Sex Addiction Recovery: Five Years to Success
How long does it take to recover from a sexual addiction? Patrick Carnes, the foremost expert on sex addiction, believes it requires upwards of five years. The work he has done with sex addicts has changed the landscape of defining, working with, and helping people ultimately overcome destructive sexually addictive behaviors. His book Don’t Call it Love: Recovery from Sexual Addiction in 1991 brought the topic of sex addiction to the public and helped reconstruct how therapists perceive the issue, grasp the pitfalls and setbacks of recovery of a non-substance based addiction, and define techniques to address the issues. This paper explores the tenets of his sexual addiction recovery model and contrasts them to more recent journal articles whose studies were focused on aspects of sexual addiction.
Carnes (1991) has worked with more than 1,000 sex addicts to come to the conclusion that recovery from sexual addiction takes as much as five years. That is a difficult concept to grasp for many people today, as the messages that bombard all of society contradict such a long term view to most undertakings. It is perhaps one of the main reasons so many people struggle endlessly and can’t find recovery. In my personal experience over the last four years with Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) 12-Step groups, I can personally attest to seeing more than a third of all membership lasting less than six months.
Carnes (1991) identifies eleven distinct sexually addictive behavior patterns. By looking at these behavior types, one is able to better understand both sexual addiction and healthy sexuality. “Sex addiction becomes a clarifying prism, revealing the spectrum of healthy elements in our sexual lives” (Carnes, 1991, p. 42). Considering these addictive behavior types, Carnes theorizes all sexual addiction share common themes of exploitation, dissatisfaction, shame, fear, objectification, and a lack of mutual consent (p. 68)....