Am I an Addict for the Rest of My Life?

Recently I was talking with a friend in recovery that goes to SAL meetings and another group support meeting. He mentioned that someone in his other group told the entire group that they really shouldn’t label themselves as addicts and that it’s hurtful to their recovery.

My friend and I had this conversation a few days ago but these questions have been stuck in my head ever since:

“Is it a bad thing to admit to my fellows that I’m an addict?”

or

“Is labeling myself an addict indefinitely damaging to me and possibly others?”

or

will i always be an addict

Ironically, the day after our conversation I decided to formally start working on Step 1 again – by “formally” I mean doing reading from the different recovery materials, writing about how the reading applies to where I am today, and thinking about what I can do to work Step 1 in my day to day interactions.

Before I share what I found in my Step 1 study, I can honestly say that I had no agenda, I wasn’t looking for any evidence or proof that what this person had said about labeling or admitting addiction was wrong. I just started reading.

This was one of the first statements I found in the White Book, a book written by addicts for addicts:

“Living inside our illness, we were blind to [the addiction]. In recovery, the addiction begins to lose its hold over us, but it is necessary that we never forget what we really are.” (p. 29, bold added)

Talk about smacking me in the face with a big “DON’T EVER FORGET WHERE YOU’VE BEEN AND WHO YOU REALLY ARE!”

The comment about not calling myself an addict truly sparked some negative feelings in me. I didn’t want it to, but it did.

Is my reading in the White Book fueling that fire of negative emotion, or is it just reminding me what the truth really is about addiction recovery?

Ultimately, I feel it’s inspired this blog post to discuss the big question:

Should I call myself an addict for the rest of my life?

Is it a bad thing to admit I’m an addict? Is it terrible to “label myself” this way? Or does trying to sweep it under the rug, say I’m a “child of God” with some problems, just worsen the problem and push me ever inward?

One of the things that sticks out to me in the reading of Step 1 in the White Book is how an addict is defined:

“…tolerance, abstinence, and withdrawal. If someone has experienced these three phenomena in some area of his or her life, that person is generally regarded as being addicted. When we apply the test to ourselves, we identify as being addicted to lust, sex, relationships, or various combinations of these – for starters.” (p. 30)

These three components – tolerance, abstinence, and withdrawal – commonly identify addiction and shouldn’t be overlooked or brushed aside if one is really serious about recovery and healing.

What are signs of tolerance?

“Tolerance refers to the tendency to tolerate more of the drug or activity and get less from its use, hence the need for increasing dosage to maintain or recapture the desired effect.” (The White Book, p. 30)

With sexual addiction, this refers to the need for increased obsessive thinking, interaction, or activity with less and less effect. This means I resort to the drug more and more with less and less satisfaction.

In my research in the White Book, these are some self-imposed questions that helped me see how I’ve been attempting to tolerate more of my drug over the course of my life:

– How has my lust and/or sexual activity escalated over the years?
– How many lines have I crossed that I said I never would?
– What started as just thoughts or fantasies and turned into real actions?
– How did my addiction get worse with the introduction of the internet?
– How did my relationships with others, especially in regard to the physical side of relationships, worsen over time? Was I was really just in the relationship for the “hit” or the “chase,” not for real connection?
– How did I need more and more of my “drug?”

If I answer these questions honestly, tolerance has been at the core of my life since as early as 4 or 5 years old.

Maybe I wasn’t an addict yet, but I was planting the seeds, mixing the ingredients, or baiting the hook as a little boy without even knowing it.

The scariest thing for me, as a father to young boys, is how easily young people can now get access to pornography with the click of a button. And this pornography is not the Swimsuit Issue or JC Penny magazine kind of stuff that was the start of my addiction…

Who’s to say that a young person can’t be roped into the addictive cycle at a much earlier age than some may think?

To me, this escalates the tolerance tendency that much more rapidly.

How is abstinence a sign of addiction?

“Abstinence refers to the phenomenon where the typical addict tries to quit using the addictive agent or activity. Perhaps we should call it attempted abstinence. We swear off – again and again. Something inside tells us we should stop.” (The White Book, pp. 30-31)

Sound familiar? How many of us have stopped a thousand times or told ourselves, “Ok, that was the last time. I’m turning over a new leaf. I’m done for real…”?

These questions help me better see how I’ve practiced the abstinence tendency as an “addict-in-progress”:

– How many times did I say I had to stop?
– How many times did I actually try stopping?
– How many times did I go to an ecclesiastical leader and swear that this was the last time?
– How many times did I ever tell that leader the full history of my acting out?
– How many different leaders did I tell different things to?
– How many times did I cross a line with what I was looking at and say, “Dang, I’ll never go that far again…” only to go right back to that depth, maybe even the next day?
– How often did I “stop” every time I acted out?”

Any interaction with pornography is potentially addictive and destructive. Even an accidental encounter with it as a child.

To try to put a rating on how addicted one is or say that some exposure to pornography may not be addictive at all is absurd based on my experiences.

Would I let my little boys go to a wine testing exhibit or sample different shots of vodka as long as they didn’t drink a full glass of the stuff? I mean, one little drink probably won’t get them addicted, right?

How have I practiced withdrawal as an addict?

Withdrawal is applied to the symptoms the addict may experience when deprived of the drug or activity…This gives rise to the deception and demand that we’ve got to have sex. But this is no different from the drug addict feeling he’ll die without his fix. It is simply not true; not feeding the hunger doesn’t kill us.” (The White Book, p. 31)

As an addict, once I’ve stopped the feeding of the addiction, it’s going to feel off for a time. It might even be painful.

Without my drug of choice – pornography and lust – I finally begin to feel what’s really going on inside. This adjustment, these new and uncomfortable feelings, takes time to work through, and the support of other addicts in the fellowship is vital to real recovery and healing.

Working with someone that has been there before and that can relate to the feelings of withdrawal I’m going through can help take the fear out of the process.

A few questions that can help me assess where I’m at in the withdrawal phase of addiction:

– Am I experiencing higher of highs and lower of lows now that I’m sober?
– How am I doing at reaching out to other fellows in recovery when these feelings come?
– What are the new ways I’m coping with the feelings I’m having through the withdrawal process?
– Are these new ways of coping healthy, or are they switching from one addiction to another?

Conclusion

I’m an addict.

Although I don’t know that I’ll ever print this on a t-shirt and wear it around town or get up at my church meeting and announce it at the pulpit, being an addict is part of who I am.

I’m also a father.

I’m a husband.

I’m a son.

I’m a softball player.

I’m a mountain biker.

I’m a New York Yankees fan.

I’m a sinner (the Yankees fan and sinner don’t necessarily go together 🙂 ).

I’m a sponsor.

I’m a sponsee.

I’m a work in progress.

All of these labels DO define me – they make me ME.

If I want to hide any of them, if I am ashamed to admit these things, what am I really doing?

For me, I’m “lying to myself and believing it” and this is not a healthy pattern at all.

I know too well where that will lead me and it’s not a good place.

Not taking accountability for who I am is not working a real Step 1 at all. And how can I truthfully do any of the other Steps and expect to see any lasting results in recovery if I brush over what I feel is the most important Step of all of them- Step 1?

I can’t.

I look forward to your feedback on the topic.

32 thoughts on “Am I an Addict for the Rest of My Life?”

  1. I try not to get caught up in semantics…at first saying “addict” really bothered me. But I’ve grown to understand what it means – I don’t mind it anymore. I think of this as, “I am imperfect and will need help for the rest of my life”. If I get hung up on the word “addict” then I lose sight of that…

    1. Amen Manuel. It really is all about semantics. I agree with that and have to let that go. The hard thing for me, the thing that triggers the fear in me which then leads to anger and then to resentment is this – well intentioned, and often non-addict people, who share things like this with men who are at a meeting trying to find help. Hearing stuff like this has been, for me, an invitation to justify my behavior and carry on as if “all is well” simply because I have no idea what I’m dealing with. I’m an ADDICT and can only see through very shaded glasses.

      I, unfortunately, put my family through hell because of this thought process. I “arrived,” I “overcame,” and I stopped going to those meetings because I had “better things to do with my time.” And what happened? I was as the dog who went back to his vomit.

      I really like your statement: “I am imperfect and will need help for the rest of my life.” In other words, “I admitted that I am powerless over lust – that my life is unmanageable.”

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. First off, go Red Sox…

    Just kidding, but I really appreciated this post. I think I may have been in the meeting described above. I know that the people who argued both sides of the argument are well intentioned, but I also am an addict, and I don’t think that is bad. Being an addict just means I will always have extra sensitivity to lust, and need to be extra careful, not that I will be acting out all of my life.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    1. LOL – those Red Sox are in 1st place so I can’t really talk too much trash right now.

      I wasn’t at that meeting so I’m not sure what was discussed. I do agree that both sides are well intentioned.

      As an addict myself, I think it’d be more helpful if well intentioned non-addicts said less about recovery and direct those they interact with towards other recovering addicts who can help them see more clearly in regard to what they’re dealing with.

      Ultimately, I need to surrender the outcome and let this all go.

      Thanks again Clark.

  3. Dr. Victor Cline, a respected sexual addiction therapist said “…in my experience as a sexual addiction therapist, any individual who regularly masturbates (sex with self) while using pornography is at risk of becoming, in time, a sexual addict, as well as conditioning himself (or herself) into developing a sexual deviancy and/or disturbing a bonded relationship with a spouse or girlfriend (or boyfriend).”

    My first experience with porn was at age 6. Innocent exposure, but I recall the experience vividly. Was I then addicted…no, but my life changed forever. No longer was I innocent in my exposure to porn. I made the choice to go back to it again and again because the experience was euphoric.

    At age 10 or so I discovered sex with self…the porn and sex with self seemed rewarding but was always done in secret. I don’t think I could ever pinpoint when I crossed the threshold of addiction, but I feel it was around age 14. By then I was actively involved in the behavior. I did not ever choose to try stopping on my own and no one ever talked to me about the behavior being so dangerous and “addictive” so I kept on with it.

    My story is long but not unique.

    In time I was “acting out” with girls not recognizing that my choices would lead me down pathways that would jeopardize all future meaningful relationships. When I finally tried to stop the behavior because of the negative consequences, I could not stop; I was willing to risk everything that was meaningful in my life. First, my relationship with God. Second, my relationship with my spouse. Third, my family. And so, out of fear of loss, I hid my behaviors which became even more dangerous and destructive. Adult establishments, more porn and sex with self, then prostitutes.

    When I finally came forward and got honest with my wife and others, I refused to identify with being addicted…”A sex addict? (shame, shame) How demeaning and pitiful,” I thought. Because I was not “an addict,” I could do this on my own, or so I told myself. I had some therapy but 12 step meetings, no way, they were for weird people.

    I relapsed 3 years later, and I have learned by sad experience: until I was able to acknowledge that I was dealing with an addiction that would destroy me, I would not seek the help that was needed nor do the very hard work of recovery.

    Recovery is HARD work and for me it is a lifelong pursuit. The only way I have been able to stay in recovery and live a joyful life is admit that lust is still toxic for me. When I choose to entertain it in any way, my addict will say to me, “You’re ok. You’re past the addiction. You’re sober almost 12 years, a little lust won’t hurt, drink in a little, how can it hurt?…your’re in recovery.”

    As soon as I am willing to take that approach, I will eventually return to the behavior, even after 11 years of honest sobriety.

    The only way I can stay safe and stay connected with God is to live my life one day at a time, working recovery because I am still an addict…the compulsion has subsided but I am still an addict. I know I am person of worth and God is still for me… an addict working recovery one day at time.

    In recovery I can honestly say I would not turn back the pages nor wish things had were different. I am a man, a son of God, a son of goodly parents, a man of testimony, and man of faith, a husband of an incredible woman, a father whose children know all and still love and respect me, a musician, a leader, a developer, a man who enjoys sports, a dreamer of what can I do next that will be meaningful in this life and the next. I’m a grateful man. I’m willing to help other addicts down this tough path.

    And yes, I am still a sexual addict and will be until I’m safely dead.

    Steven C.

    1. Thanks Steven! I’m so glad to know you and to have met you over three years ago at the UCAP conference. I feel that your story and example have helped me get on the road of real recovery; I will eternally be grateful for that.

  4. When I first started going to meetings I wondered why people introduced themselves as sex and lust addicts. I was just there to get help for my pornography problem. I wondered if that label was real or something made up by a therapist and just spread around the group. There was no way I was a sex or lust addict. But I started to notice something, these guys had much more sobriety and recovery than other members of the group. Maybe there was something to what they were saying. So I started talking with them after the meeting, made some friends, and was introduced to SAL. I started working with a sponsor and reading the White Book. Then I realized something, I really was an addict. The stories and experiences I was reading and hearing were my stories and experiences. When I was finally able to admit that I was a sex and lust addict my recovery really started.

    Each time I say “I am a sex addict”, the addiction loses its power over my life. It is the wonderful paradox of surrender. As soon as I forget that about myself, I run a huge risk of falling back into my addiction and giving back that power. I know from painful experiences that I don’t want that to ever happen. So I continue to introduce myself as an addict. I continue to do things only a recovering addict does. It is part of who I am. Like the author said, I have many roles and the combination of them all defines who I am. Do I go around telling everyone I meet I’m an addict? No, but I’m not afraid to admit it. Does it make me part of a group? Absolutely, and it is a wonderful fellowship I’m more grateful for each day

    1. Thanks David. I remember hearing that same introduction once in a meeting. I was like, “Dang, that guy must really have been in a bad place or something…”

      But then I listened to him talk and I could tell something was different, he was talking a different recovery language than I was accustomed to. Naturally, he ended his share with “I’ll take another 24.”

      I appreciate your perspective and friendship.

  5. I think if we back up for a second, the discussion topic really could turn more towards a conversation about, “how do I measure how well I am doing at surrendering other people’s words, thoughts, and actions?”

    Once we are able to heal and move past the labels and titles, we enter a deeper movement towards healing the wounds and unhealthy emotional patterns that are driving us towards the addictive behaviors. This process takes us inward where we focus on self, our own behaviors, and moves us toward true acceptance of self and others and is the path of true surrender.

    As long as we continue discussing labels, sobriety vs recovery, etc, we continue to remain at the “addict” or surface level and are missing out on the deeper healing that can bring long-term recovery of self.

    1. Thanks for you perspective Jimmy. I recognize that “my life is unmanageable” and I need to truly surrender how some things can trigger negative emotions in me.

      I feel it’s important for me to talk about recovery based on where I am today and based on my own experience, in hopes that, maybe in a small or insignificant way to some, I will be able to help a newcomer see or hear or read things in a different way than he’s used to seeing, hearing or reading them in other circumstances.

      My experience was this way and I’m grateful for the fellows I’ve been able to connect with that opened and continue to open my addict eyes to an entirely new way of working recovery one day at a time.

      Thanks for your comment.

  6. I personally define addiction as being related to use and compulsion. Therefore, I believe that if I say to myself and others that “I am an addict” and I define that to mean that I am not healed of the compulsion, then I deny the power I have felt in my recovery.

    Because I’ve experienced sexual addiction, I do have a higher predisposition towards potentially acting out sexually compared to someone with no history of sexual addiction. But I personally do not define that as an addiction nor do I believe that someone can be permanently addicted. Memory and temptation are not how I define addiction.

    I would consider my addiction to pornography the same way I would consider a scar that no longer hurts or affects my life anymore. When I look at my scar, I definitely remember what it was like when I received it and how it used to hurt constantly, but now those are nothing but memories. Yes I remember exactly how one gains a scar like that and in a way am most likely more predisposed towards getting another scar just like that than most people. But while I associate those memories with pain, I also associate them with feelings of joy and healing and I consider both of those recollections as blessings from a loving Higher Power. It’s led me to ponder why His son, being a perfect resurrected being, kept the scars in his hands, feet, and side. Why would He want to keep the memory of the most painful experience in His life with Him? I like to think it’s the same reason I’ll never forget from whom my healing came and why I’ll never forget it.

    I’ll never forget where I’ve been and I’ll never forget who I am. And where I’ve been is NOT who I am. I owe that to my Higher Power and the blessings of 12-step groups, sponsors, and the qualified therapy that He has provided me.

  7. 12 years ago when I started attending SA and reading the White Book, my emotional pain was 10 out of 10 – I was separated from my wife, living in a new state – in my cousin’s basement – alone – and unemployed due to being fired. I remember reading in the White Book a promise – something like: “we can look forward to a day when the compulsion will be removed, but the temptation will always be there.” I held on to that promise and after one year of total sobriety (and working the steps with a sponsor), I felt the promise come true in my recovery journey. HOWEVER, I learned after receiving a 5 year chip, that I got comfortable and slacked off on my “dailies” – and sure enough, I slipped up and was devastated. Since then there have been some additional slips (some were binges), but the pain always brought me back to recovery.

    I have always thought that comparing the disease of addiction to the disease of diabetes was useful in understanding treatment. Diabetes, as I understand, is a chronic disease that must be managed by taking daily diabetes medication (insulin). The painful symptoms of diabetes only occur when a person fails to take his/her medication. What is my recovery medication? My dailies!

    I love the phrase: “30 Minutes per Day = 24 Hours of Freedom”. My dailies include – Connecting with God by mentally going thru steps 1-2-3 and saying The Serenity Prayer – and asking Him – “What’s the next Right Thing to do?” It’s called “conscious contact with God”. Then reading recovery literature and writing out some feelings or step work. Then attending 2 meetings a week or anticipating and planning to attend. Calling my sponsor AND one other recovering addict just to say hi and check in.

    So although I may always be dealing with the disease of addiction (lust temptation) until I die, I have learned to take my daily recovery medication (see above). When a lust wave hits, or the temptation to take a 2nd look grabs me – I am no longer “compelled” to indulge that lust further. The compulsion has been removed by the medication – and I can enjoy another 24 hours of freedom. I am grateful that this disease of addiction keeps me connected to my Higher Power who has made my weakness into a strength – and to all the amazing men I have met in SA and SAL who have shown me the way. These 12-step groups have become to me a “fellowship of the unashamed”. My love to you all – truly!
    EDDIE

    1. Amen Eddie. Thanks for your experience and the comparison of diabetes to our drug of choice.

      What I’m learning is that my experience is mine, it helps me see things differently if I let it.

      Someone else’s experience is their’s: it may be different than mine and that doesn’t mean it’s wrong – just different.

      True sobriety and recovery are things I can watch for as I learn from and connect with others in the “fellowship of the unashamed.”

      Thanks again for your insight.

  8. I believe I will always be an addict. The question is will I be an active addict or and addict in recovery?

    In work and in sports the more we plan, train and prepare BEFORE our actions the more we win or positively influence the outcome. This holds true in life but I sometimes forget. When I forget I fail or slip.

    For me every day the rest of my life I have to do 1 of 5 things every day.
    Pray
    Work the steps
    Surrender
    Reach out
    Talk to my sponsor.

    These coments and discussions help me so much. When I hear men talk about one year or more sober then slipping I am reminded that recovery is a gift the result of planning and actions. If i get complacent I don’t plan and work on my plan and the outcome is not as good as I want.

    Thank all of you for helping my recovery.

    1. Thanks Tony!

      Why do you think many debate this topic? What’s wrong with the label of addict in recovery?

      I’m glad the comments and discussions are helpful. Keep coming back!

      1. I think we want to be fixed. I think the term addict implies active. For me if someone says they are a drug or alcohol addict they will generally follow with length of sobriety. As a society we generally say congratulations or awesome. But a sex addict is perceived in my opinion as either not a thing or bad in some way. Whether it is a pervert or something worse legally. I believe that sex addiction, particularly related to pornography, is a huge problem and the more we ignore it the more we are not going to fix the problem and help each other. I think that SAL is doing a good job to bring light to the issue in a positive way. This brotherhood is critical to my and our recovery. God Bless.

        1. Thanks Tony. I agree – we want to be fixed, we want to get rid of this, and unfortunately, for me, my choices have programmed my brain to go to these actions as a way to cope with emotional trials.

          I too believe it’s a huge problem, one that isn’t addressed enough because, to many people, it’s not a problem at all or they think it’s normal – boys will be boys idea.

          I’m hoping that this post and this one (https://salifeline.org/wifes-perspective-addict-label-part-1/) will help keep the conversation going.

          Thanks for your comments and thoughts.

  9. For me, I have to look at the brain and how it functions to know if labels like “addict” are appropriate or not. Like Steven C. said, you don’t start out an addict the first time you look at porn or masturbate; but the longer you persist in any habit the stronger the neural pathways for that behavior become.

    So, assuming our acting out has become habitual to the point of struggling to stop the behaviors, if we look at the structures created in the brain (strong neural pathways and the increasing tolerances to reward chemicals) in support of the habits of any addiction, and in particular how unhealthy sexual expression warps the brain’s reward systems in pretty dramatic ways, then by those physiological markers alone we have to at least be willing to accept that our brains/we have become addicted and habituated to unhealthy sex.

    Here’s the real kicker:
    Once those neural pathways are formed they cannot be removed (the brain doesn’t get rid of them, ever) except by brain death (Alzheimer’s, drug/alcohol abuse, etc.). However, they can be overshadowed and choked off by the new habits of the ‘new normal’ of recovery, IF worked on long enough, believed in deeply enough, and pursued with sufficient intent. The brain will basically grow new neural pathways around the old addiction nerve bundles and pathways, effectively giving the brain bigger conduits (habits) that don’t look like addictive behaviors. But the old neural pathways are still there, and should we ever reignite them they take very little energy to be back in full force, and it becomes harder to overgrow again with new recovery habits.

    1. Thanks J.R. That’s great stuff.

      I know, for me, I thought in 2010 that I’d “recovered,” that I could go back to my “normal” way of life, that I didn’t need to go to meetings anymore or work this recovery stuff anymore.

      Then, by 2013 I’d crossed lines I never thought I’d cross, although that’s weird to say because I’d thought up those scenarios in my fantasy-addicted mind thousands of times.

      I realize today that I was never even close to “healed” or “recovered” in 2010. I also realize that the pathways, when re-ignited after a temporary bypass, come back even stronger and more potent.

      I’m grateful to have you as a friend in recovery one day at a time.

  10. I guess its all perspective on what the word ‘addict’ connotes in one’s mind, and one guys perspective is as respectable as mine, so i hope no one takes this the wrong way.- being an addict and saying I’m one to me connotes the constant need for correction, Grace, and humility. I simply don’t think it is offensive to God, or minimizes his saving Grace to refer to myself as an addict. ( because I know I still am one) It keeps me humble every, single time I say that ‘…and my Grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me’

    1. Amen Cameron. I agree that it’s all about perspective. Unfortunately, for most of my life, my “perspective” was that this was just a bad habit that I would “cure” if I talked to the Bishop enough, once I got married, if my wife gave me what I wanted when I wanted it, if the “chemistry” was right, and the list could go on and on and on…

      I have constant need for correction. And as I work my own recovery, I am realizing that more and more. I remember thinking, when I was white-knuckle sober via another recovery meeting, that “Man, once I get this taken care of I’ll be pretty close to perfect…” What a lie I was telling myself!

      I hadn’t even THOUGHT of character defects as things that distance me between God and others. Negative emotions weren’t even a topic of conversation, nor did I realize they were the start of all the other things that would happen in my addict cycle.

      For me, calling myself an addict, admitting that I’m broken – these are things I choose to be accountable for one day at a time for the rest of my life.

      Thanks for your comment!

  11. I am an addict, I will always be an addict. I have come to terms with that and that “addict” is not a dirty word or any different than a habitual sinner. Addict to me means I am today and always will be in the future 100% dependent on a higher power. Anytime I forget this puts me in jeopardy of relapse.

    I have found that in my recovery whenever I feel to pull or choose to move away from higher power, leaving me vulnerable, the quickest way to return to strength and hope is to admit my powerlessness and fully recognize my addiction. In my case, I have come to terms with that fact never changing in my life unless God’s will allows for that change. Fighting His will is a pointless exercise in my case.

  12. For me, the use of the word ‘Addict’ in describing myself gives me a sort of power back over my addiction. I went to the LDS Church’s addiction recovery meetings for a month or two (after years and years of fruitless effort on my own) before I was ever comfortable with that term, and as soon as I started describing myself as an addict, I felt that I was finally starting to be honest about where I was and where I was headed.

    But I digress. I think the original question is “should you keep calling yourself an addict” and on that note I would have to concur with some of the comments above. As long as the pattern of tolerance, addiction, and withdrawal is present in my life, I will be an addict. All signs indicate that this will be a lifelong endeavor.

  13. For me, this topic has a lot to do with shame. Shame: I am bad. Guilt: I did something bad. Shame: I am a mistake. Guilt: I made a mistake.
    I don’t equate saying to myself and others “I’m a sex addict” with “I am bad”; more with “I made some mistakes and bad choices that have created a new reality that I must deal with”.
    I am not proud of the choices and feel regret and remorse for them; this is a catalyst for positive change for me.
    When I think I am bad (shame) and have no hope of redemption, I have little motivation to change.

    What I’m trying to say is that if saying you’re an addict comes from a place of shame it will likely be destructive. If it comes from a place of guilt it will likely be helpful. Research by Brené Brown (I’m a fan) backs this up.

    The other part of the equation is that of humility. Recognizing that I need help from others, but can also provide help – has been enormously helpful in gaining better perspective for me.
    I can see how I could easily fall into the trap of wanting to be cured from this addiction so I could consider myself strong, worthy, and better than those with this problem.
    My truth is that empathy (huge catalyst to connection) is shared between people when they understand they are on even plane. It is not the relationship between the wounded and the healed, but between equals.
    Are we not all beggars and all in need of the grace of our higher power? Is it my place to judge someone else’s mistakes and compare them to mine? Do I not need to extend mercy to others if I am to have hope of receiving it myself?

    Saying out loud that I am a sex addict keeps me grounded in humility and away from the tendency to try to win my own salvation.

    1. Thanks Ken.

      To me, it gets complicated to distinguish the difference between shame and guilt for me, especially when I’m in full-blown addict (behaviors and/or actions). My mind and heart are so clouded by thoughts and feelings.

      How do you differentiate?

      I agree so much that reminding myself that I am “powerless, that my life is unmanageable” and that I need God to help me keeps me grounded. Reminding myself about where I’ve been by stating my addictive tendencies is only helpful.

      Thanks for your feedback Ken. Look forward to your insights on how to differentiate between guilt and shame.

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