April 24, 2013
When I was younger, this expression meant that I had left one property boundary and was perched on the fence and about perhaps to move off to the other side and the other property be it a yard, the woods, the road, etc. The expression is often times used in a way that is illustrative like this…. Read more
February 25, 2013
The study of escape behaviors has led to making new discoveries about how it works not only mentally but also physically. For example, there are several chemicals released in a sex addicts body. These chemicals include adrenalin, serotonin, dopamine, catecholamine, and oxytocin. These same chemicals are related to the ones released in a heroine addicts brain. Read more
October 12, 2012
The word surrender is typically used in a war context. A side in war surrenders when they are up against a superior force that they cannot beat. Likewise, an escape behavior becomes a superior force that cannot be beaten by self will. Too many battles have been lost, morale is low, and resources are used up. The only option left is to surrender. However, rather than surrender to the power of the escape behavior, we surrender to a superior force who is our ally God. Read more
July 16, 2012
I was recently talking with an addict I know who said his sponsor asked if he hated his addiction or as we say in SFT, escape behavior. He is at the point where he can say yes he hates his escape behavior he struggles with. Why is this question so important? Because not hating an escape behavior leads to white knuckling. Read more
February 21, 2012
By Eddy Farough
2 Samuel 11:2,4 - One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing…. David sent messengers to get her and he slept with her. Read more
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.
March 25, 2010
The western culture in which we live has a problem of having more choices available than ever before. This rings true for people who desire to address their own escape behaviors. There are currently so many options of escape, from drugs to surgical procedures, that it is very important to make sure the method used is not just a band aid. In other words, it is not enough to simply address symptoms; a person must address the reason for the behavior.
One SFT participant who had a problem with food addiction received gastric bypass surgery. Gastric bypass surgery is a procedure that prevents the stomach from allowing as much food intake as before. The problem the participant ran into was that she still wanted to overeat regardless of what size her stomach was. She had applied a band aid without addressing why she was overeating in the first place. She addressed a symptom rather than the problem.
On old country song by Webb Pierce provides a lyrical representation of this problem.
“There stands the glass… That will ease all my pain… That will settle my brain… It’s my first one today… There stands the glass… That will hide all my tears… That will drown all my fears… Brother, I’m on my way…
“I’m wondering where you are tonight… I’m wondering if you are alright… I wonder if you think of me… In my misery… There stands the glass… Fill it up to the brim… ‘Til my troubles grow dim… It’s my first one to day.”
The song correctly illustrates the reason for his behavior, namely to escape what hurts him and forget about what is causing pain.
It is interesting to note that many programs available go straight into addressing the behavior without addressing the reason for the behavior. This is the reason people who have had gastic bypass surgery still overeat. It is why containment of a behavior alone will not be enough. Luke 6:43-45 says:
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasures of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
In other words, if someone comes to SFT training and claims to stuggle with alcohol, we could say “do not drink anymore.” However, that would be like expecting an apple tree to produce oranges. Apple trees only produce apples and orange trees only produce oranges. Therefore, rather than address the fruit a person is producing, it makes more sense to address the tree (person).
A person who stops a behavior without changing himself is still the same person as before. This means that a relapse, a switch in behaviors, or “white knuckle” living is inevitable. Only when a person works to completely change himself can he fully shut down an unwanted behavior.
March 1, 2010
What about responsibility for individual behaviors and actions? There is no point at which an individual is not responsible for his or her own actions. However, when behaviors go past the point of being altered by choice, and they not only can but often do, not only is the person that uses the destructive behavior responsible for what he or she does, but those that are spiritual, according to Paul, have a responsibility to help restore the one who is overtaken by sin. Read more
February 23, 2010
Could it be possible that both the secular and religious worlds’ views of addiction have value? Could it be that alcoholism, for example, does reach the point where it qualifies as a disease but is brought about by sinful choices as the religious world claims? What’s really happening when a behavior reaches the point that it cannot be stopped with maximum effort? If the behavior involved only sinful choices, then choice alone should be enough to stop. However, sadly that is not the case. Read more