Addiction to Internet pornography is just one part of a large spectrum of life-damaging behaviors that can prevent a person from functioning well in a society or in a family, said Dr. Vicki Wyatt. The licensed professional counselor gave a seminar on sex addiction on campus April 16.
Wyatt encouraged the small group who attended to work on the addictions, sex and otherwise.
“Addiction is not just that you’re not doing something right,” she said. “You didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it, and you can’t control it.”
Wyatt explained how to recognize addiction.
“Addiction is characterized by the inability to consistently abstain” from something which creates “significant problems with one’s behaviors.”
Rather than accepting an addiction as a sign of bad character that can’t be fixed, Wyatt said, the person suffering from sex addiction, or any other compulsive behavior, should seek professional help in overcoming it.
Wyatt said her program, Intensive Recovery, focuses on working through the betrayal that sex addiction brings so a couple can heal.
Without treatment, sex addicts will find it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with a partner. She said although sex addiction is often about Internet pornography, it does not have to be.
A sex addiction can develop using secret affairs, often cultivated through social networks, in the workplace, and many other ways.
“You’ve got a secret life and a public image. Part of the recovery is how to integrate those,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt made it clear that intimacy is not about sex. Intimacy presents vulnerability, and it is based on genuine trust.
Wyatt said that intimacy should be used only for good. A relationship with a sex addict houses betrayal, which creates a rift in a relationship.
Wyatt also took questions from the audience.
A man asked her about a specific addiction, fighting, and she said that these were similar, because a stimulus still needs to be met in both instances. She suggested replacing the adrenaline by doing another activity.
“Boundaries are an important part of any relationship, specifically a sexual one,” Wyatt said.
A woman asked about setting boundaries on television and the Internet for adolescents.
Wyatt suggested that family units be transparent with each other.
She said she believes in setting parental controls, but more than that, having an open line of communication, especially when it comes to sexual behavior.
“Sex addiction is not about an attraction,” she said. “It’s about compulsive behavior.”
For more information, visit Wyatt’s Intensive Recovery website, www.intensiverecovery.com.
Also, you can take the Internet Sex Screening Test for free at www.sexhelp.com.