Internet to Sex: Defining Addiction
Addiction is used to describe everything from the Internet to shopping to sex. So how do you tell when something really becomes an addiction?
Treatment facilities abound for addictions, but not all of them
deal with all kinds of compulsive behavior. There are places, though, that
specialize in only one type of habit, like sex or Internet addiction.
The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery treats all kinds
of abuse as officials there believe that individuals susceptible to one
addiction are vulnerable to other compulsions. Patients there learn that
freedom from all abusive behavior requires a lifelong commitment, including
attendance of individual or group therapy, or 12-step groups.
In his practice, Greenfield also uses the philosophy that all
addictions probably have the same neurochemical issue at hand, and recovery not
only involves breaking the pattern of abuse, but also maintaining consciousness
of behavior for life.
"It's very easy in a moment of weakness to resort back to a
previous pattern that is well established," he says, likening the pathways
of addiction to a riverbed. "When it rains, it always goes back to that
original riverbed. It's a well-rehearsed path."
The bottom line, though, is that recovery is possible. The
Illinois Institute reports that up to 80% of patients remain free of addictions
at least six months after their primary treatment.
Greenfield says he's treated dozens of Internet addicts who
have been able to achieve reasonable patterns of Web use.
As for Rachel, after realizing she had a problem, she began
going to intense individual and group therapy and attending meetings with the
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics
Now, a dozen years later, she reports having better
relationships with her family and friends and having enough energy to have
completed a PhD in education. She is also looking forward to her next love
connection after being able to have two healthy relationships since her
The road to recovery hasn't been easy, but now that she feels
stronger, Rachel says she believes her future is bright. "My worst day
sober is still better than my best day acting out," she says.