Frequently Asked Questions
Q. WHAT IS SEX ADDICTION?
A. Sex addiction is obsessive/ compulsive sexual behavior, with self or others, which if left untreated will cause severe distress and despair for both the addict and his or her family.
A person is unable to control his or her sexual behavior and lives with constant pain, alienation and fear of discovery. The addiction progresses until sexual behavior becomes more important than family, friends or work. One feels trapped in a bondage of compulsive sexual behavior over which he or she has no power to control, change or stop.
Q. Since sex is a normal part of life, can it really become an addiction?
A. Sex is a normal expression of love and bonding between two stable partners who love and cherish each other. When used as it is designed, sex brings two people closer. It edifies and strengthens the bond. It is the result of working to have an emotional connection, an intimacy that is made of mental, emotional, spiritual, and social connectedness. It involves the heart, mind, and soul. It makes you want to be present with that person for more than just the sexual experience. It increases the desire to be with the person with whom you have the relationship, and to sacrifice for each other as you build your life and family together. It increases respect and brings a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment in the relationship.
Sexual addictions involve sexual behaviors, which a person cannot stop even in the face of negative consequences resulting from the behavior, including damage caused to relationships, career, spirituality, finances, legal status, and other aspects of life. It results in shame, low self-esteem, denial, blaming, anger, rationalizations, sexual anorexia, and spiritual and emotional numbing.
The field of addictions now includes what are called "process addictions," which means that a person can become addicted to food, work, high-risk activities, another person and even emotions. The LifeSTAR program's position is based upon the view that if you cannot control when you start or stop a behavior, and if the behavior causes serious problems for you or those close to you, then you may have become addicted. Sexual addiction and compulsive sexual behaviors represent maladaptive ways that people attempt to meet physical, emotional, and psychological needs for love, touch, relationships, and intimacy.
Q. How is the LifeSTAR program different from 12-step recovery groups, counseling, or other types of group therapy?
A. The LifeSTAR program is a phased program designed to take participants on a gentle and structured path through recovery. It shares many of the same features of 12-step programs, counseling, and group therapy; such as meeting in a group setting, completing workbooks, receiving education, and processing personal experiences. Think of LifeSTAR as a comprehensive recovery approach that includes all of the best features of these three approaches packaged in one program.
Each phase has a different emphasis: Phase 1 is designed to educate, create hope, and lay a strong foundation for future recovery work. Phase 2 is task oriented and helps individuals struggling with addiction begin deeper recover work. The emphasis is on completing specific tasks that build understanding and lasting change. Phase 3 is a process group where members take what they've accomplished in the previous two phases and integrate their learning for long-term recovery. The emphasis is on healing childhood trauma, family of origin issues, and the effects of addiction.
Q. How much will I have to disclose in the program?
A. Only as much as you feel comfortable disclosing. We believe that secrets are the lifeblood of addiction. Therefore working to disclose your secrets in a safe and confidential environment is an integral part of recovery. In Phase 1, you are not required to disclose any details about your addiction or your situation. If you want to share your story, there will be opportunities to share, but it is not required. In Phase 2, you will have a chance to tell your story in more detail and seek support from the other group members.
“The first week I attended LifeSTAR I knew it would be a program that would change my life, with or without my partner. Just knowing I was not alone in how I felt and that other partners were going through the same things as me was amazing. I cannot imagine trying to do this without LifeSTAR’s program and support! I highly recommend that all partners participate in their addict’s recovery and come to the program with them. It is life changing.”
— Partner in Recovery
Q. Do I really need to be in a group to overcome pornography or other sexually compulsive behaviors?
A. This is a common question, as many individuals who struggle with addiction would prefer to do their recovery work privately. We find that individuals who participate in the group process make changes more quickly and have longer lasting results.
Group work is unique because it challenges many of the core beliefs that plague individuals struggling with addiction. For example, many individuals who struggle with sexual addiction believe that if people really knew their secret, they would reject them. Attending a group disproves this belief, as group members actually deepen their connection to each other the longer they attend the group.
Eliminating unhealthy core beliefs, such as the one mentioned, is the main goal to overcoming a pornography/sexual addiction. Group work is a tried and proven method for helping individuals to accomplish this goal. Although it is initially awkward and uncomfortable to enter a group setting, virtually all participants report feeling grateful for the experience.
All LifeSTAR groups are closed, meaning that new individuals are not added without the consent of the members. This ensures safety and predictability in the process.
Q. Do insurance companies cover this program?
A. We are an out of network provider for most insurance companies. If we are not paneled with your insurance company and are out of network, you will be required to pay for the LifeSTAR program out of pocket, but we are happy to provide a superbill for you to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.
Q. Why are there separate programs for the addicts & partners? I thought this was a couples’ program.
A. Sometimes it’s explained this way:
The addict has probably been dealing with this issue for a very long time (kind of like having cancer). There’s usually a disclosure of some kind, and the partner finds out about it. For the partner, this usually feels like being hit by a truck.
So, whether you’ve been hit by a truck or you have cancer, you still have to go to the hospital! While you’re at the hospital, each has to be treated for the ailment they have, which will likely look different. Cancer treatment is different than reconstructive surgery.
Thus, the addiction program treats addicts for long-term, deep-seated addiction, while the partners program treats partners for relational and betrayal trauma, which many times results in the presence of PTSD. Both are given recovery strategies to heal from their respective emotional wounding.