My Drug: Pornography & Sex or Lust?

My life was being ruined by my uncontrollable use of pornography. I was viewing porn and masturbating in places and at times that, if caught, would mean the end of my employment and my marriage. I couldn’t stop. I had struggled to do so for the majority of my life.  My behavior with pornography and masturbation, or sex with self, was definitely making my life unmanageable. If only I could stop the behavior! Finally, despair over my sexual behavior brought me to Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). I thank God for that.

Sex Is Not the Problem

Imagine my surprise then when I discovered that sexual behavior (for me solo-sex combined with porn) was not really my problem. Yes, were I to be caught with my “drug” in hand (pardon the pun), it would have destroyed my career and marriage, but SA stresses that lust, and not my behavior, is at the core of my problem. Unlike other S- fellowships, our first step does not have any mention of behaviors:

Step 1: We admitted that we were powerless over lust

The White Book (our textbook) does mention sexual behaviors, but over and over it stresses the primary place of lust in our disease:

  • “This book is for those who want to stop their sexually self-destructive thinking and behavior.” (first line of the Preface)

  • “We also see that lust is the driving force behind our sexual acting out, and true sobriety includes progressive victory over lust.” (p. 4)

  • “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober.” (p. 4)
  • Lust— The Force Behind the Addiction” (chapter title on page 39)
  • “Overcoming Lust and Temptation” (chapter title on page 157)
  • Lust has become an addiction. Our situation is like that of the alcoholic who can no longer tolerate alcohol and must stop drinking altogether but is hooked and cannot stop. So it is with the sexaholic, or sex drunk, who can no longer tolerate lust but cannot stop.” (pp. 3-4)

What Is The Sexaholic’s “Drug”?

That last quote is particularly interesting to me. In our literature, sexaholics are over and over compared to alcoholics. Indeed, AA’s Big Book and Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions are for us primary sources. So if sexaholics are addicts in the tradition of alcoholics, what is our drug of choice.  The Big Book says this: “are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks” (p. xxvii). Taking a few drinks. For the alcoholic, the problem is, the drug that they must get out of their system and keep out is alcohol. What is the drug that is driving the sexaholic to destruction?  Is it sex in some form?

As I said earlier, my behavior revolved around sex with self accompanied by pornography, but when I was younger, it involved female school mates. As a married man, it involved sex with my wife. Sex with her was part of the problem. For others in our program, their compulsive behavior takes the form of visits to prostitutes, extra-marital affairs, homosexual affairs, and sleeping around. Sex, sex, and more sex. We couldn’t stop having sex with the wrong people at the wrong time.  So is sex the drug that we must at all costs avoid?

Once an Sexaholic, Always a Sexaholic

Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. To become healthy and sane, the alcoholic must cease ALL consumption of alcohol. FOREVER. The disease is ever present, biding its time, waiting for the first sip. The first drink. And then we’re off to the races again. The life-long dream of being able to “drink like other men” is a pipe dream. Not going to happen.

Once a sexaholic, always a sexaholic. To become healthy and sane, the sexaholic must, what? Cease ALL sexual activity? FOREVER? No! This is not what our program is about. There may be some of our members who choose to live a celibate, joy-filled life, but that is not a requirement, and is certainly not held up as “the ideal”. There are many men and women in our program who could not stop having sex with the wrong people, or who abused their spouses with hurtful kinds or amounts of sex. In recovery, having sanity restored, they are now able to engage in healthy, mutually joy-filled marital sex.  The White Book says that “for the sexaholic, any form of sex with one’s self or with partners other than the spouse is progressively addictive and destructive” (p. 4) As noted earlier, in active addiction, even sex with the spouse is often twisted. But once a healthy amount of sobriety has been achieved (and is being maintained!), sex with the spouse becomes a blessing and is no longer a means of destruction.

So what happened to this sexaholic? Is he or she no longer diseased? Is he or she cured? Was it that the drug of sex was once poison to their system, but is so no longer? Unlike alcohol for the alcoholic, sex can lose its sting for the sexaholic?

Might As Well Face It, You’re Addicted to LUST

No. The reason the married sexaholic can return to sex with the spouse is because the primary drug was not sex, but the lust that fueled the behavior. You might say that sex was the bottle filled with the toxic lust drink. Once the bottle is filled with genuine, self-giving, self-sacrificing, other-serving love, it is no longer to be feared. The act is no longer progressively DEstructive, it has become progressively CONstructive.

As SA stresses over and over in the White Book, and in our member’s experience, lust is the core, and because it is the core, there are a couple ramifications:

  1. As discussed in this article, because lust is the core of our addiction, once it is excised, marital sex can become a beautiful, life-giving act.
  2. Because lust is the core of our addiction, the sexaholic must have a zero-tolerance policy toward lust. As one of our traditional checkins phrases it, I need to “do whatever is necessary to protect my [desire for sobriety] including… refusing all lust hits as toxic“. Me having no-sex boundaries while making an exception for lust, is like an alcoholic that has a n0-all-night-binge boundary, but makes an exception for just a little sip. The alcoholic will rue that exception. The sexaholic will rue his lust exception as well. Maybe not today, but soon. The toxin has been introduced to the system, and the allergic, destructive reaction won’t be far behind.

What Then?

pornograph sex or lust?We are fighting a losing battle if we encircle our city with impregnable walls to stave off the hoards of destructive sexual behaviors while escorting their captains through the front gates disguised as the exciting gift of lust. We must be on the lookout for lust in all its forms, and avoid it like a medieval plague.

Join us! We’ll show you how.

– Anonymous

 

 

 

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