alone, we love you -- has to be at every level of how we respond to addicts, socially, politically and individually. For 100 years now, we've been singing war songs about addicts. I think all along we should have been singing love songs to them, because the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.


14:16
Thank you.

 
01:10

So I read loads of stuff about it, and I couldn't really find the answers I was looking for, so I thought, okay, I'll go and sit with different people around the world who lived this and studied this and talk to them and see if I could learn from them. And I didn't realize I would end up going over 30,000 miles at the start, but I ended up going and meeting loads of different people, from a transgender crack dealer in Brownsville, Brooklyn, to a scientist who spends a lot of time feeding hallucinogens to mongooses to see if they like them -- it turns out they do, but only in very specific circumstances -- to the only country that's ever decriminalized all drugs, from cannabis to crack, Portugal. And the thing I realized that really blew my mind is, almost everything we think we know about addiction is wrong, and if we start to absorb the new evidence about addiction, I think we're going to have to change a lot more than our drug policies.

 
02:34

First thing that alerted me to the fact that something's not right with this story is when it was explained to me. If I step out of this TED Talk today and I get hit by a car and I break my hip, I'll be taken to hospital and I'll be given loads of diamorphine. Diamorphine is heroin. It's actually much better heroin than you're going to buy on the streets, because the stuff you buy from a drug dealer is contaminated. Actually, very little of it is heroin, whereas the stuff you get from the doctor is medically pure. And you'll be given it for quite a long period of time. There are loads of people in this room, you may not realize it, you've taken quite a lot of heroin. And anyone who is watching this anywhere in the world, this is happening. And if what we believe about addiction is right -- those people are exposed to all those chemical hooks -- What should happen? They should become addicts. This has been studied really carefully. It doesn't happen; you will have noticed if your grandmother had a hip replacement, she didn't come out as a junkie. (Laughter)

 
03:26

And when I learned this, it seemed so weird to me, so contrary to everything I'd been told, everything I thought I knew, I just thought it couldn't be right, until I met a man called Bruce Alexander. He's a professor of psychology in Vancouver who carried out an incredible experiment I think really helps us to understand this issue. Professor Alexander explained to me, the idea of addiction we've all got in our heads, that story, comes partly from a series of experiments that were done earlier in the 20th century. They're really simple. You can do them tonight at home if you feel a little sadistic. You get a rat and you put it in a cage, and you give it two water bottles: One is just water, and the other is water laced with either heroin or cocaine. If you do that, the rat will almost always prefer the drug water and almost always kill itself quite quickly. So there you go, right? That's how we think it works. In the '70s, Professor Alexander comes along and he looks at this experiment and he noticed something. He said ah, we're putting the rat in an empty cage. It's got nothing to do except use these drugs. Let's try something different. So Professor Alexander built a cage that he called "Rat Park," which is basically heaven for rats. They've got loads of cheese, they've got loads of colored balls, they've got loads of tunnels. Crucially, they've got loads of friends. They can have loads of sex.And they've got both the water bottles, the normal water and the drugged water. But here's the fascinating thing: In Rat Park, they don't like the drug water. They almost never use it. None of them ever use it compulsively. None of them ever overdose. You go from almost 100 percent overdose when they're isolated to zero percent overdose when they have happy and connected lives.

 
04:59

Now, when he first saw this, Professor Alexander thought, maybe this is just a thing about rats, they're quite different to us. Maybe not as different as we'd like, but, you know -- But fortunately, there was a human experiment into the exact same principle happening at the exact same time. It was called the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, 20 percent of all American troops were using loads of heroin, and if you look at the news reports from the time, they were really worried, because they thought, my God, we're going to have hundreds of thousands of junkies on the streets of the United States when the war ends; it made total sense. Now, those soldiers who were using loads of heroin were followed home. The Archives of General Psychiatry did a really detailed study, and what happened to them? It turns out they didn't go to rehab. They didn't go into withdrawal. Ninety-five percent of them just stopped. Now, if you believe the story about chemical hooks, that makes absolutely no sense, but Professor Alexander began to thinkthere might be a different story about addiction. He said, what if addiction isn't about your chemical hooks? What if addiction is about your cage? What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?

 
06:40

And at first, I found this quite a difficult thing to get my head around, but one way that helped me to think about it is, I can see, I've got over by my seat a bottle of water, right? I'm looking at lots of you, and lots of you have bottles of water with you. Forget the drugs. Forget the drug war. Totally legally, all of those bottles of water could be bottles of vodka, right? We could all be getting drunk -- I might after this -- (Laughter) -- but we're not. Now, because you've been able to afford the approximately gazillion pounds that it costs to get into a TED Talk, I'm guessing you guys could afford to be drinking vodka for the next six months. You wouldn't end up homeless. You're not going to do that, and the reason you're not going to do that is not because anyone's stopping you. It's because you've got bonds and connections that you want to be present for. You've got work you love. You've got people you love. You've got healthy relationships. And a core part of addiction, I came to think, and I believe the evidence suggests, is about not being able to bear to be present in your life.

 
07:38

Now, this has really significant implications. The most obvious implications are for the War on Drugs. In Arizona, I went out with a group of women who were made to wear t-shirts saying, "I was a drug addict," and go out on chain gangs and dig graves while members of the public jeer at them, and when those women get out of prison, they're going to have criminal records that mean they'll never work in the legal economy again. Now, that's a very extreme example, obviously, in the case of the chain gang, but actually almost everywhere in the world we treat addicts to some degree like that. We punish them. We shame them. We give them criminal records. We put barriers between them reconnecting. There was a doctor in Canada, Dr. Gabor Maté, an amazing man, who said to me, if you wanted to design a system that would make addiction worse, you would design that system.

 
08:24

Now, there's a place that decided to do the exact opposite, and I went there to see how it worked. In the year 2000, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe. One percent of the population was addicted to heroin, which is kind of mind-blowing, and every year, they tried the American way more and more. They punished people and stigmatized them and shamed them more, and every year, the problem got worse. And one day, the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition got together, and basically said, look, we can't go on with a country where we're having ever more people becoming heroin addicts. Let's set up a panel of scientists and doctors to figure out what would genuinely solve the problem. And they set up a panel led by an amazing man called Dr. João Goulão, to look at all this new evidence, and they came back and they said, "Decriminalize all drugs from cannabis to crack, but" -- and this is the crucial next step -- "take all the money we used to spend on cutting addicts off, on disconnecting them,and spend it instead on reconnecting them with society." And that's not really what we think of as drug treatment in the United States and Britain. So they do do residential rehab, they do psychological therapy, that does have some value. But the biggest thing they did was the complete opposite of what we do: a massive program of job creation for addicts, and microloans for addicts to set up small businesses. So say you used to be a mechanic. When you're ready, they'll go to a garage, and they'll say, if you employ this guy for a year, we'll pay half his wages. The goal was to make sure that every addict in Portugal had something to get out of bed for in the morning. And when I went and met the addicts in Portugal, what they said is, as they rediscovered purpose, they rediscovered bonds and relationships with the wider society.

 
10:24

Now, that's the political implications. I actually think there's a layer of implications to all this research below that. We live in a culture where people feel really increasingly vulnerable to all sorts of addictions, whether it's to their smartphones or to shopping or to eating. Before these talks began -- you guys know this -- we were told we weren't allowed to have our smartphones on, and I have to say, a lot of you looked an awful lot like addicts who were told their dealer was going to be unavailable for the next couple of hours. (Laughter) A lot of us feel like that, and it might sound weird to say, I've been talking about how disconnection is a major driver of addiction and weird to say it's growing, because you think we're the most connected society that's ever been, surely. But I increasingly began to think that the connections we have or think we have, are like a kind of parody of human connection. If you have a crisis in your life, you'll notice something. It won't be your Twitter followers who come to sit with you. It won't be your Facebook friends who help you turn it round. It'll be your flesh and blood friends who you have deep and nuancedand textured, face-to-face relationships with, and there's a study I learned about from Bill McKibben, the environmental writer, that I think tells us a lot about this. It looked at the number of close friends the average American believes they can call on in a crisis. That number has been declining steadily since the 1950s. The amount of floor space an individual has in their home has been steadily increasing, and I think that's like a metaphor for the choice we've made as a culture. We've traded floorspace for friends, we've traded stuff for connections, and the result is we are one of the loneliest societies there has ever been. And Bruce Alexander, the guy who did the Rat Park experiment, says, we talk all the time in addiction about individual recovery, and it's right to talk about that, but we need to talk much more about social recovery. Something's gone wrong with us, not just with individuals but as a group, and we've created a society where, for a lot of us, life looks a whole lot more like that isolated cage and a whole lot less like Rat Park.

 
12:16

If I'm honest, this isn't why I went into it. I didn't go in to the discover the political stuff, the social stuff. I wanted to know how to help the people I love. And when I came back from this long journey and I'd learned all this, I looked at the addicts in my life, and if you're really candid, it's hard loving an addict, and there's going to be lots of people who know in this room. You are angry a lot of the time, and I think one of the reasons why this debate is so charged is because it runs through the heart of each of us, right? Everyone has a bit of them that looks at an addict and thinks, I wish someone would just stop you. And the kind of scripts we're told for how to deal with the addicts in our lives is typified by, I think, the reality show "Intervention," if you guys have ever seen it. I think everything in our lives is defined by reality TV, but that's another TED Talk. If you've ever seen the show "Intervention," it's a pretty simple premise. Get an addict, all the people in their life, gather them together, confront them with what they're doing, and they say, if you don't shape up, we're going to cut you off. So what they do is they take the connection to the addict,and they threaten it, they make it contingent on the addict behaving the way they want. And I began to think, I began to see why that approach doesn't work, and I began to think that's almost like the importing of the logic of the Drug War into our private lives.

 
14:28

 

 
01:10

So I read loads of stuff about it, and I couldn't really find the answers I was looking for, so I thought, okay, I'll go and sit with different people around the world who lived this and studied this and talk to them and see if I could learn from them. And I didn't realize I would end up going over 30,000 miles at the start, but I ended up going and meeting loads of different people, from a transgender crack dealer in Brownsville, Brooklyn, to a scientist who spends a lot of time feeding hallucinogens to mongooses to see if they like them -- it turns out they do, but only in very specific circumstances -- to the only country that's ever decriminalized all drugs, from cannabis to crack, Portugal. And the thing I realized that really blew my mind is, almost everything we think we know about addiction is wrong, and if we start to absorb the new evidence about addiction, I think we're going to have to change a lot more than our drug policies.

 
02:34

First thing that alerted me to the fact that something's not right with this story is when it was explained to me. If I step out of this TED Talk today and I get hit by a car and I break my hip, I'll be taken to hospital and I'll be given loads of diamorphine. Diamorphine is heroin. It's actually much better heroin than you're going to buy on the streets, because the stuff you buy from a drug dealer is contaminated. Actually, very little of it is heroin, whereas the stuff you get from the doctor is medically pure. And you'll be given it for quite a long period of time. There are loads of people in this room, you may not realize it, you've taken quite a lot of heroin. And anyone who is watching this anywhere in the world, this is happening. And if what we believe about addiction is right -- those people are exposed to all those chemical hooks -- What should happen? They should become addicts. This has been studied really carefully. It doesn't happen; you will have noticed if your grandmother had a hip replacement, she didn't come out as a junkie. (Laughter)

 
03:26

And when I learned this, it seemed so weird to me, so contrary to everything I'd been told, everything I thought I knew, I just thought it couldn't be right, until I met a man called Bruce Alexander. He's a professor of psychology in Vancouver who carried out an incredible experiment I think really helps us to understand this issue. Professor Alexander explained to me, the idea of addiction we've all got in our heads, that story, comes partly from a series of experiments that were done earlier in the 20th century. They're really simple. You can do them tonight at home if you feel a little sadistic. You get a rat and you put it in a cage, and you give it two water bottles: One is just water, and the other is water laced with either heroin or cocaine. If you do that, the rat will almost always prefer the drug water and almost always kill itself quite quickly. So there you go, right? That's how we think it works. In the '70s, Professor Alexander comes along and he looks at this experiment and he noticed something. He said ah, we're putting the rat in an empty cage. It's got nothing to do except use these drugs. Let's try something different. So Professor Alexander built a cage that he called "Rat Park," which is basically heaven for rats. They've got loads of cheese, they've got loads of colored balls, they've got loads of tunnels. Crucially, they've got loads of friends. They can have loads of sex.And they've got both the water bottles, the normal water and the drugged water. But here's the fascinating thing: In Rat Park, they don't like the drug water. They almost never use it. None of them ever use it compulsively. None of them ever overdose. You go from almost 100 percent overdose when they're isolated to zero percent overdose when they have happy and connected lives.

 
04:59

Now, when he first saw this, Professor Alexander thought, maybe this is just a thing about rats, they're quite different to us. Maybe not as different as we'd like, but, you know -- But fortunately, there was a human experiment into the exact same principle happening at the exact same time. It was called the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, 20 percent of all American troops were using loads of heroin, and if you look at the news reports from the time, they were really worried, because they thought, my God, we're going to have hundreds of thousands of junkies on the streets of the United States when the war ends; it made total sense. Now, those soldiers who were using loads of heroin were followed home. The Archives of General Psychiatry did a really detailed study, and what happened to them? It turns out they didn't go to rehab. They didn't go into withdrawal. Ninety-five percent of them just stopped. Now, if you believe the story about chemical hooks, that makes absolutely no sense, but Professor Alexander began to thinkthere might be a different story about addiction. He said, what if addiction isn't about your chemical hooks? What if addiction is about your cage? What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?

 
06:40

And at first, I found this quite a difficult thing to get my head around, but one way that helped me to think about it is, I can see, I've got over by my seat a bottle of water, right? I'm looking at lots of you, and lots of you have bottles of water with you. Forget the drugs. Forget the drug war. Totally legally, all of those bottles of water could be bottles of vodka, right? We could all be getting drunk -- I might after this -- (Laughter) -- but we're not. Now, because you've been able to afford the approximately gazillion pounds that it costs to get into a TED Talk, I'm guessing you guys could afford to be drinking vodka for the next six months. You wouldn't end up homeless. You're not going to do that, and the reason you're not going to do that is not because anyone's stopping you. It's because you've got bonds and connections that you want to be present for. You've got work you love. You've got people you love. You've got healthy relationships. And a core part of addiction, I came to think, and I believe the evidence suggests, is about not being able to bear to be present in your life.

 
07:38

Now, this has really significant implications. The most obvious implications are for the War on Drugs. In Arizona, I went out with a group of women who were made to wear t-shirts saying, "I was a drug addict," and go out on chain gangs and dig graves while members of the public jeer at them, and when those women get out of prison, they're going to have criminal records that mean they'll never work in the legal economy again. Now, that's a very extreme example, obviously, in the case of the chain gang, but actually almost everywhere in the world we treat addicts to some degree like that. We punish them. We shame them. We give them criminal records. We put barriers between them reconnecting. There was a doctor in Canada, Dr. Gabor Maté, an amazing man, who said to me, if you wanted to design a system that would make addiction worse, you would design that system.

 
08:24

Now, there's a place that decided to do the exact opposite, and I went there to see how it worked. In the year 2000, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe. One percent of the population was addicted to heroin, which is kind of mind-blowing, and every year, they tried the American way more and more. They punished people and stigmatized them and shamed them more, and every year, the problem got worse. And one day, the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition got together, and basically said, look, we can't go on with a country where we're having ever more people becoming heroin addicts. Let's set up a panel of scientists and doctors to figure out what would genuinely solve the problem. And they set up a panel led by an amazing man called Dr. João Goulão, to look at all this new evidence, and they came back and they said, "Decriminalize all drugs from cannabis to crack, but" -- and this is the crucial next step -- "take all the money we used to spend on cutting addicts off, on disconnecting them,and spend it instead on reconnecting them with society." And that's not really what we think of as drug treatment in the United States and Britain. So they do do residential rehab, they do psychological therapy, that does have some value. But the biggest thing they did was the complete opposite of what we do: a massive program of job creation for addicts, and microloans for addicts to set up small businesses. So say you used to be a mechanic. When you're ready, they'll go to a garage, and they'll say, if you employ this guy for a year, we'll pay half his wages. The goal was to make sure that every addict in Portugal had something to get out of bed for in the morning. And when I went and met the addicts in Portugal, what they said is, as they rediscovered purpose, they rediscovered bonds and relationships with the wider society.

 
10:24

Now, that's the political implications. I actually think there's a layer of implications to all this research below that. We live in a culture where people feel really increasingly vulnerable to all sorts of addictions, whether it's to their smartphones or to shopping or to eating. Before these talks began -- you guys know this -- we were told we weren't allowed to have our smartphones on, and I have to say, a lot of you looked an awful lot like addicts who were told their dealer was going to be unavailable for the next couple of hours. (Laughter) A lot of us feel like that, and it might sound weird to say, I've been talking about how disconnection is a major driver of addiction and weird to say it's growing, because you think we're the most connected society that's ever been, surely. But I increasingly began to think that the connections we have or think we have, are like a kind of parody of human connection. If you have a crisis in your life, you'll notice something. It won't be your Twitter followers who come to sit with you. It won't be your Facebook friends who help you turn it round. It'll be your flesh and blood friends who you have deep and nuancedand textured, face-to-face relationships with, and there's a study I learned about from Bill McKibben, the environmental writer, that I think tells us a lot about this. It looked at the number of close friends the average American believes they can call on in a crisis. That number has been declining steadily since the 1950s. The amount of floor space an individual has in their home has been steadily increasing, and I think that's like a metaphor for the choice we've made as a culture. We've traded floorspace for friends, we've traded stuff for connections, and the result is we are one of the loneliest societies there has ever been. And Bruce Alexander, the guy who did the Rat Park experiment, says, we talk all the time in addiction about individual recovery, and it's right to talk about that, but we need to talk much more about social recovery. Something's gone wrong with us, not just with individuals but as a group, and we've created a society where, for a lot of us, life looks a whole lot more like that isolated cage and a whole lot less like Rat Park.

 
12:16

If I'm honest, this isn't why I went into it. I didn't go in to the discover the political stuff, the social stuff. I wanted to know how to help the people I love. And when I came back from this long journey and I'd learned all this, I looked at the addicts in my life, and if you're really candid, it's hard loving an addict, and there's going to be lots of people who know in this room. You are angry a lot of the time, and I think one of the reasons why this debate is so charged is because it runs through the heart of each of us, right? Everyone has a bit of them that looks at an addict and thinks, I wish someone would just stop you. And the kind of scripts we're told for how to deal with the addicts in our lives is typified by, I think, the reality show "Intervention," if you guys have ever seen it. I think everything in our lives is defined by reality TV, but that's another TED Talk. If you've ever seen the show "Intervention," it's a pretty simple premise. Get an addict, all the people in their life, gather them together, confront them with what they're doing, and they say, if you don't shape up, we're going to cut you off. So what they do is they take the connection to the addict,and they threaten it, they make it contingent on the addict behaving the way they want. And I began to think, I began to see why that approach doesn't work, and I began to think that's almost like the importing of the logic of the Drug War into our private lives.

 
14:28
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In this video, Gabe Deem, founder of rebootnation.com, shares his story and battle with porn.  Sharing this as my story and problems related to him.  He also found his solution to recovery outside of a 12 Step model ... which might helpful to others.

 

 

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This video is entitled, "Porn On The Brain".  It was very helpful for me as I began to understand the science behind what was happening in my brain in the over-stimulation.

 

 

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In this video, Dr. Jeffrey M Schwartz, author of 'You Are Not Your Brain', gives a lecture about what happens in the mind of addicts.  This video is pretty deep but if you are interested give it a few watches and it will start to make sense.  It has been fascinating to me to discover how damaged my brain became via over-stimulation and that many thoughts that ran through my mind were actually not my own.  In the end, I learned that I an not my brain and that through proper focus of my mind over the past year and working the 12 Steps of Alcoholic's Anonymous and I have begun to re-wire my brain in healthy ways and my brain is beginning to heal and become healthy.

 

 

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This video is entitled, "The Demise of Guys".  Philip Zambardo asks, "Why are boys struggling?"  He gives stats about how the internet, cell phones, gaming and porn use are isolating boys and disconnecting them from life and society.  Boys now are behind girls in most categories of development and in progressing upward in school and careers.

 

I have three boys, now 24, 22 and 19.  I've found this video, stats and his statements true for my family.

 

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I've noticed nobody has posted in this thread.  Perhaps nobody on HB has viewed porn.   lulz  :dunno

 

 

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StPaul basically shamed all of the addicts into not posting, lolz

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Is is possible to view porn from time to timesay, a couple times per monthwithout being a porn addict?   Asking for a friend.  

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1 hour ago, NUance said:

Is is possible to view porn from time to timesay, a couple times per monthwithout being a porn addict?   Asking for a friend.  

tenor.gif

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3 hours ago, MLB 51 said:

tenor.gif

 

Fry_is_Naked.jpg

 

Okay, okay.  I'll tell my friend to quit watching that stuff.  He's not gonna like it though. 

 

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On 7/23/2018 at 4:25 PM, NUance said:

Is is possible to view porn from time to timesay, a couple times per monthwithout being a porn addict?   Asking for a friend.  

 

Thought I'd chime in on this statement.  I have not been back to this topic since I posted it as I figured it might get mocked some after @StPaulHusker used his status to give (in my opinion) mock the topic.  No issues with him really ... I get it.  In the end, their are lots of views and understandings on the topic.

 

I recently was a part of a 6 person panel to share my experience, strength and hope with around 45 Master's level students preparing to go out into the community to be Certified Sex Addiction Therapists.  One of the questions asked was simply, "Is Looking at Porn Wrong"?  I thought I'd state my answer to that question below as if might give some hope to the person who feels trapped by his use of pornography.

 

Let me be the first to say, I really have no moral view on the topic anymore.  I am a former Pastor ... do consider myself a Pastor at present although not in an official position.  Additionally, you won't find any "Holier Than Thou" in my view (at least, I hope you don't), as when one like me has seen this issue invade and destroy my life for four (4) decades ... well, I have nothing to be proud of.  This thing has just kicked me butt since the age of around 12/13.  I'm 53 now.

 

When asked, "Is Looking at Porn Wrong?", my guess is that around half of the audience raised their hands (about what I expected ... especially for the younger generations).  That didn't surprise me at all.  So, in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, in the chapter entitled, "The Doctor's Opinion", the view is that for the alcoholic, when he seeks an effect (wants some ease and comfort for the pain he is experiencing in life) and takes that "first drink", he has what is viewed as an "allergic like" reaction.  Thus, when he takes that "first drink", for him, it leads to a physical craving and binging.  

 

So, let me set up an example.  Picture in your mind three plates before you.  The plate on the far right has 1000 peanut M & M's.  The plate in the middle has 100 peanut M & M's.  The plate on the far left has one (1) peanut M & M.  So, let's say @StPaulHusker eats the 1000 peanut M & M's on the far right.  He downs those bad boys.  He has no issue at all.  The guy is fine.  It doesn't even affect any bowel movement.  :-)  He has no allergic reaction at all.  Now, @NUance comes to the middle plate and downs his 100 peanut M & M's.  Again, no issue at all.  The guy could actually eat more if he wanted but he feels full, satisfied and carries on in his day.  Now we come to the plate on the far left with just one (1) peanut M & M.  BigRedN (me) steps in to eat just that one peanut M & M and WOW, I have a reaction that totally baffles not only @StPaulHusker and @Nuance ... but especially myself.  My throat begins to swell up ... I begin to have a tough time just getting a breath.  Folks call 911 and before the ambulance even gets there I fall over and die.  The stark reality is that I have a totally different reaction due to my allergy.  

 

Essentially, for me, when I take a "first drink" and/or a "first look" at pornography (I like to call it "selfish sex"), what it stirs in me seems to be totally different than the average temperate person.  So, to those who would make "looking at pornography" as a debate, or in what appeared to be a mocking view of @StPaulHusker, what probably he and others may not understand is that it appears that there can be a small proportion of society that react differently to the same "drug of choice".  The "allergy" concept seems to make sense.  At least, it does to me.  I never really believed this myself ... that's why I always spoke down to the alcoholic, the druggie, the overweight guy ... and especially ... the sex addict.  I held the view on page 20 of the AA book:  

 

               How many times people have said to us: "I can take it or leave it alone. Why can't he?" "Why don't you drink like a gentleman or quit?"

              "That fellow can't handle his liquor." "Why don't you try beer and wine?" "Lay off the hard stuff." "His will power must be weak." "He

              could stop if he wanted to." "She's such a sweet girl, I should think he'd stop for her sake." "The doctor told him that if he ever drank

              again it would kill him, but there he is all lit up again."  Now these are commonplace observations on drinkers which we hear all

              the time. Back of them is a world of ignorance and misunderstanding. 

 

So, as I look back over my 40 years in struggling with porn, for me, I did always view it as morally wrong.  I learned this from my folks and probably from my minimal time at church.  Regardless, for most of my life, whenever I would take a "first drink" ... it just never seemed enough.  One "first drink" was too many and a thousand was not enough.  I always felt weird about this.  I seemed to have a different reaction to it than everyone else.  Still, I liked the effect and would try to "control and enjoy" it as often as I could.  For me, it would always lead to countless sprees and with it would come more and more guilt and shame.  I felt baffled a lot over the issue.  I would try to answer the riddle with more self-will and self-knowledge ... but in the end ... whenever I took the "first drink" ... I would be the guy who just seemed to not be able to handle his "liquor".  All of this reminds me of page 30 of the AA book:

 

                  Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different

                 from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts

                 to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the

                 great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of

                 insanity or death.

 

                We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery.

                The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.

 

                We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever 

                recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals - usually brief - were inevitably

                followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a

                man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.

 

When I lost my parents in back to back years just before and after Christmas ... something broke in my foundation.  I was in so much pain.  My world was shattered.  Amidst all that ... I could sense I was losing my wife and my marriage of 25 years.  Amidst all that pain, I needed some "ease and comfort" and my drug of choice was pornography.  In my early years, I was probably a "lite drinker".  10 years later I was perhaps a "moderate drinker" while slipping further into a "heavy drinker".  But when I lost my folks, the day came where I could not set the "drink" down ... it became a "necessary" to simply deal with my pain.  Amidst all that I genuinely became a porn addict.  

 

Hey, again, I'm not proud of this fact.  It's just what happened to me.  As I got into recovery I began to see that I really did not have a porn addiction.   It was only a symptom.  The real problem was that I was selfish and self-centered ... that was at the root of my troubles.  As I began to work through the 12 Steps of AA with a Sponsor I began to deal with my real root problems.  I do believe I've had a spiritual awakening as the result of these 12 Steps.  In this awakening the obsession spoken of in the chart above was removed and the "infinite cycle" of that chart was broken.  Now, my Higher Power steps in and meets my needs of "ease and comfort".  Power was my real dilemma.  Through working through these Steps I've discovered the Great Reality deep within me and now have found access to His Power via living on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God.  I now trust an Infinite God rather than my finite self.  I am in the world to play the role He assigns now.

 

Anyway, again, what has been shared was done so to be helpful to perhaps that small fraction of folks here on Huskerboard who might think they have a problem and don't know where to turn to.  I only wish to be helpful ... I throw no stones at anyone for their use of porn or even their view on this topic.  I've ceased fighting anyone and anything ... even porn.  I have to ... or it kills me.  If you need an "understanding ear" ... message me.  I can help you out of that cage to a happy, joyous and free life.  There are plenty of phone meetings and perhaps even a local meeting where you can find help.  I can help you over the phone and sponsor you if you want to try this.  I tried many "methods" over my 40 years ... including a lot of religious ones.  I was a sex addict of the 100% hopeless variety.  In working the Steps, God has now recovered me from a hopeless state of mind and body.  I am whole again.

 

Pass

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Some resources I wanted to post that would allow a person who wanted to try to qualify themselves on their own and/or learn more about whether or not they have an addiction:

 

https://foundationtalks.wixsite.com/recordings

The site above has various "foundation meeting" talks.  I'd encourage you to listen to Brian from San Francisco.  He has talks on March 17 and May 26th.  Both good.  

 

http://www.saapp.org/meeting/

Another option is to call into a phone meeting for Sex Addicts Anonymous.  There are daily meetings where you can call a number and listen in to a live meeting.  Of particular note, on Saturday morning at 9:00 AM EST, there is a live "Foundation Meeting" discussed above.  After this meeting and any meeting you can ask questions and also get help in finding a Sponsor.

 

Finally, if you want to contact me in the message area, I can give you my personal number or some of the other SAA meetings that I attend that have not been listed.  I don't want to expose those numbers in case others care to harm or mock those who are calling into these meetings trying to find help.

 

If you are in the Dallas area, like me, I can get you in touch with quite a few local meetings covering the entire region.  There is hope.

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