Working the Steps for Love Addicts

For love addicts, finding balance in life can be a struggle. Understanding and respecting one’s own boundaries requires that one has a knowledge of themselves and their limits, and also, an honesty regarding the unmanageability that love addiction and toxic relationships can cause.

Entering a 12-step program such as SLAA (Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous) can be a very important part of the recovery work from love addiction. Modeled after the 12 steps of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), the 12 steps for recovery from love addiction look similar, with just a few differences that address the addiction specifically.

Working the steps has many benefits; among them, developing new ways of relating to others and new choices of how to be in the world. Prior to working a 12-step program, we may have found ourselves attracted only to other love addicts or other love avoidants. When we work the steps, we learn to love ourselves, and in turn, select more functional partners for relationships.

Sometimes initially in SLAA, we may be asked to refrain from being involved in a romantic relationship. This is to help us do important work on ourselves without the distraction that a relationship can bring with it. Working a solid program in SLAA can help us to become aware of the ways that we as love addicts create chaos and intensity, often mistaking these qualities for genuine intimacy. Having the time and space to begin learning how to be truly intimate can start with learning how to be authentically intimate with ourselves.

Working on unrealistic expectations about others can also be an important part of our recovery from love addiction. While working the steps, we might find ourselves reviewing our pasts; that is, examining our family of origin and making the discovery that we did not get some crucial emotional needs met in childhood. That can translate to bringing those unresolved feelings into our adult relationships, and re-enacting painful childhood experiences, in the hopes of creating a different outcome from the one we experienced in our past.

One very important part of this work is coming to the realization that other adults cannot fulfill unresolved childhood needs, and cannot be expected to love us unconditionally like a parent would. This is a need that we can only fulfill for ourselves. While it can be a painful realization to acknowledge that others can’t heal our past emotional wounds, new growth can be achieved through confronting our codependency and learning how to function interdependently, rather than relying on others for what we can only supply to ourselves. In recovery, we come to have realistic expectations about others, and we own our parts in relational interactions.

People who struggle with intimacy issues can benefit greatly from getting support. A solid relationship with a skilled therapist trained in love & sex addiction can help guide the individual through this process. At Center For Healthy Sex (, we offer individual, group and intensive therapy programs to effectively address sex addiction, love addiction and intimacy issues.

Educational Scholarships for Men & Women in Recovery From Sex Addiction

On August 15th, ten Hope & Freedom Educational Scholarships will be award.  Each year ten $500 scholarships are available for men and women who are in recovery from sexual addiction.

The purpose of the scholarships is to encourage men and women in recovery from sex addiction to enter college or to continue their education.

Scholarships may be used to pursue education for any undergraduate or graduate degree program at any accredited college or university (including seminary, medical school, or other institution of higher learning).

Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity!

If you or someone you know is struggling with sex addiction in Los Angeles, contact us — we’re here to help.

More specific information can be found on

Is Sex Addict the New Slut?

Sex addiction has become a commonly used phrase in popular culture. Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, and countless other men of means and power have put faces and identities to problematic and destructive sexual behaviors. For eons, people have labeled heavy drinkers as “alcoholics,” those who can’t leave the office until 10:00pm as “workaholics,” and now the term “sex addict” seems to have reached that level of fancy name-calling aimed at those who exhibit promiscuous behaviors. But is sex addiction merely a high level of promiscuity? Sex addiction and high levels of sexual activity are not one in the same, and blurring of the two within pop culture is misleading and dangerous. The problem associated with labeling sex addicts as the “new sluts” is clear to me, especially given that sex addiction actually has little to do with the act of sex, and much more to do with the underlying negative core beliefs that lead the addict down this self-destructive path in the first place.

Many argue that mental health clinicians are trying to create a disease out of an innate biological function that is fundamentally unlike ingesting a chemical into the body. It is likely the debate around the origins of sexual compulsivity will continue on, but all seem to agree that effects of it can prove devastating. Ruined relationships, lost jobs, sexually transmitted diseases, and isolation are just a few of the byproducts of a sexually compulsive way of life. So then, what is the difference between promiscuous behavior and sex addiction? Patrick Carnes, a leader in the field of sex addiction, addresses this in his book Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction, Generally, addicts do not perceive themselves as worthwhile persons. Nor do they believe that other people would care for them or meet their needs if everything was known about them, including the addiction. Finally, they believe that sex is their most important need. Sex is what makes isolation bearable. If you do not trust people, one thing that is true about sex (and alcohol, food, gambling, and risk) is that it always does what it promises, for the moment.” When viewed through the Carnes lense, and given the intense pain endured by the addict, it is clear that sex addiction and promiscuity are very different matters. Having multiple sexual partners and avoiding “settling down” does not necessarily mean one is engaging in compulsive, or addictive, behaviors. For example, many who engage in polyamory believe their connections are based on trust, and experienced as intimate and fulfilling. There are no hints of worthlessness or isolation, the cornerstones of Carnes’s description of the sexually addicted and compulsive. The relationship a sex addict has with the compulsive behavior is akin to the relationship alcoholics and drug addicts develop with their drugs of choice. It becomes a maladaptive means to cope with the shame and anxiety that always accompany the worthlessness and isolation. The rush of dopamine and adrenaline provide a temporary reprieve from this pain, just like alcohol and drugs. So, if we all agree the “fix” provided by various chemicals can be addictive, destructive, and thus potentially life threatening, why would this “fix” be any different? I believe this type of addiction can ultimately be far more difficult to conquer. It’s very important that sex addiction is viewed as a serious problem that warrants treatment and deep healing, not just brushed aside as the rich and powerful behaving badly.

Sex, Lies, and Congressman Weiner

Another sex scandal? They’re coming so fast now I can hardly keep up with them.  Are men in power acting “like pigs” as the May 30 Time Magazine accuses them of.  Take a look at this article in Time Magazine last week:,16641,20110530,00.html

On the matter of Weiner, this guy has all the signs and symptoms of sexually addictive behaviors.  You might think his arrogance is shocking then be fooled by his willingness to apologize over and over again.  Don’t let the apology fool you.  He will act out again if he doesn’t get help because he can’t stop himself.

Let’s see what happens…

DSM-V to consider Hypersexual Disorder

Here is the latest on whether or not Hypersexual Disorder (formerly sex addiction) will be considered as a bona fide category in the manual for mental illness.  Take a look at the LA Times article and let us know what you think:,0,4198997.story

Heavy Internet porn use is not fun

Men, women, and teens are getting caught in the web of on-line pornography and, sometimes, can’t get out.  With the advent of more free porn than ever before and high levels of accessibility, porn addiction is on the rise.

A study in the UK of 1,057 adults aged 18-24 shows that looking at more than 10 hours a week of porn can have detrimental effects on desire for sex with a partner. Porn is rapidly becoming a substitute for actual sex because, for one thing,  it takes less work than intimate engagement with a partner.  Attaching to pornography can negatively impact the users ability to get aroused with a real person, and it can sometimes take months before a natural sexual arousal will return.

The article states:

Men who look at porn for 10 hours a week are much more likely to worry it is influencing their behaviour, the survey suggested.

Higher numbers of those heavy users said their porn viewing had upset a partner or caused them to miss a meeting at work.

Men looking at porn for at least 10 hours a week were also more likely to say it can put them off real-life sex.

To read the article go to:

Scientists discover new stress neuropathway

Everyone experiences some kind of stress in their lives but traumatic stress impacts some people more than others. It seems that some people are more susceptible to the impact of stress on the brain, creating anxiety or depressive disorders.  Sex addicts, and sometimes their partners, can suffer from both anxiety or depression or both due to childhood trauma.

Here is an excerpt from the study:

“The study found that the emotional centre of the brain – the amygdala – reacts to stress by increasing production of a protein called neuropsin. This triggers a series of chemical events which in turn cause the amygdala to increase its activity. As a consequence, a gene is turned on that determines the stress response at a cellular level.”

To read the article, go to:

Do you have obligatory sex?

If you do, you may consider that as a mature adult, you’re not doing yourself or your partner any favors.  The question of why so many people feel obligated to have sex on nationally designated holidays is addressed in this smart, well thought out article by Jennifer Rhodes.

Excessive internet porn usage leads to erectile dysfunction

How can excessive Internet porn usage lead to ED?

The brain gets fatigued from viewing the intense and highly graphic pornographic images that are available on-line, making real people less arousing.  When a real, attractive person comes into contact with an excessive Internet porn user, the brain of the porn user doesn’t recognize the person as novel enough to produce dopamine so the body doesn’t get a signal for arousal. In other words, the real person doesn’t activate the dopamine system in the brain so no excitement registers.

The trap is that porn can eventually become an addiction, rendering the user sexually impotent when they try to have real sex with another person.  Take a look at this dramatic and clear article at

Let us know what you think!

Orgasm, Inc. – the movie

Orgasm, Inc. looks at “the strange science of female pleasure and in the process reveals the warped mentality of our pharmaceutical and medical industries. Director Liz Canner embarks on a nine year odyssey as she follows the companies who are racing to be the first to win FDA approval for a a product to cure ‘female sexual dysfunction.’ The prize: billions of dollars in profits.”

This movie has been called, “upbeat, engaging, enlightening, and provocative.”

Visit for trailer and more information.

Let us know what you think about the movie by clicking the comment button below.