September 16, 2011
by Gary Washer
Many people in the world struggle with some type of addiction, whether it is anger, sex, substances, or work. Many of these same people play a game with themselves. They will tell themselves things like, “I will stop this time.”
They may make an effort to go to counseling, AA/NA, or church ministries and programs. The game is that they keep looking for the next thing to learn or the next program that will be the big step that makes it all better.
In other words, this person is basing their recovery all on his own efforts. This is the last addiction: thinking that I can stop the behavior with my own power and means. The problem with this way of addressing addiction is that if the addict could stop with their own power, then why have they not stopped already?
Anyone reading this who finds himself or herself partaking in the last addiction will enjoy Sharon Hersh’s book “The Last Addiction.“ Sharon is a recovering alcoholic and counselor. She knows about the last addiction because she had it in her own life. She recommends we do everything in our power to recover, but in the end we must rely on something outside of us. Find her book on our recommended readings page and find out what she discovered that can end the last addiction.
September 12, 2011
by Ed Farough
When someone hears of alcohol addiction, or drug addiction, there is a modern understanding that a person has become addicted physiologically to a mind altering substance through usage over a lengthy time period. People see the reality that someone can reach a point in which their need for the “fix” from the substance can outweigh important priorities such as family time, work, time with God, etc. These addictions form very powerful lives of their own and wreak havoc among individual behaviors and touch many lives over many months and years.
As the body and mind become expectant and dependent upon the chemical transfers within the brain, it usually takes a series of consequences such as physical change, a loss of relationship, or a financial/legal consequence before one reaches a point in seeing that help is going to be required for the body and mind and one’s thinking and behaviors to normalize and change. This can be a lengthy process. Once a person sees their need for help and the depth of the problem, their first step is to reach out beyond self and seek recovery. Thus a true healing process can begin and real change and hope can slowly manifest and grow.
Over the last 15-20 years, clinicians and experts have seen a large increase in another area of addiction which often is not recognized with the same attention or seriousness as either alcohol or drug addiction. If the phrases ‘sexual addiction’ or ‘addiction to pornography’ sound surprising, the statistics and the volume of people being seen and treated for these problems is growing every year. Addiction? Really? YES, REALLY. As alcohol or drug use each have a chemically altering influence on the brain, so too does pornography. Some who are reading at this point might be thinking, “C’mon, are you serious, I mean, just unhook the computer and go for a jog or install a filter”. It is not that simple for the addict who has built up dependency and tolerance within addiction to pornography.
If it were simple to discontinue, the pornography industry would not be a multi-billion dollar industry. Did you know that at any given minute, worldwide, 42.7% of the users online are viewing pornographic imagery? A recent Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event and nearly the same percentage shared that it was an ongoing problem within their lives.
Here, you may be asking the question….. “How does one become addicted, or dependent on ‘pornography or sexual experience’?” It just doesn’t make sense. There should be awareness, the behavior should just stop via more self control, and the person should be more pure and committed. All of this seems reasonable doesn’t it? Often, there is a miss-perception that sexual addiction is simply just mental, or habitual and that it is not as strong as say cocaine addiction. Clinical information begs to differ. There is a powerful chemical transfer within the brain during the cycle of sexual acting out. These escape behaviors carry with them very powerful brain altering processes which affect everything from sleep patterns to waking thoughts and even can rearrange things physiologically so that without the next ‘fix’ or ‘high’, a person will become irritable, depressed, isolated, and lost inside a secret life.
Just as alcohol and drugs alter the brain chemically, so does pornography usage. Here’s how…..
Altered Brain Chemistry
The brain chemistry of an individual with addictive behavior is complex. Simply put, there are Neurotransmitters which function inside the brain. Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that transmit signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse. When addictive behavior is taking place, whether it be visual/physical interaction with pornography, or chemical use as with cocaine, nicotine, alcohol, or heroine, just to name a few, the brain gets flooded with various neurotransmitters. Over prolonged participation (usage), the frequency and intensity must increase and intensify to deliver the same results due to the reality that the sensors and receptors involved in these transmissions begin to lose sensitivity and wear down. The term for this is called Tolerance. The body and mind slowly develop a dependency through which the day to day function is normal only when these transfers are achieved and the altered state of comfort or relief is accomplished.
Within Sexual Addiction Behaviorally
There are two main areas of the brain within an individual in Sexual addiction that are affected. These are within the Limbic system in the brain
involving the Nucleus Acubon (pleasure center) and the Amygdula (emotion,recall,arousal).
There are 5 different Neurotransmitters (chemicals) involved when visual images of sexual immorality are taken through the visual cortex and into
- Epinephrine (provides a “rush” stimulus effect)
- Dopamine (associated with movement, perception, and the brain’s pleasure/reward center)
- Oxytocin (involved in muscle contraction and nerve sensitivity, combines with dopamine)
- Catecholamine (group of endorphins with an opiate effect produced from adrenal glands)
- Serotonin (a relaxing chemical which effects sleep, depression, etc.)
In summation within the brain chemistry, there is a “rush” from stimulus or arousal, paired with intense transmissions within the brain’s pleasure/recall center, a heightened sense of muscle contraction and nerve sensitivity and an endorphin rush of opiates (EXTREMELY addictive) and lastly a relaxing feel good ‘satisfied’ feeling.
The combination of factors experienced via pornography over time is very addictive and can progress to an alarming level. Even though there can be severe consequences, one may not be able to stop the behaviors. A person involved will see alterations in their lifestyle, relationships, spiritual interests, work performance, financial accountability, and will feel much shame and guilt due to what is occurring in their ‘secret’ life. Often, this shame and guilt keeps one walled up about what is going on, and they do not seek to share about the issues or behaviors thus everything continues progressing and more tolerance and dependence take hold. This is why some addicts (and people close to them) do not understand why two years ago, there might have been 3-4 hours per month possibly on the internet viewing pornography. Now it has progressed to 3-4 hours per night.
As sexual addiction grows, it cannot be ignored any longer. It is affecting church members at alarming rates. Marriages, work loss, financial consequences, relational isolation, spiritual indifference, sleep deprivation, and many other realities are being impacted by this ‘secret other life’. As it takes time for this to progress, it also takes time for recovery. The good news is, similar to other proven recovery outlets and methods that already exist for other addictions, there are structured and proven effective programs for sexual addiction as well. Often within just 90 days, real progress and recovery can begin to take hold and thoughts and behaviors begin to change.
September 8, 2011
This has been an exciting past three months for SFT Awareness. We have come so far in working with new participants, adding new trainers to the ministry and achieving the goals we set for this
ministry. With help and guidance from the Lord, this ministry continues to move forward in reaching out to help others by building strong and lasting relationships with participants and churches.
Currently, we are working with four participants who are aspiring to be trainers before the year is out. One of our future trainers is located in Nashville and the other three reside in Malaysia. We are thrilled to continue adding volunteer trainers to our staff every quarter. Last month, Dona Drake, from Alabama, became our newest trainer. Dona has a background in counseling and psychology. The SFT
staff is very excited to have her join our team. In addition to this, Janna Gonzalez, our bilingual trainer in Texas, is graduating this month with a degree in Biblical Studies from the Texas International Bible Institute. She has been asked to present SFT Awareness to the church of Christ Spanish Seminar in Daytona, Florida, August 12th-13th. To contact either one of these ladies for individual sessions, classes or workshops, please visit our website www.sftawareness.org.
Jimmy Hill is continuing to work on the participant workbook. Our goal is to have this workbook completed before the end of this year, and we are looking forward to adding it to our curriculum. It will provide participants with varrious ways to learn, retain and practice SFT training. He and his wife just returned from Sabanilla, Costa Rica where we held a week long SFT class for the Sabanilla church of Christ. His wife also helped organize their church’s VBS and I preached two Sundays.
Gary Washer, our program director, has been putting together an SFT Advisory Board. This board is designed to help the SFT staff move forward in accomplishing our mission and staying on task. The advisory board includes David Pope, our ministry’s treasurer as well as one of its most faithful and consistent supporters; Brian Coulter, elder at Highland Heights church of Christ and respected community businessman; Josh Pappas, education minister of Highland Heights who holds a degree in Biblical Studies and Brett Evans who has contributed to the ministry through valuable marketing advice and fundraising efforts. We feel this board will help us successfully move into the future with guidance and wisdom.
SFT Awareness continues to help people all over the world through individual sessions. In the past two months we have worked with over 50 people in 239 individual sessions. During these sessions, we teach participants how to remove obstacles that hinder them from developing peace-filled lives. This year alone, we have worked with individuals in Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Georgia, Malaysia, Costa Rica and Ecuador. With 98% of people in our society carrying emotional pain at some point in their lives, SFT Awareness has been a shining light to thousands across our nation and the world. We want to continue to draw people closer to Jesus Christ by teaching them how to remove the pain in their lives. We appreciate your prayers on behalf of our endeavor to reach the world.
September 8, 2011
Everyone on this earth will go through hurtful events at some point in their lives. There is no way around this fact. So often people have distorted thinking towards these different events because of using thinking errors. One of these common thinking errors is the Heaven’s Reward Fallacy which is the belief that bad things do not happen to good people. The first article on Biblical Solutions to Heaven’s Reward Fallacy covered several key biblical concepts that address this problem thinking. This article will focus on several things that Jesus had to say about this distorted way of thinking.
John 9:1-4 starts with the disciples seeing a man who was born blind. They ask, “Who sinned that this man was born blind, him or his parents?” The disciples assume someone must have done something wrong for this man to be born blind, as through the condition of the man is a punishment for his parents’ sin. However, Ezekiel 18:19,20 makes it very clear that the son does not receive punishment for the father’s iniquity nor the father for the son’s. Jesus, knowing this passage and using accurate thinking, was able to tell his disciples that no one sinned to cause this man to be born blind. This man’s blindness was really an opportunity to show the works of God.
It is a tragedy when believers fail to give God glory when going through difficult circumstances because of heaven’s reward fallacy. Nonbelievers expect Christians to praise God when everything is good. It is when Christians praise God when everything is bad that make heads turn. Romans 5:1-5 says to rejoice in tribulation because tribulation is what makes us grow.
In Luke 13:1-5 Jesus talks about Galileans who were killed by Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, and the tower of Siloam that fell and killed people. He asks if these people were any more unrighteous than anyone else? The answer is no. Tragedy is no respecter of persons and can happen at any time to anybody. These people that Jesus referred to in Luke were like everyone else going through their normal routine when tragedy struck. Jesus’ point in this passage is to be ready at all times for tragedy and the end.
At SFT Awareness, we want to leave you with the question: are you ready? If not, please call us at 615-322-5300 or email at email@example.com.