I will open the lock
to your Pandora’s box
once so hedonistic
now your anaesthetic
I used to take you high
today I mask the lie
in youth I’d make you fly
with age I’ll make you die
By Tom Charles
“Any behavior that is associated with craving and temporary relief, and with long-term negative consequences, that a person is not able to give up” – How Dr Gabor Maté defines addiction
If addiction is seeking the external search to fill the void within, then meditation is in stark contrast, suggesting an inward turn to know one’s true self. And that is why it helps with recovery from addictions.
Meditation is a safe, slow way to open up to the subtle energies. No sudden conversion or dramatic re-arrangement of lifestyle is required, just a place to sit for a few minutes. Unlike addictive behaviour, meditation involves being with what is, rather than seeking to escape it. It is no wonder that meditation contributes to addiction recovery, and is enshrined in Step 11 of the Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 Steps.
Once you stop being what you are not, you recover what you always were. You cannot recover what you never had…
Meditation is a technique that can allow the addict to come to know their true selves.
Meditation is widely viewed as attractive, but can be seen as esoteric, new age, for ‘them’ and not for me. Do an image search of the word ‘meditation’ and this is what you get, a fantasy:
It is a condition or syndrome with a proven neurological, psychological basis. It’s not just a pretext or for the philandering, the promiscuous and priapic. It is an addiction or compulsion to certain sexual behaviors that causes the sufferer to transgress their own values and ruins their lives. Of course, sexual desire is an evolutionary urge, a normal drive, perfectly healthy in most people. But for some, genetic predisposition, family trauma or attachment disorders and early exposure to sexual material has warped this desire, hijacking reward centres in the brain and causing the sexual drive to dysfunction. An allergy of the mind arises; sexual activities are craved but when indulged in they cause mental pain. This is sex addiction, and it is a ‘thing’ and it affects more people than you think. Perhaps it is because it is a process addiction or because of the shame and stigma surrounding it (see below) it still remains misunderstood by most.
In the book The Porn Trap the authors break down the physiology of sex addiction. They cover the dopamine secreted during the anticipation and the mind-blowing opioids of the orgasm and fulfillment. Gary Wilson in Your Brain on Porn, writes about how repeated exposure to pornography subjects the dopamine reward system to the same fatigue over time as cocaine abuse. Research going on at Cambridge University has shown that the pleasure centres stimulated in sex addiction are identical to those in pharmacological addiction. As Patrick Carnes writes we are looking at a self-peddled, self-secreted drug abuse, and a strong chemical dependency.
Due to neuronal plasticity, (neurons that ‘fire together, wire together’,) using porn and other thrill seeking sexual practices compulsively, eventually recalibrates the brain to such an extent that it cannot snap back and is chronically impaired. The brain then craves this fix. The results can be a skewed arousal template, (not finding ‘normal’ women or intimate sex exciting), diminished libido in the absence of sexual fetishes, or even erectile dysfunction as documented by Gary Wilson in his book. And that’s just the addiction not to speak of the experience of withdrawal.
Sex addiction was not invented by the publicists of Michael Sheen and Tiger Woods. It’s always been around. Many have a history of it in their families, secreted in rumours, half truths, concealed in euphemism, in understatement, and embarrassed whispers about being ‘a bit of a ladies’ man’ or having a racy love life, when we are talking about a man who died of venereal disease or died in a brothel in a drug addled stupor. Many writers, poets and artists have been sex addicts or have written about sex addiction – it just wasn’t called sex addiction. You can find sex addiction hiding in coy euphemism in the novels of Dostoyevsky, and in descriptions of gentlemen who dishonoured themselves in unspeakable ways. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is an allegory for the double life of an addict. Given its long lineage therefore why has it only now come onto our radar? Continue reading
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