Am I an addict?

Denial and faulty core beliefs

Last month we began a new blog series looking at how faulty core beliefs can sabotage recovery and, in some instances, can stop you getting into recovery all together. Today we’re going to look at the biggest block to change and that’s the faulty belief that ‘I don’t need to change’.

Can you be addicted to porn? 

I don’t need to change’ can sometimes be explained by an understandable lack of knowledge and information about whether or not sex addiction and porn addiction is a real thing. Is sex addiction real? Can you be addicted to porn?  How do you know if you’re a sex addict? Or a porn addict?  All these are very common and understandable questions. We still live in a world with lots of controversy – one where many health professionals can’t even agree. But professionals do agree that people that a growing number of people struggle with compulsive sexual behaviours and problematic pornography use. They don’t yet agree if the accurate terminology is addiction or compulsion, but they do agree that it’s a problem. 

Am I a sex addict?

So this leaves many people wondering if they are an addict, or struggle with CSBD (Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder) and they may believe there’s no way of finding out.  But that is no longer the case.

If you want to find out for yourself, then why not complete our ‘Am I an Addict’ questionnaire. We use the CSBD-19 screening tool which is one of the only validated tests available in the world.  Try it for yourself and if you score over 50 you can make an appointment to talk through what that might mean for you. 

But it’s not that bad?

So maybe you know that your behaviour is a problem, but you’re saying, ‘I don’t need to change’. When someone with an addiction says ‘I don’t need to change’ we call it denial and denial is by far the biggest cognitive block to recovery. Denial is often confused with deceit, but deceit means lying to others, whereas denial is when we lie to ourselves. Denial is when we don’t see the problem, as a problem, or at least, not much of a problem. Not as big a problem as other people seem to see it. When we’re in denial, what we’re really denying are the consequences, or the extent of the consequences. It’s just not ‘that bad’.  Not ‘bad enough’ to change. 

But what could be at the root of this? Often this is a scenario where core beliefs are misplaced, such as ‘hard work deserves a reward’ or ‘I’m entitled to a private life’. Or it may be a skewed belief because you’re not seeing the bigger picture e.g., ‘I’m a careful person so I won’t get caught’ or ‘I’m responsible for meeting my needs’. A very common core belief I hear with denial is ‘I’m different’ which leads to an assumption that ‘the usual rules don’t apply to me’.  

Reasons to stop porn addiction

What’s more common than complete denial, particularly with people doing this course, is thinking ‘I do need to change, but only because’…[fill in the blank]. Maybe ‘because my partner will leave me if I don’t’ – ‘Because I can’t financially afford my addiction’ – ‘Because I’m going to lose my job if I get caught’.  There are many things you could fill in the blank with, but the common denominator is that the primary reason for needing to change is linked to a specific, actual, or potential consequence of continuing. So it’s not 100% denial, but there are some aspects of denial. If you ‘only need to change because’… then you’re almost certainly lying to yourself about the full cost. The full cost of the consequences. The impact of your behaviours on yourself. On others. On your present life. On your future hopes and dreams.

Some of the most common faulty core beliefs that underpin denial, whether that’s total, or partial are linked to risk. A belief that you’re good at calculating risks. Or that you don’t need to calculate risks. Or that you’re somehow always lucky and can outwit risk. Or it may be that you tell yourself that risk is fun, that risk is exciting. Without risk, you’d be boring. Being a risk-taker has become part of your identity. Or conversely you may tell yourself that you don’t take risks and you don’t like risk – but that has led you to be someone who ignores risk. Either way, continuing to act out without looking fully at the potential cost is very risky indeed and trust me, I know, the consequences can be devastating.

If this is sounding familiar then why not book just one session with a therapist to look properly at the actual, and potential consequences of your behaviour.  In many respects, identifying potential consequences in the future is more important than the ones in the past. We can’t change the past. It’s too late. But you can avoid future consequences.  If you think it’s odd that to base the decision to change on a ‘what if’, rather than an actual then remember that we do that all the time. That’s how we work out whether or not doing something is worth it – we calculate the risk. Just because I’ve never hurt myself driving with my eyes closed, that doesn’t make it safe to do!  Book a session and talk it through. Maybe there are more reasons to change than you think?

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