Presenter: Neal Howard
Guests: Gary and Sharon Worrell
Guest Bio: Sharon and Gary Worrell have co-authored “SEXUAL ADDICTION: One Couple’s Journey to Discover the Strategies for Healing.” Gary has a master’s degree in community counseling. Sharon is board certified in biblical counseling, with an emphasis on sexual healing. In their private practice they use a “divide and conquer” method of counseling, with Gary counseling men and Sharon women. Sharon is president of a non-profit organization, Strategies for Healing Hearts and their website is www.StrategiesForHealing.com
Segment Overview: Gary and Sharon Worrell discuss how behavioral addictions differ from substance abuse or alcohol addiction.
Health Professional Radio
Neal: Hello, you’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us today. Our guests in studio today is husband and wife team, Sharon and Gary Worrell. They’re the co-authors of the book “Sexual Addiction: One Couple’s Journey to Discover the Strategies for Healing.” Now, Gary has a master’s in Community Counseling and his wife Sharon is board certified in Biblical Counseling focusing on sexual healing. They have a private practice and they use the divide and conquer method of counseling. Sharon is the president of the non-profit organization Strategies for Healing Hearts. You can visit them and get more information at www.strategiesforhealing.com. How are you doing today Sharon and Gary?
Gary: Thank you very much. We’re doing well.
Sharon: We’re doing great. Thanks.
N: In discussing sexual addiction, there is not a lot of talk in main stream media about sexual addiction. We hear how heroin has once again come on the scene. We hear a lot about crack and cocaine and a lot in some of the Midwestern states about Oxycontin and other opiates that are being abused even if they’re being prescribed by physicians. And there’s also the internet and other pornography around the world. When you hear the word ‘addiction,’ certain things come to mind – poor hygiene, lack of work skills, lack of motivation. Are the same behaviors that one would associate with chemical addiction associated with sexual addiction as well?
G: Very much so. See, any addiction is basically based on we are medicating something that is going on within us. It could have been something from the past, something from the present or even the fear of the future. We’re medicating due to the inability of how to do it. Okay, I started when I was 8 years old medicating the trouble, the turmoil within my family structure by looking at porn and drinking.
G: And it gave me a way to control what was going on. Well that’s very similar to drugs or alcohol or sex or eating or anything else really.
N: Gambling. Yes, we hear of gambling addiction especially in states where they have casinos where gambling maybe legal or they’re playing the lottery. We hear a lot about how many people who can afford to play the lottery are throwing money at the lottery left and right.
S: Uh huh
N: But I’m curious, when it comes to sexual addiction, why can’t you just stop? Is there withdrawal from sexual addiction once a person goes on a path of recovery from a sexual addiction?
S: Well, there is to a certain extent. Withdrawal in that, often times, an addict will flip into another addiction because he’s in the beginning of recovery. Because he’s medicating pain, that’s going to need time and if he’s getting in touch with that pain at all, then he’s probably flipping into another addiction. He maybe flipping into gambling or he may be flipping into spending. Financial chaos is a very big piece of the puzzle that comes along with sexual addiction. And either from the extreme or the control side where somebody won’t let you spend a dime. And there’s a type that they squeak or they’re just out getting and spending and buying everything in sight as a medication.
N: Now, are you saying that the financial instability due to a sexual addiction – is it because you’re spending money at strips club or spending money on prostitutes or spending money and credit cards on the internet? There’s a lot of free stuff on the internet. I mean, we see it in our emails on a daily basis that’s why we have spam filters. How is it that money can be wasted on a sexual addiction unless you’re spending it on prostitutes or strippers?
G: Well, it doesn’t have to necessarily be on prostitutes or strippers. Let’s say, why a person is in his sexual addiction? Realize that it’s also creating an adrenaline high. And that adrenaline high can be gained by the pursuit of another person or another opportunity or could be some other thing that maybe you are getting into other avenues. I’m not saying it could be not only pornography. Okay, I have not been involved in pornography in almost 15 years…
N: Uh huh
G: So I can’t really speak at how it’s changed over the last 15 years. But I do know what happens is that you progress from the free sites to the paid sites.
S: Because it’s a progressive thing.
S: It’s that thing where there’s more risk involved there. Like what Gary said, there’s that adrenaline high that comes from it. “Okay, I’ve become invisible so I’m going to invest in this because I’m gonna get this kind of return.” And the financial chaos – you know, when Gary was involved in his sexual addiction, he actually took $25,000 out on a charge card and made an investment with a promise that by the end of the month in 30 days, he was gonna make a $5,000 return on his $25,000.
S: Well, that never happened. That was in the first year of our recovery and that’s what I’m talking about when you’re going thru recovery, you may flip into another addiction because the pain is kind of hard.
N: You both when into recovery, right?
S: We did.
N: Okay. Gary as the addict, I’m assuming, and you as the affected partner?
N: Okay now.
G: And that’s really important, that both people recognize the issue.
N: Okay. Now, I’ve seen alcohol withdrawal. I have seen opioid withdrawal. Why can’t a person just stop looking at pornography? I mean, they say that it takes 30 days to change a habit. Just stop looking at pornography for a month and go on about their lives.
S: Well, because it’s usually not just about pornography. It’s about becoming sober from your behaviors, whatever acting out behavior you’re in. Neal, you have to remember that it has rewired a part of the brain.
S: So, it’s a behavioral kind of thing where sex is something that is a very big part of it. It’s kind of like food, you’re not goanna give up food just because you’re an over eater. You’re going to have to deal with things in such a way that you’re going to be able to bring balance to everything. And so, they usually say that sexual addiction is about a 3 to a 5 year process of walking out of it. You can get sober from your behaviors but the struggle and everything, you are going to deal with what’s going on the inside of you and you’re gonna have to have an incredible amount of accountability to be able to do it.
N: Okay. As we wrap up this segment, I’d like to talk about your book “Sexual Addiction: One Couple’s Journey to Discover the Strategies for Healing.” Is this something that you wrote during recovery or did you go thru recovery and then decide that you were going to write this book?
S: We did go through recovery. We probably went to about three years of recovery and then we really felt leading to write our story. And so for the next two years it was kind a like a part of our recovery in some ways because our book is a “he said, she said” book. Gary talks about sexual addiction from the addict’s perspective and I talk about sexual addiction from the partner’s perspective.
S: And every chapter has a different category of what you have to look at to really be able to address what’s going on in your marriage.
S: And the statistics, Neal, are that 2% of marriages struggling with sexual addiction come through to a restored marriage.
N: Uh huh
S: Two percent isn’t a very big number and it definitely takes something and it definitely takes commitment to doing the work.
N: Great. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking with Sharon and Gary Worrell today, authors of “Sexual Addiction: One Couple’s Journey to Discover the Strategies for Healing.” Gary with a master in Community Counseling and Sharon certified in Biblical Counseling, have a private practice. They counsel people who are dealing with sexual addiction. Sharon is the president of a non-profit organization called Strategies for Healing Hearts. They also have a website www.strategiesforhealing.com. Their book is available on Amazon and also at their website as well. It’s been great having you here with us today, Sharon and Gary.
G: Thank you very much.
S: Thank you Neal.
N: Audio and transcript of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.