|Yesterday I was asked to weigh in as the expert guest on the subject of sex addiction with Brian Copeland, host of ABC’s 7 Live, a news commentary show in San Francisco that feeds into The Oprah Show.
What prompted the interview were the recent allegations that Brett Favre had sent “sextexts” to a co-worker of the league with graphic pictures of his genitalia. Had she not been an employee, there would not have been grounds for sexual harassment. Other women ( massage therapists) have come forward as well. As this is the second sexual harassment case that The New York Jets are facing in recent times, it has escalated to a hot topic.
The question posed by Brian Copeland was this, ” Is this sex addiction?” Of course my answer was that there was not enough evidence to render an opinion so he explored with me what constitutes sex addiction and what is the treatment? At the bottom of this article is the link to the interview. It provided a great opportunity to talk about the brain imbalance part of addiction along with the traumas in childhood that can impact the nervous system and influence this trajectory of addictive behavior.
Einstein once said that we cannot solve problems at the level of which they were created. Thus, detoxing the brain is critical to the recovery process of all addictions.
Sex addiction is considered in the field of addiction recovery, a process addiction, along with gambling, social media, workaholism, love, and co-dependency. One of the biggest challenges in recovery with process addictions is that once identified by an individual, they often do not undertake a full detoxification at the body,mind, and spirit levels as one does with substance abuse.
So what would that look like? I recently spoke at a conference on addiction recovery on the subject of “The Biochemistry of Change.” I stressed the importance of detoxification with non-substance abuse addictions. When an individual is in the early phase of recovery from a process addiction, undertaking a physical detox under the supervision of an acupuncturist, holistic MD, or naturopathic doctor can be useful. There are also facilities that specialize in this where you do juice fasts,colon cleansing, and certain yogic practices that can cleanse the body, mind, and spirit. One actually begins to think differently without ‘the craving brain’.
Twenty years ago (as a result of a combination of a co-dependent marriage and workaholic pattern) I developed adrenal exhaustion and the Epstein Barr Virus. I spent three weeks cleansing my body that resulted in deep emotional detoxification and self inquiry around traumas suffered in my childhood in an addictive family system. My time at The Optimum Health Institute saved my life and began my path of exploring the connection between food, emotion, and addiction.
It also lead to my initiating a meditation practice that also supported healing brain trauma. Recently, it became evident to me that I needed to begin including community support for ongoing healing in my process addictions. What I recognized in myself was that revelation of my patterns and self analysis ( even with my clinical skills) was not enough. When people in my field would ask me if I was in recovery, my stock response was to say jokingly: “Yes, I’m a recovering, co-dependent Catholic.” I have now expanded my own path of recovery to include a reduction in caffeine and sugar, live green foods that calm the body, strength training, and cardio exercise to support the lymphatic system every day.
The one aspect of process addiction recovery I had never explored is the influence of environment. I always address it with my clients who are recovering from substance abuse issues but until moving to Marin, a place that feels like home for the first time in my life, I did not realize how toxic living in Los Angeles had become to my emotional and physical well being.
Addressing my own addiction issues in an environment that is healing has made it infinitely easier. I am spending a good deal of time outside of work alone and yet nature itself has provided me closer spiritual companionship with the divine. So, I can now see how important living and working in the right environment can be for one’s well being and recovery from any addiction.
I have also returned to a formal meditation practice to strengthen my ability to be the observer of my thoughts so that I can change them more easily. This was a discipline I had once practiced daily but had become lax around and thus, my own relapse into workaholism and co-dependency had re-occurred. In the past I had attended Alcoholic, Alanon, and Overeaters Anonymous meetings with my clients in a supportive, professional role.
I do believe that relapse and its recovery provides an amazing opportunity for self compassion, self love, and a rite of passage into a new chapter of one’s life. The path I took is only one option. There are residential treatment facilities that specialize in this: locally there is Alta Mira Recovery Programs in Sausalito and in the South there is Pine Grove Behavioral Health in Hattiesburg, Miss. and The Bridge to Recovery in Kentucky.
The focus for me personally and professionally is not on dwelling on mine or my client’s addiction. Through actively participating in body, mind, and spirit practices coupled with weekly meetings in a spiritual community that provide one on one counsel (such as a sponsor in anonymous meetings, psychotherapy, or coaching) can keep one’s self humble and honest and makes it possible to keep evolving into a more ‘ “Wholy Self “.
I invite you to join me in reflecting on where process addictions may be operative for you. I am also available to work deeply on these issues at the body, mind, and spirit level in person at my home office in Marin County, at your facility or business, or by phone and Skype at 310-890-6832.
Peace to you,
Dr. Toni Galardi is an organizational consultant, psychotherapist, media psychologist and the author of The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive (not just survive) in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval. She can be reached through her office at 310-712-2600 or her website, LifeQuake.net. The link below is the clip from the show she guested on for ABC recently on sex addiction.
ABC Interview with Dr. Galardi