Welcome to Love and Sex Today. I’m Dr. Doug Weiss and our eleventh topic is exciting—“Breaking Free from the Strongholds of Addiction.” In our last post, we talked about, “Am I Addicted?” If you read that one and found yourself thinking, “Yes, that’s me,” then this post is definitely going to be for you.
Also, if you’re just a person who happens to attract people who tell you their stories and ask for help, whether you’re a bartender, hairdresser, massage therapist, or just a good friend to people who say, “Hey, can I tell you something?” you’re going to want to read this post as well because you’re the person they’re going to go to for help. You might as well read, spend a few minutes with us today, and see what you can do to help others.
If it’s you, see what you can do to help yourself. See what you can do to get yourself into living instead of surviving with an addiction. Again, it doesn’t matter what addiction we’re talking about today. It could be pornography. It could be alcohol. It could be drugs. It could be gambling. It could be spending. It could be debt. It could be overeating. It could be under-eating. It doesn’t matter what the addictive process is. It could be intimacy anorexia, withholding love from your spouse. It can be any of these addictive processes, or several that we haven’t mentioned.
You can be free. I have been free from addictions for over 30 years. In some cases, 35 years. I’ve been a recovering alcoholic, drug addict, sex addict, caffeine addict, and sugar addict. I know what recovery looks like. I know what it is to break addiction. I know how it is to stay free. You can be free your entire life from an addiction. You just have to get started, get some really good basic information, and get moving. You won’t get different results if you keep the same behavior.
What I’m going to talk about comes from two of my books today. One is “Recovery for Everyone.” If you have an addiction, or you’re trying to help someone with an addiction, this would be a good primer for you. The other book is “Get a Grip.” If you’re struggling with a behavior, there are a lot \ of principles in there to help you get control of your life and get control of what’s controlling you.
Today we’re talking about breaking free from the strongholds of addiction. This is serious stuff. I want to give you some basic principles. Now the first part of any freedom from addiction is getting out of denial. Only the addict themselves can get out of denial. If you have something you’ve tried to break and you can’t get free, you know you need help. It’s time to just acknowledge that. That’s not weakness. That’s strength. It’s strength to know when you need support to get to the next place in your life.
The older you get, the more mature you get. Humanity is about interdependence. It’s not about independence. In Western society, we overvalue the second stage of development, which is independence, as opposed to interdependence. Interdependence is when I can trust other people and together we get to where we’re going. I’ve always been about building teams. I have so many great teams. I have administrative teams. If you call us at “Heart to Heart Counseling Center,” at 719-278-3708, you will meet my administrative team. They are wonderful. I have a great clinical team. I have great support teams in various projects and businesses. I love that. Addiction is one of those situations where you have to get out of denial and first reach out to others.
Let me give you some basic principles here. The first one starts with the Five C’s. This comes from my books, “Recovery for Everyone,” “The Final Freedom,” and in several other workbooks. The Five C’s are pretty simple.
The first one is pray. Now I don’t really have a concern about your God concept. That’s not the purpose of our blog. I remember one guy was like, “You know, Dr. Weiss, I don’t believe in God.” I said, “I didn’t ask you to believe in God. I asked you to pray, so just pray.” I’ll never forget his response. About three weeks later he was like, “You know what? I don’t know about this God thing, but this prayer thing really works.” He went through how many different prayers he was praying and how they were answered.
Again, this is not a theology thing. This is just a pragmatic thing because addictions rob you of spiritual development. Where you’re robbed, you need to take some action. What you want to pray is “God, just help me stay clean today.” Whether it’s clean from a person, or clean from some kind of substance, “God, I just need your help. Whatever is out there, please help me.” Okay? I never heard a sincere, honest prayer not responded to at some point, so you pray.
Number two is read literature. You want to get your hands on books that can help you. My book “Recovery for Anyone” is a primer for any addiction, but you also want to get books on your specific type of addiction. There are thousands of books on various types of addictions. Get a few of those that look good. Read some of the reviews. Start chewing on stories and principles that have to do with your particular addiction. If you have a sex addiction, my book “The Final Freedom” is a good primer. I also wrote a book on intimacy anorexia. Many of the addictions we’re talking about have their own books. There are many authors doing good work on all these subjects.
Number three might be the hardest and that is go to a group. There are recovery groups for all kinds of addiction. I could spend five hours just going through the list of groups, but you know what type of addiction you have. Just put that addiction in Google and put “support group,” or put “12-Step group” and “addiction.” I’m sure you will find something that can help you. There are all kinds of blogs and online groups.
There are all kinds of support for you. You will not do this by yourself. That idea has to die for you to be successful. Once you create a team, teams win. The first word in 12 Steps is, “We admitted that we’re powerless.” If you don’t get into “we” and you still do “me,” a stronger me, a smarter me, and a more informed me, you will fail. But a “we,” you could be less informed, less intelligent, less successful in life and still be more successful in addiction recovery than someone who’s brilliant and successful in different areas of their life because “we” works.
I’ll never forget when I was in an alcohol and drug treatment center for years. This was back in the early eighties when people would stay for six months at a time. I’ll never forget this group of people there. They were there for about ninety days together. I was their tech. I would drive them to the AA meetings and NA meetings. There was this group of really college-educated, white-collar people. Then there was this guy who had big scars all over him. He was probably in his mid-sixties, had broken teeth all over, a motorcycle rider, and was probably at an eighth-grade education level. There was nothing wrong with any of that, that’s just who he was.
We went to meetings and they were told what to do: “Read your book, go to meetings, do the step.” Well, when they all got discharged, the group of people who were so smart, and clever, and intelligent, and successful had a party. They all got drunk and wasted. But the motorcycle guy didn’t. He just did what he was told to do: read his big book everyday, went to a meeting everyday, and the rest of what we’re talking about here, and he’s been sober. He got sober while the other people didn’t because he did the “we” and the “we” works. The “we” is when you get your body in a room with somebody else that can help you, who has the same issue, and you will find success. Pray, read, go to meetings.
Number four: make phone calls. This is important everyday for the first ninety days. When you go to group, go ahead and get some phone numbers from people. Now in some group cultures, this isn’t as cool as others, but when appropriate, get some phone numbers and say, “Listen, I just need to call someone everyday, check in.”
This has been one of the particular things we use in our formula of success for addiction and it works so tremendously. You build your own community if you make a phone call everyday. When you are struggling, you will find yourself reflexively making a phone call, and not going back to your addiction, or your relationship, or whatever it is that you’re trying to get free from. You will find yourself building a team and using your team so that when your brain isn’t working, you’re actually utilizing the brain of someone who is sober and sane at the moment. There’s an old saying, “We’re not all insane at the same time.” If you’re feeling insane with your addictive process, the other person is most likely not. Pray, read, meetings, and make phone calls.
Number five: pray again. Thank God everyday. Thank your higher power. Thank whatever you want to for, “Hey, thank you for keeping me clean today.” Again, this is just you opening up your spiritual development. It will go where it needs to go. Don’t worry. This isn’t about being manipulated. It’s just opening up your heart to something that’s bigger than you are. That’s usually a really important part of recovery.
Another thing you can do, which comes out of our book “Get a Grip,” is you can establish consequences or rewards for yourself. If you relapse, give yourself a consequence. Maybe you have to go pick up trash, or eat a raw onion, or do some kind of community service for a couple hours.
I’ll never forget. I had this guy who was so out of control. He was going to 12-Step support groups and he wasn’t getting better. We established a consequence. He’d pick up trash for two hours if he acted out. Well, he did and he picked up trash. He didn’t like that because of his own ego. After that first time picking up trash, he stayed clean for eight months in a row. He had a short relapse and got back into recovery. Setting up a consequence can be very helpful.
Some people are motivated by reward. Okay, then set yourself up a reward: “If I get 30, 60, 90 days clean, then I will reward myself in some positive way.” That’s fine, but consequences and rewards will be good things to have in overcoming your addiction.
Finishing up today’s topic, I have a really important thing to talk about. If you’re going to get help, get professional help. Make sure they know what they’re doing. Make sure they’re certified. If you Google “sexual addiction help” in your city, you will find that 90% of them are not certified. I’m the president of the “American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy.” I certify counselors all over the world, but people advertise things that they’re not necessarily qualified to treat.
If you’re in need of a drug and alcohol counselor, make sure they’re a certified drug and alcohol counselor. If it’s sex addiction, make sure they’re a sexual recovery therapist or something comparable. If you have addiction, whether it’s codependency, relationship, love addiction, spending, shopping, gambling, it doesn’t matter, make sure the help you seek is qualified in your area of addiction, because you don’t want to go to a generalist when you’re dealing with addiction. Addictions are aggressive, and they’re hostile. It is important to have someone who has great insight and helpful tools for you to get well.
As always, I want you to go to loveandsextoday.com. Subscribe there. Review us on iTunes. We’d love to hear from you and we’d love to know that your love and sex is improving. We’d love to know that your life is improving. This blog is about big issues, but with practical tools. In every post, we want you to walk away with something you cannot only help yourself with, but you can help others with. I really want you to live an addiction-free life. You really deserve that. Okay? If you write a review, you could be picked for a conversation with myself, Dr. Doug Weiss, to help you accelerate an area of your life. It will be priceless. It will be fun. It will be great to get to know you in that way. Also on the webpage of loveandsextoday.com, there is a free chapter of one of my books. We want you to enjoy that. Remember, always have great love and great sex today.