Help for Sex Addiction: Sex Addiction Treatment
Recognizing that you are a sex addict is the beginning. So many recovering sex addicts tell the story about the moment they heard the term sex addiction, they knew immediately that it was about them. Others report that it took some avoidable disaster before they finally admitted to themselves they had a problem. Whenever the realization comes, there is one more hurdle. They have to get help. Reading and understanding only goes so far. Real change comes from a process usually involving professional as well as self help programs. Trying it on your own simply prolongs the agony.
The further problem is finding good help. Unfortunately we live in a time when funding and support for mental health and addiction services is difficult. Although addiction is our number one medical and social problem, our health system is reluctant to pay for it. Many reasons exist for this paradox and as you progress you will grow in your understanding of them.
In addition, in the professional community there are still clinicians who do not accept addiction let alone sex addiction. Despite clinical experience and a growing body of scientific evidence, we in fact do not have a diagnosis of sex addiction or equivalent term in our diagnostic code books. And probably that will not change for a minimum of another six to twelve years. In turn this means that most health insurance programs will not pay for treatment or therapy – although that is starting to change. As it turns out there are many creative ways to get help and to pay for it. You have to find people with experience in working with the problem.
One of the disheartening stories often heard is of people who went to therapists or medical professionals who had no experience or knowledge of the problem. Time and money were wasted. Sometimes things were made worse. However, there are talented, well trained clinicians who understand what the sex addict faces and have extensive experience in helping them. All of which leaves sex addicts and their families with the problem of how to find those professionals. The following guide will help you.
In the pattern of those who put together successful recoveries, part of the profile is being with a skilled therapist. Usually, therapy lasts at least and up to five years. Here are the things you look for:
- More than likely you will join a twelve step group. Ask members of the group who are the good therapists who work with sex addicts. In the twelve step communities word spreads quickly about the "good" ones.
- You must remember that you are consumer of health services and have the right to ask questions about your therapist and therapy. It actually is a decision that is mutual. You have to decide whether this person can help you. The therapist assesses whether the patient is willing to do what it takes to face this problem.
- There are two key criteria for finding a therapist. First, look for a CSAT (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist). This is an extended training process that includes critical concepts and supervision in working with sex addicts. On the opening page of sexhelp.com, you will see a "find a therapist" section. This allows you to access the certified therapists in your area.
- Look for therapists who also offer a therapy group as well as individual therapy. Are there any educational components to what they have to offer patients in the form of workshops, psycho-education, and/or materials?
- If you still cannot find a therapist in your local area, another option is to look for someone who specializes in general addiction work. Other organizations that can help you are ASAM (American Society for Addiction Medicine – www.asam.org), American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders (www.americanacademy.org/resources), and NAADAC (National Association of Addiction and Drug Counselors – www.naadac.org). Pine Grove Recovery Center also has an extensive national network. You can reach them at 888-574-4673. Finally, when all else does not work, please call our office at 800-708-1796. We often know of people who are not on anyone's list that would be able to help you.
Remember that it is extremely important for family members also to receive therapy. Part of the successful profile, for example, is when family members (especially the primary partner) are involved. Success increases when those family members commit to therapy for themselves. If there is a marriage or partnership, the most success happens when both partners commit to couples therapy and a twelve-step couples program. For more information on family issues, go to www.sexhelp.com.
Throughout the United States and Canada, there are treatment programs for sex addiction. The reasons that people go to treatment are many. The leading one is a failure to stay sober while working with a local therapist. Sometimes it is clear from the initial interview that outpatient therapy will not be enough. Your therapist will tell you that and make suggestions where you might go. Another reason people seek treatment is that their lives are in chaos and they know that they need intensive treatment. Speaking plainly, sometimes you just know you need extra help. Going to treatment first and then going to see a local therapist or outpatient program is a route that many have used to start recovery. The intensive work accelerates the process and therefore can save time.
Most treatment programs offer daily group, psycho-education, twelve-step help, family treatment, skill building, and relapse prevention. Those that have completed treatment say that it was the best thing they ever did for themselves. Part of that emerges from the daily unrelenting power of therapy. It can break through denial in ways that outpatient therapy does not. Selecting the right treatment program is critical. Here are details for look for:
- The program should have a solid basis in a well-trained staff. Ask if their staff members are CSAT certified. Look for a program that has a history of treating sex addiction and addictions in general. Are the professionals involved and well-recognized for their achievements and/or contributions to the field? An example would be if they have written for the public about sex addiction.
- Look for programs that are longer than thirty days. It takes longer than four weeks to get the traction you need. Optimum is approximately forty to forty-five days. The extra ten days make a world of difference even though that may seem like a lot of time. If you comparison shop, you will find that high-quality program of forty days or longer can actually cost less than thirty-day programs, while matching or exceeding the clinical offerings. Look for non-profit programs if price or insurance are issues.
- The program should offer a high quality family week that specializes specifically in sex addiction. Some programs mix families with all types of addiction together, which can result in family members not receiving vital information and the help they need. If the program does mix families together, ask specifically what provisions are made to help those facing sex addiction.
- If there are multiple addictions present, two routes can be taken. Many programs have multi-addiction capability. For some, that is exactly what is necessary, but here again, it usually is a program of longer duration. Because of the severity of the types of addictions involved, seek a place that can help the addict sequentially. The treatment center should have the depth of program to focus on each addiction. For example, heroin and crack cocaine in addition to sex addiction can take longer to treat than thirty to forty-five days. Usually people fare better if treatment extends to four to six months. Another situation that requires longer treatment is when sex addiction has affected a professional role, such as a physician or attorney or clergy person. Expect that treatment will involve more in these cases. Eating disorders and sex addiction always take more time.
- Sometimes programs work closely with extended treatment providers who continue the process with a lot less cost. The cost reduction stems from less medical involvement, structure, and ancillary services. Ask about the program's access to extended care either on its campus or in a facility that works closely with the program.
- Programs that offer a holistic medical approach usually include multiple modalities, such as acupuncture, meditation, psychodrama, and massage. All these add significant dimension to the treatment experience.
- Treatment should have a twelve step basis. People who learn the steps and go to meetings do much better than those who do not.
- The treatment staff must have experience in working with trauma and your family of origin. You simply must work on the underlying issues of your sex addiction, or recovery will remain elusive.
- Evaluate how you are treated on the phone. Is the staff knowledgeable and willing to listen? Do they suggest local resources or additional help near where you live? This will tell you a lot about how knowledgeable and professionally connected the staff is.
- If you wish to review treatment centers, please call us at 800-708-1796. We will help you sort out your options.
Remember that not everyone needs to go to treatment. It is also true that everyone would benefit if they could afford the time and money to go. The key ideal profile of success is as follows:
- There is usually a therapist who works with the addict and family from three to five years.
- The addict must be in a therapy group with other sex addicts. The optimum time is approximately 175 hours, whether inpatient or outpatient.
- Attendance to a twelve-step program for sex addiction is a must. Those that do not go seldom do well over the long term.
- Family members must be involved in therapy and treatment.
- Success increases when they realize they have to be in therapy as well. Couples work is key for those in committed relationships.
Twelve step groups for sex addiction exist in most cities across the United States and Canada. Plus many offer resources online and kits to start a meeting if you do not have one locally. These fellowships all have different titles, which can be confusing at first. Is it better to go to SAA or SLAA or SCA or SA or SRA? The truth is, good recovery occurs in each fellowship. The real trick is to find a good meeting. Some meetings offer great support and some do not. Ask where the good meetings are. Your therapist will know this, as will fellow patients. Convention wisdom is that you should go to at least six meetings before searching for another group. If it is the only group in town, then it is up to you and the other group members to make it better. Here is the contact information for all the fellowships: