Most people think of addiction as dependency on a substance, like alcohol or drugs. We’ve tended to define narcotic addiction, for example, by the classic signs of craving and withdrawal when the substance is taken away.
Although that kind of addiction is very common, many people are plagued by something a little different. It has to do with what I call ‘a pathological attachment to a mood altering experience.’ Just like substance addiction, doing without sex or romance or a relationship leads to almost unbearable feelings of longing.
These feelings are echoed in nearly every popular song. “I once was half, and now I’m whole because you love me.” If you leave me I will die…” etc. etc. Our consumer society constantly urges us to look outside of ourselves for the peace that can only come from within. We learn early on that our worth is determined by our appearance, our performance, or our wealth. Seldom do we feel we are enough.
So we search for that mood altering experience and find it at the gaming table, or now increasingly online, escaping from genuine intimacy into the trance of stimulation that destroys our existing relationships and leaves us aching and empty.
Just as the journey through drug or alcohol addiction takes hard work and good support, so too recovery from sex or relationship addiction is not easy. But it is much easier when you have an specially trained, experienced therapist walking with you and coaching you along the way.