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Wednesday, July 13, 2016
How Values Heal Addiction
Contrary to claims of traditional treatment centers, simply admitting addiction and abstaining do little in themselves. It’s crucial that you know your values, what’s really important to you, for significant life change to happen.
A 50-year-old married patient, Orlando, for example, was a sex addict over half of his life. He habitually escaped to watching pornography and spending millions paying for sex with different women. When his wife has had enough and threatened to divorce him, he entered therapy and rehabilitation.
During sessions, he boasted of his abstinence for several months and no longer considering himself “sick.” Yet it evidenced that simply quitting his “sex addiction drug” without addressing his values don’t address the root or basis of his addiction.
Orlando, who used pornography and extra marital sexual affairs as outlet for his macho image, found other ways to manifest or express his addicted pattern even during abstinence. In session, he uttered words quite reminiscent of his sex addiction state — for example, revealing things like “I watch porn to deal with my stress,” “Since my wife is not changing, I think of having a girlfriend,” flirting with women in the mall, and constant masturbating.
Personal values, such as health, faithfulness, truth, self esteem, integrity, spirituality etc, are a kind of unrealized strength in therapy. To the extent that a patient possesses them, he or she is less likely to become addicted in the first place. And if there are any heavy emotional struggles, one with firm values are able to better surmount challenges life presents.