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The importance of the 12 Steps
In our Feature Story, the writer describes how he hit bottom with his addiction, and finally took up the courage to write to the renowned religious psychiatrist, Rabbi Avraham Twerski (the author of many books and a leader in dealing with alcoholic addictions). In his letter, he asked the renowned psychiatrist if there was anything he could do to break free. Here is what Rabbi Twerski answered:
"Your case is not unusual. I say this because I can tell you what works and what does not work. Sexual compulsions come in a variety of ways, but the common denominator is that the person has a compulsion which he finds it very difficult to resist. He tries all kinds of ways (like you did) but nothing works, including marriage. This kind of compulsion is essentially an addiction. The only thing that works, in my experience, is participation in a 12-step recovery program similar to that of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is called either Sexaholic Anonymous or Sex & Love Anonymous. They have meetings everywhere, including Israel. You should be able to locate a meeting via the internet.
There are many excuses for not attending meetings. What happens if someone sees me? The bottom line is, if a person wishes to be cured from cancer, he'll do anything. If one wishes to overcome a destructive sexual addiction, nothing should stand in the way. There are two important books to read. (1) Sex and Love Addiction (SLAA) Anonymous and (2) Cybersex Unhooked. Both are available at www.hazelden.org/bookplace. Get these books and you'll find out what it takes to free yourself of this problem. Psychotherapy is the frosting on the cake, but the 12 step program is the cake. When you attend SLAA meetings, you may be able to find the name of a competent therapist. Many psychiatrists and psychologists have not been trained in addiction.
The particular type of sexual compulsion does not make much difference. A beer drinker can be as alcoholic as a whiskey drinker. The core problem is the inability to restrain oneself from doing something that one knows he should not be doing but appears powerless to control it. A number of religious people have been able to do with the 12 step program what they were not able to do with mussar (religious ethical texts). Perhaps this is because of the group support. We may learn mussar together, but we don't practice it together, which is what happens in a 12 step meeting. Read the books. There is a book "12 steps and 12 traditions" which describes the 12 steps. It's worth reading. Although it was written about alcoholism, one just substitutes the particular compulsion in place of "alcohol."
Our writer continues....
"Rabbi Twerski's answer made me realize for the first time that I was dealing with a serious addiction. I bought the books he suggested and began to learn about conquering addictions. I began to study the 12 steps, and I took notes for myself to summarize what each of the steps suggests."
Today, this writer is free from his powerful addiction for nearly three years! Start studying the 12 steps, and you too can be on your way to recovery!