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Sex, Love, and Addiction
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Sex, Love, and Addiction

Author: Robert Weiss, PhD, MSW

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Welcome to Sex, Love, and Addiction. This podcast is a forum where you can learn about sex, love, and relationship addictions in frank, informative, recovery-focused ways. Our primary goal is to bring you advice, opinions, and feedback from experts around the world on sexual addiction, sexual trauma, relationship infidelity, and love addiction.

Your host, Robert Weiss, PhD, MSW, is a licensed therapist and sexologist, and the author of numerous books, including Sex Addiction 101, Out of the Doghouse, Cruise Control, and Always Turned On. He has spent more than 25 years treating, educating, and writing about intimacy and sexual disorders.
68 Episodes
Michelle Mays is the Founder and Clinical Director of the Center for Relational Recovery with offices both in Leesburg, VA, and Washington, DC., where she and her team deliver treatment to addicts and betrayed partners. Today’s topic covers how couples can overcome betrayal after infidelity and why it’s perfectly normal to have an attachment ambivalence pattern towards the person who has hurt you. Michelle dives in on some of the challenges couples face as they build the trust back up again and underlines why the hurt partner needs a support group to help them through this chaotic time in their life.    TAKEAWAYS: [3:35] If a partner cheats on you, how do you define love after that?  [8:00] Dealing with cheating is difficult because it presents itself as a unique type of trauma. You begin to experience an ‘I love you today’ and ‘I hate you tomorrow’ attitude.  [9:35] Our brains give us two contradicting messages at the same time. One is to repair the damage so you can find safety again in your partner and the other is to run away.  [16:55] Things might seem like everything is back on track in therapy, but it takes time for the hurt partner to not be reminded by the pain. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.  [19:15] Love becomes a big question mark after infidelity. It is not a given.  [20:25] If you’re going to cheat, tell your partner first. Do it in real-time, not after the fact.  [23:20] Michelle explains the benefits of getting the betrayed partner into a support group.  [29:20] The partner recovering from betrayal is left with a massive hole for which they can get their support. You need a safe base in this chaotic time in your life.    RESOURCES:  The Porn Panic: Is Porn a ‘Public Health Crisis’? Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Seeking Integrity Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency Partner Hope  Center for Relational Recovery Dr. Barbara Steffens   QUOTES: “The person you usually turn to for safety is now the person that has hurt you.” “People who have been cheated on experience attachment ambivalence. The word ambivalence means to feel two opposing things at exactly the same time.” “It starts to feel like when I’m in a safe space, I get hurt. Betrayal really takes the safety out of that.” “Cheat all you want, but ask your partner first. It’s the lying, it’s the disconnection in the relationship. This will kill a relationship.”
Rob wanted to take some time to express some of the challenges he is facing in communicating the importance of his work on this week’s episode. Rob recently attended a conference in Australia that was a bit frustrating to experience. Facts matter in the therapy world and it seems that people prefer to listen to the loudest of voices instead of the experts who have dedicated their lives and education to addiction and therapy. Everyone wants you to take a side or to think in absolutes, but therapists don’t take sides. Therapists guide you in choosing what’s right for you.     TAKEAWAYS: [2:05] We don’t really have all the research about porn addiction yet.  [3:50] Porn can be bad for some people, but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad for everyone.  [4:35] When Rob spoke at a conference in Australia about his neutral beliefs about porn and porn addiction, people were disappointed. When attending scientific conferences, it’s important to present facts; not opinions.  [5:55] Unfortunately, people who are anti-porn hold very strong beliefs about it, but they might not necessarily have the clinical knowledge on how addiction really works. A lot of speakers were not citing statistics or facts in their talks.   [7:45] It’s a catch 22. Anti-porn people do not want to talk about the positives of porn and sexual health professionals don’t want to talk about the negatives of porn and sex addiction. What you need is a balance and you can’t have that if you are very biased towards one belief or the other.   [8:15] Rob makes the connection about how people feel about porn addiction to how people felt about prohibition back in the day. It was deeply rooted in moral, religious beliefs, with conservative overtones.  [9:15] Fear sells. All you have to do is pick a side and think in absolutes, and you will be very popular. Rob doesn’t believe this is the best approach.  [12:55] Rob and some of his fellow colleagues, who hold PhDs on the subject, were turned down to speak because event organizers preferred the speaker who had more media contacts, who were ‘marketable’, or even paid more for a booth. It’s a sad state when fame is preferred over expert knowledge at scientific conferences!   [17:20] How can you do mental health treatment without asking about human sexuality? It sets Rob’s hair on fire when there is such a big disconnect in this area.  [22:05] When you use the word ‘addiction’, you are not shaming yourself. You are embracing your vulnerabilities. You have limits and you learned what they are. That’s a good thing.  [24:55] You can never debate facts to people who have very strong emotional beliefs or opinions. You will always lose.  [26:15] Rob doesn’t understand why the sexual world is so split on certain issues when we all use the same methods and techniques to treat patients. Life would be so much better if we can just come together and work together.    RESOURCES:  The Porn Panic: Is Porn a ‘Public Health Crisis’? Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Seeking Integrity Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency Dr. Gail Dines Dr. David Ley Prohibition: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick   QUOTES: “I don’t really decide for you or for anyone else whether porn is good or porn is bad because I think I would be a bad therapist.” “Believe me, fear sells. I can show you a thousand images from online porn that would make you tell me porn is horrible.” “When we’re talking about our pleasures and our human desires, I think it’s always a bad idea to be in black and white.” “That’s an anti-expert experience. When the person who shouts the loudest on Twitter or online or on TV gets the most attention, it doesn’t mean they have the most knowledge.”
You wrote in, and Rob and Tami want to answer! Rob’s compadre and sidekick, the great Tami VerHelst, returns to the show for another Q&A episode. Just a few of the questions/answers include: dealing with a jealous spouse, what to do when you can’t stop thinking about an old relationship, and understanding emotional immaturity.
You wrote in, and Rob and Tami want to answer! Rob’s compadre and sidekick, the great Tami VerHelst, returns to the show for a Q&A episode. Just a few of the questions/answers include: worrying about partner relapse, how to control objectifying others, and attending meetings vs. doing the work.
Dr. Jennifer Schneider, M.D., PhD, is a nationally recognized author and expert in both the management of chronic pain with opioids and in addictive sexual disorders. She returns to the show to talk about the important topic of the difference between addiction and physical dependence, and what each experience looks like in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Schneider also talks about what physical dependence is, the signs of addiction, and why the two continue to get confused. Dr. Schneider and Rob also discuss how we can manage situations as consumers truly looking for effective pain management, and provide resources where people can learn more and reach out for further help.     TAKEAWAYS: [4:53] Dr. Schneider defines physical dependence as the drug-producing a change in your body as a response to no longer taking the drug.  [6:48] When you stop taking a drug suddenly, you will not only experience withdrawal symptoms resulting from your physical dependence, but you will likely also resume the symptoms responsible for taking the medication in the first place.  [8:20] Opioids have two different effects. One is that they cause physical dependence, or your body’s response of adapting to them. The other is they cause addiction.  [9:55] There is a misunderstanding when using the term “chemically dependent” and referring only to an addict. Physical dependency happens to everyone that is on an opioid after a few days, and the body adjusts to the prescribed dosage.  [13:42] Dr. Schneider categorizes addiction into these following descriptions:  The loss of control and inability to stop, or to use the medication as prescribed.  Continuation to use despite significant and adverse consequences.  Preoccupation with use of the drugs.  [19:48] Although it is harder than ever to get a prescription for opioids to manage pain, the drug-related overdose deaths are at an all-time high. This is for many reasons, one being that now people are starting to get their drugs on the street, leading to them taking drugs that could be mixed with dangerous and even lethal substances.  [22:14] There have also been some findings that opioids may treat depression and anxiety, and people may find themselves feeling better not only because their pain is treated, but their mood may be better than ever.  [26:10] Tolerance is still a concept that there is much misunderstanding about. With opioids, some side effects people develop a tolerance to, and some people continue to have the same effects. Dr. Schneider shares a personal story on how pain isn’t the same due to the disease progression, not the opioids.    RESOURCES:  Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency  Back from Betrayal  Closer Together Further Apart Always Turned On  Jennifer Schneider  The 5 Most Misunderstood Terms in Pain Medicine QUOTES: “There’s been confusion about the word ‘dependent’.”  “We need to avoid the word ‘dependent’ because it’s good to rely on a medication that can save your life.”  “Addiction is about behavior.”  “There are people who are in genuine pain and now the response is ‘You are just going to have to deal with it’.” 
Dr. Sonnee Weedn, Ph.D., is a clinical and forensic psychologist in private practice in Novato, CA with a newly added satellite office in her hometown of Newport Beach, CA. She is also the author of Many Blessings and a contributor to Making Advances. Dr. Weedn joins the show to talk about the 8 Ways to Wellbeing For Recovering People Workbook, and how her work with Dr. Walsh led her to pull together these foundational habits that create profound results for those in healing and recovery. Dr. Weedn names the 8 ways to wellbeing, and actionable ways we can get started in moving ahead with each one.    TAKEAWAYS: [5:20] Dr. Weedn was asked to present at the Tibetan Medical Conference, and she thought long and hard about how to best inform an International audience made up of many types of culture. She was previously introduced to the work of Dr. Roger Walsh, a professor at UC Irvine Medical School, and realized how his evidence-based research could very much work for those in recovery.  [6:23] Lifestyle habits are foundational to support both our physical and mental health.  [10:03] These healthy lifestyle habits are cross-culturally relevant, and anyone can do them at little cost. It’s also important for people to note that they won’t see drastic change all at once. The point is not to get overwhelmed, it’s to make little changes here and there that will bring their emotional life into as much balance as possible.  [13:55] The 8 Ways to Wellbeing:  Nutrition. Having good, nutritious and pure food is important. Read food labels and feed yourself well. Good nutrition is so important for recovery from any malady, physical or mental.  Exercise. Exercise keeps the brain healthy and the blood pumping. We are meant to move every day, and even just a brisk walk is a great start.  Relaxation. Dr. Weedn refers to it as rest without sleeping, and something that takes us away from the hustle and bustle and creates a sense of peace and mindfulness.  Recreation. This aspect is important, especially for people with addiction.  Relationship. May be the most important in terms of mental health. The more positive interactions we have, the better off we will be mentally. Good relationship skills can be learned over time.  Time in nature. Nature is healing. Get outdoors every day.  Giving back. A spirit of altruism reminds us that there is life beyond us.  Spiritual Practice that is definable. Whether it’s religious or you make up your own, it needs to emphasize love, acceptance, generosity and meaning.    [31:48] It’s all about accountability, and holding the space for yourself and others to do the work. In the workbook, there are sections where you can name who will hold you accountable.    RESOURCES:  Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency Dr. Sonnee Weedn  Eight Ways to Wellbeing Angeles Arrien  8 Ways to Wellbeing YouTube Dr. Roger Walsh  Tibetan Medical Conference    QUOTES: “Our daily healthy habits support our mental and physical health.”  “We have to feed people well in order to help them heal.”  “This is the work of a lifetime, and it doesn’t happen in 30 days of treatment.”  “Nature is always changing, and it’s a good place for us to be when we are in change.” 
Dr. Jennifer Schneider, M.D., PhD, is a nationally recognized expert in addictive sexual disorders and in the management of chronic pain with opioids, an area that certainly needs more exposure. She joins the show to talk about what happens when a betrayed partner feels as though they want to end the relationship and a few real-life examples of why someone may want to leave for good. She gives her own personal experience with the subject and discusses the personal growth that needs to occur in order for someone to walk away. She and Rob also discuss the books they have written together, the importance of support groups, and resources for betrayed partners experiencing trauma.    TAKEAWAYS: [1:57] Dr. Schneider is the author of 15 books and numerous articles in professional journals. She and Rob also have written two together, including Closer Together, Further Apart and Always Turned On. [4:00] Dr. Schneider was a betrayed partner herself and discusses the self confidence and awareness she developed to get clarity and realize she was ready to leave the situation.  [5:26] Betrayed partners need support, and they have to be okay with the independence and inner work that comes with leaving a situation that no longer serves them.  [13:15] The partner that acted out may have a totally different story after recovery than while they are in a mode of lying and cheating. It is possible that partners will find out later that there are even more lies than they thought, and they have to decide whether they want to stick around to make that distinction or not.  [15:48] Dr. Schneider found that things shifted for her own personal relationship once she was able to understand the patterns and behavior of her then husband. She took a first step by going to Al-Anon, and began to get the skills and self esteem to build up her own self confidence.  [18:10] There is power in support from others. Dr. Schneider has found it very beneficial to attend support groups and found the benefits one of the biggest gifts in healing. [21:55] Betrayed partners are going through a major trauma, but Dr. Schneider doesn’t see them as solely a victim.  [24:02] By healing our own wounds we become less needy and vulnerable, and are able to make better decisions intellectually about love.    RESOURCES:  Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency Back from Betrayal  Sex, Lies, and Forgiveness Closer Together, Further Apart Always Turned On Al-Anon Jennifer Schneider    QUOTES: “The answer comes from who you are, and what you want from life and yourself.”  “As long as it’s too fearful to end the relationship, you will stay and make excuses.”  “All of our needs come up when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.” 
Dina Haddad is a family law mediator and principal of Families First Mediation. She joins the show this week to talk with Rob about the options couples have when being together isn’t the best option, and how she helps her clients navigate the often painful and rocky road of not being together. Dina talks about what it is they do in meditation, the difference between mediation and litigation, and why it’s important for couples to try and work together on coming to an agreement that works in the best interest of everyone.    TAKEAWAYS: [3:45] Reconciliation can work for some couples, but it is not always the best answer. Dina works with clients who feel they are better off parting ways, and explains the different choices they face when getting divorced.  [5:02] Litigation uses the court system to complete divorce. Through attorney representation, litigation can be very cut and dry and much of the time is used on rule abiding and procedural matters. Mediation puts the parties in control while still getting guidance and support on the laws through experts like Dina. Mediation is also far less expensive than traditional choices such as litigation.  [11:10] The process of divorce can be extremely emotionally challenging for all parties, especially betrayed partners who are experiencing much hurt and anger. If it’s appropriate for the situation, Dina can recommend a therapist for her clients to work with throughout the process.  [13:13] Working with a professional also provides structure, confidentially, and an objective third party.  [17:28] Dina has created a DIY program for divorce in California called The Complete Divorce. This takes couples from beginning to end in the process and explains all the forms with step by step tutorials. There are also resources provided if they do want to talk with a professional for even further support.  [23:08] When there is hurt and pain involved, couples will want to punish their partner, come up with scare tactics, or even just make things “fair”. The law doesn’t always cater to this, and this is why it’s important for couples to take a step back and come up with a manageable and efficient parenting plan for all involved.  [28:12] Parenting schedules can be different for every family, and can suit whatever is best for the children and the parents.    RESOURCES:  Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency Families First Mediation San Jose Counseling    QUOTES: “The scariest part of divorce is being confronted in a very difficult time in your life with a very difficult legal process.” “Healing your relationship doesn’t always mean staying together.” “Everybody has a different sense of fairness, it just depends on what side you are sitting at.”
Dr. Todd Love is a board-certified coach, licensed professional counselor and licensed attorney with a unique and broad background. He joins the show to talk with Rob about his own clinical practice in Athens, GA and exactly what ADHD is, how we diagnose it, and why it so strongly affects both the healing of addictions and relationship issues. Dr. Love shares his own personal experience with ADHD, what he has seen change in the field of diagnosis and treatment for ADHD throughout the years, the symptoms and signs, and what recovery may look like. Dr. Love and Rob also discuss how it shows up in childhood, relationships, and addiction, as well as resources where someone could get an evaluation.    TAKEAWAYS: [2:54] Historically, people thought of ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) as something that affected only children, and more specifically, young males. It is now a more or less equal issue and shows up in more places than just the early childhood classroom.  [4:38] ADHD is a whole other different type of issue than mania.  [5:27] If you run into a therapist who has worked with that issue for a while and have safety and understanding, work with this person as they are likely to have empathy and compassion towards that subject.  [6:08] Up to 20-40% of “intensity seekers” have an existing ADHD problem that is contributing to or the cause of an addiction. Intensity seekers can be thrill seeking or novelty seeking that leads to problem behavior patterns such as gambling, sex addiction and overspending. [8:41] In order to get the ADHD diagnosis, the addiction would need to be quelled. A lot of treatment centers don’t screen for ADHD and instead look for disorders, and they may even have people stop their medications, which makes the problem worse.  [13:41] It can be a very emotional shift for an adult who gets diagnosed and treated after years of struggling with symptoms and consequences from problematic behaviors due to their ADHD.  [19:40] The partner of someone with ADHD needs to have compassion and understanding on this issue, otherwise it may cause a lot of frustration, miscommunication, and resentment. Dr. Love makes himself vulnerable and discloses that he does have ADHD, so others know he isn’t being rude or dismissive if he is moving around or distracted while talking.  [26:43] Official diagnosis come from doctors or neuropsychological testing, since school systems require formal diagnosing. This information can then be brought to a therapist or psychiatrist.    RESOURCES:  Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) among longer-term prison inmates is a prevalent, persistent and disabling disorder The Couples Guide to Thriving With ADHD  CHADD QUOTES: “Don’t be afraid of those who have worked through their own issues and are now working with you.”  “You make yourself intimate to people by telling them things you would rather hide.”  “In order to make it intimate, and for us to be real with each other, I have to tell you my truth.”  “If you live with someone with ADHD, it requires a consistent compromise to make it work.” 
Carol Juergensen Sheets, Coach, Columnist, Therapist and Speaker joins the show today to talk about her best selling workbook and roadmap, Help. Her. Heal, written to help both betrayed partners and addicts overcome the trauma associated with infidelity. She and Rob talk about her focus on empathy towards the betrayed partner, and resources within the workbook where couples can start rebuilding trust and intimacy. Carol is always one step ahead in the field, and spreads her message to thousands using her coaching, videos, books, and podcasts.    TAKEAWAYS: [2:28] Many times sex addicts struggle with truly feeling empathatic towards the partner they betrayed. Carol’s techniques and formulas help the addict learn to acknowledge pain, validate the partner’s feelings, and reassure that things in the future will be different. When we work from the premise that the sex addict is the one responsible for the pain, we can start to rebuild (or build) empathy, and it is a cyclical dance of healing for both.  [5:32] Carol describes her formula for empathy and building trust:  Acknowledge the issue and the source of pain (take responsibility).  Validate the feelings of their partner instead of dismissing or minimizing them. Learn to identify what they see on their partner such as anger, sadness, loneliness, fear or happiness.  Identify the plan in forward-thinking and be ready to be a safe container for all their fears and feelings throughout the process.  [11:34] After a betrayal, it may not always get back to normal right away or even ever at all. It is important that both parties stick through the process and continue to do their best to be honest and vulnerable.  [11:51] Carol explains that out of every trauma that anyone can go through, partner betrayal ranks very high towards the top. A trauma bond occurs and if not worked through, the partner will most likely not be able to trust again.  [13:02] Healing isn’t an overnight process. It may take the same amount of time in healing for betrayal as it does for an addict to heal their brain, sometimes even over 3-5 years.  [18:40] Working on the relationship provides an opportunity for parents to show their children what it looks like when two adults trust, respect, and listen to each other.  [23:11] Help. Her. Heal is something the addict will read and buy, but the betrayed partner is encouraged to be in on the work as well. It will work best when they use it and apply the principles together. The work can also be shared with any therapist or clinician the couple is working with.  [24:55] Carol has the oldest running podcast in the field of sexual addiction and partner betrayal on the internet.    RESOURCES:  Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency  Out of the Doghouse Help. Her. Heal  BlogTalkRadio -- Carol the Coach  Carol the Coach  Carol the Coach YouTube  Patrick Carnes  APSATS   QUOTES: “Addicts want empathy in their life, and they want to learn it because they don’t have it.”  “A partner wants to know that the addict gets her pain, and he caused it.”  “Partners typically want to stay in the relationship.” 
Kim Buck, CSAT and Clinical Director of Family Strategies Counseling Center in Arizona, joins the show this week. Kim and Rob discuss the differences between the Prodependence model vs. Codependence, the interesting results she is finding using this model at her own center, and what is helpful for partners to understand when dealing with betrayal and loving an addict. She and Rob also share why the Prodependence model gives betrayed partners support and compassion in crisis rather than judgment or blame, along with the freedom to examine themselves as much as they wish, when they wish.    TAKEAWAYS: [5:05] Betrayed partners are typically in deep trauma and crisis when dealing with the bad behavior of their addict, and understanding Prodependence gives the perspective of supporting them in their desire to just try and be helpful, instead of being the cause or the one to blame.  [9:30] Kim has her clients look at what is right in the relationship, and what, if anything, is worth saving.  [11:33] Instead of looking for a pathology or reason the betrayed partner caused the addicts behavior, Prodependence deals with the crisis at hand to try and let the partner feel their feelings and begin to get some sense of safety while in such trauma.  [13:50] While other models talk more about the betrayed partners history and past, often times they are just there to get support in the moment.  [16:04] Betrayed partners tend to let go of their own care while attempting to save their relationship and family. In this time of emotional freefall, judging them only produces more fear, hurt, shame and self doubt.  [22:22] It is very common for addicts to blame the spouse, and that also is very hurtful.  [24:10] Kim works with her betrayed clients to validate and support them, show them it wasn’t their fault for the addicts behavior, then help them find boundaries and useful ways to show up in the relationship if they choose to continue.  [26:33] Codependency often calls for detaching from the addict so they can suffer on their own, but this is not always sustainable or healthy for either partners. We have to figure out what is saveable and why they want to be in the relationship, and then work on it from there.  [29:22] Kim finds it’s a natural process to want more understanding down the road, but they can explore the past later once the crisis is over.    RESOURCES:  Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency  William White  Family Strategies Counseling Center   QUOTES: “We have to look at strengths individually, and what has gone right in this relationship and what you want to save.”  “When you love someone, you just do what you can to make their life better.”  “Don’t question your love for someone.”  “What I really need, is just space to feel.”  “It’s very easy for caretakers to find themselves in a deficit.”  “The most power you have is a gentle invitation that is offered by example.”   
Dan Griffin, M.A. is an internationally recognized author, thought leader, and expert who has dedicated his life and work to redefining what it means to be a man in the 21st century. He joins the show this week to talk with Rob about rewriting the rules and rigidity of what it means to really be a man, and the benefits men can get when they get in touch with their own feelings and deeply connect with others.    TAKEAWAYS: [2:57] A few of the rules that the world has set up for boys at a young age to define what makes a real man:  Don’t cry. Real men don’t cry, and if you do it shows weakness.  Don’t ask for help.  Don’t be weak or vulnerable, or “like a girl”.  Don’t be gay.  Be a protector and provider.  Use sex as the main form of intimacy, and have as sex with as many hot chicks as possible.  Success defines who we are, and second place is the first loser.  [8:04] A large portion of men find they have no one to talk to or deeply communicate with, and this further creates a disconnection to self and the tendency to shut out others.  [11:21] We’re all like fish in the water, feeding off the same environment affecting each other with our actions. When an environment is supportive and fosters growth, it is more likely a man will shine and feel comfortable to show his true self.   [12:03] The rules themselves aren’t bad, but get in the way because they mandate without choice. There’s nothing wrong with strength and power, it's rigidity that blocks emotion and connection.  [14:43] Gay men have an experience of having multiple rules: ones set up for gay men, women and straight men all at once.  [20:38] We would all benefit if men are able to get in touch with their own emotions, and in turn they could access more empathy and understanding when women share their story. [28:02] Crisis can be an opportunity to get vulnerable and open us up to meaningful, deep conversation.   [28:39] Each man has the right to choose what type of man he wants to be, which Dan terms as conscious masculinity.  [29:44] Men define intimacy via sex, and it is important to talk about breakdowns in the area before it gets to point where the partner cheats.  [33:18] With suicide rates being higher than ever, the impact of feeling isolated and disconnected is more serious than it’s ever been.  [35:17] We highly benefit when we go below the surface the people in our lives and show them the true authentic selves.    RESOURCES:  Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency  Dan Griffin  A Man’s Way Through Relationships  Terry Real  I Don’t Want to Talk About It  Dr. Allen Berger  American Psychological Association  The Good Men Project  QUOTES: “This is the armor that protects us, and it’s not a well constructed identity.”  “When you are alone and you look in the mirror, can you hold eye contact with the man that you see?”  “Such an amazing opportunity for connection and love gets undone because we can’t talk to each other.”  “It starts with taking a risk, and men have to be willing to take a risk to open up to somebody else.”  “The man rules are antisocial and narcissistic.” 
Ian Friedman is one of the most sought after criminal defense lawyers in the country, and a partner at the Cleveland based firm Friedman and Nemecek. He joins the show to talk with Rob about the diverse nature of cases that he takes on, including criminal, cyber crimes and white collar manners. He talks about the law needing to catch up with the new crimes we are presently dealing with, and how sexually based charges fall within one of the toughest areas of law. Ian discusses how he and his clients deal with the potential major stigmas and penalties attached, and resources available to people who want to discover more.    TAKEAWAYS: [1:04] Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Ian Friedman has served as chief legal counsel on behalf of individuals and entities from coast to coast and as far as Europe, Asia, and South America. In addition to his legal work, he is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law teaching Computers & Criminal Law.  [2:38] Despite handling countless murder cases, people look at those that are merely charged with offenses with a hefty amount of judgement and paint the term “sex offenders” with a very wide stroke. To Ian, a sex offender can be many things on a broad spectrum. For example, it can be at 19 year old engaging in a sexual relationship with a girlfriend that is 16, or as far as people exploiting children, or engaging in non consensual physical acts with adults or minors. [4:37] Ian has taught about cyber crime since 2006, and it all changes so fast that it is necessary to talk about present cases in order to even catch up. Cyber crime examples can be online exploitation, hacking, third party intrusions, crypto currency offenses, online stalking and any sort of online financial crimes. He teaches his students to be able to both educate while still showing respect for the bench.  [7:49] The Fourth Amendment touches about people’s right to privacy and prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. This has also shifted and expanded a great deal as more and more cases deal with uncovering things within a people’s computer and search history.  [9:53] Misdemeanors could (all jurisdictions are different) be anything from soliciting prostitutes, exhibisionism, etc. These carry very harsh consequences of embarrassment, loss of relationships and work.  [13:02] Our laws are not caught up to technology, and we are using dated laws to fit new offenses in. There is a lack of understanding, and Ian believes it’s not always law itself but the sentencing of that law.  [17:55] Charges on sexual offending also have one of the highest rates of false allegations because there can be ulterior motives. This stresses the importance of taking into account the motivations behind an accusation.  [21:17] When Ian meets with a client for the first time, they are often terrified and mortified. Ian lets them know there is no judgement. He also has set up a network of former clients and family members to help support the new client. Treatment and rehab are not the final step, but more like an important step in the right direction.  [30:11] Due to the strong stigma and penalties associated with accusations of this nature, it is so critical to work with people who have expertise in this particular area of the law.    RESOURCES:  Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency  American Board Criminal Lawyers Ian Friedman  Cleveland-Marshall College of Law  QUOTES: “It’s a very tough landscape for anyone that finds themselves involved in allegations of a sex crime.”  “We are dealing with crimes that we weren’t dealing with 6 months ago, and that’s why I can’t even order a textbook for this class. By the time it comes, it’s outdated.”  “Sexting is a little bit like sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”  “You need to go to people who have been doing the work for a while.” 
Tim Stein is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, engaged in helping couples find the love they are meant to have. Tim is the co-founder of Willow Tree Counseling in Santa Rosa, and works with sex addicts and their partners providing individual, group, and couples therapy. Tim is a bright and rising star in the field of sex addiction, and speaks about the expected betrayed partner responses, along with the honesty that must be present in order for true healing and recovery to occur.    TAKEAWAYS: [3:19] Tim co-founded Willow Tree Counseling in Santa Rosa, and this gives an opportunity to people on the central coast of California a place to go during this time of trauma and recovery.  [5:32] Tim understood addict recovery, and got to understand the trauma betrayed partners really went through after working with a colleague. This folded into the partners sensitivity movement, which also goes along with the idea of Prodependence.  [7:38] When a partner is betrayed, there are certain “predictable unpredictable” behaviors and responses. This individual has just had their bottom fall out beneath them, and also may have felt denied of their intuition and devalued for quite some time.  [11:04] Even before a cheating partner is caught, chances are their energy is less than completely loving and connected with their partner. They may start to be even more forgetful, cold or distant, and may be resentful towards their partner to try and justify their bad behavior.  [16:10] Partners can pick up on this energy can have autoimmune or libido issues before the cheating is out in the open. They can pick up on the possible shame and guilt the addict feels, and these cues can cause real physical and emotional symptoms.  [19:02] It’s not a comfortable thing to admit struggle and vulnerability, and even tougher when the addict is in recovery. However, it is part of the important process of building back true trust with their partner and loved ones.  [23:05] Most of the relationships that Tim sees fail occur when the addict isn’t able to do the rigorous work of total honesty and disclosure to make their partner feel safe and understood.    RESOURCES:  Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency  Seeking Integrity Tim Stein MFT  Willow Tree Santa Rosa  Out of the Dog House    QUOTES: “It’s hard to love someone and hurt them at the same time.”  “Every lie is going to be seen as an example about how you are probably lying about everything.”  “It’s not a comfortable thing to admit struggle and vulnerability.” 
It’s a solo show today as Rob discusses treatment and the crucial healing elements that must be in place when working with addicts. He talks about his experience running the Seeking Integrity treatment center for over 25 years, and how groups can model the closeness and connection that addicts may miss in their upbringing. He also discusses the role of integrity, and how addiction is not an excuse for bad behavior but rather an indicator that one is struggling with issues and trying to work on them.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:58] Often times someone will say they are entering themselves in a treatment center for one reason, but first we have to really understand why they are coming in. While being a better person is certainly an appropriate goal, it’s really about having integrity and living in a way that doesn’t harm yourself or someone else. Integrity is so important to healing, that is why Rob named his treatment center Seeking Integrity.  [4:05] Addicts are usually unable to get their needs met in healthy and positive ways, and this leads to them living a separate and compartmentalized life, and getting what they want through manipulative behavior. Healing will begin as they start to take care of their own emotional needs and the needs of others instead of slipping into behavior that allows them to disappear into fantasy.  [8:33] Many addicts did not have a model for healthy families or intimacy from their own family while growing up. Understanding that this would cause trauma is called Trauma Informed Treatment. Therapists will understand they have a deep and enduring problem with intimacy and closeness and perhaps are using drugs as an escape.  [11:26] Trauma is not an excuse, it is an opportunity to honor and acknowledge triggers and emotional touch points that keep us disconnected and separated from true intimacy and connection.  [14:33] One of the most important elements of healing is relationships. Groups and programs can give addicts the kind of family experience they never had growing up, and for the first time ever they can learn to depend on other people.  [25:02] If treatment is done right, the clients will get a deep sense that people can be there for them and still give them support.  [29:08] Integrity comes from integration and bringing separate parts together into a whole. Recovery is about not having anything to hide.    RESOURCES:  Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101  Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men  Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency  Seeking Integrity   QUOTES: “The primary problem is not sexual addiction or drug use — that’s the symptom.” “Groups bring isolated people together in a place to talk about painful topics and get support — that’s almost like a healthy family.” “If you put me in the right environment with the right support — I will get better.” “You don’t recover alone.” “Being an addict is not an excuse, it’s a responsibility.” “In order to receive love you have to live a life of integrity.”
Dr. Jamie Marich is an EMDR therapy master trainer and author of 5 books including Process: Not Perfection and creator of the Dancing Mindfulness approach to expressive arts therapy. Dr. Jamie joins the show to talk about expressive arts solutions for trauma recovery, what trauma work is, how someone knows if they have trauma, and the resources to begin working on it. She and Rob also talk about both the similarities and differences of trauma work in addiction and therapy and what the two could stand to learn from each other to give even more support to those affected.   TAKEAWAYS: [3:08] Jamie worked in Humanitarian Aid in Bosnia in 2000-2003, and she met Janet, a mentor that got her on her own path to recovery. Janet validated so much of her experience in addiction by telling her “It’s no wonder you became addicted after everything you went through, but what are you going to do about it now?”. This was the first time someone framed it in a way that made sense, and put her own trauma into perspective. It challenged her to take action and really work on her issues. [5:54] Often times we associate trauma with putting the responsibility on someone, especially when it is from our early childhood. Jamie explains that it is good to practice mindfulness, but first we have to explore why one is difficult to stay in the moment in the first place. [10:46] The idea of safety and a commitment to the well being of the addict is strong from both the addiction and therapy treating camps. It’s not productive to keep citing trauma without addiction, so to explore one we have to consider the other. Jamie will have a conversation with her clients about what safety really means, and how it’s okay and not “bad” or “wrong” if they aren’t able to feel perfectly safe right away, or even ever. [12:21] Jamie defines trauma as any unhealed human wound. It can come in different forms such as physical, mental, emotional, and trauma work is the broad spectrum of connection and activities that helps us know that we are not our thoughts, feelings and sensations, we are just the person that has them. [17:23] Whether your trauma is associated in your memory or not, it can play out in how the body responds. The body may react thinking it’s protecting itself, and so much of trauma work needs to involve embodied activities that help you realize a more adaptive kind of coping. It is possible that through this work, people will feel their feelings for the first time in a long time. [25:40] Jamie encourages us to give it 3 sessions with a therapist to see if there is a connection and see if they give you choice with the treatment options they offer. For example, they may be able to work with you through cognitive therapy, expressive arts work, and EMDR. [28:20] Both a 12 Step Group and expressive arts work allows us a safe place to connect with ourselves and others. [31:55] Jamie provides much value and resources for everyone. Her latest book, Process Not Perfection, can be an addition to therapy or a self guided resource for healing.   RESOURCES: Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101 Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency Dr. Christine Courtois The Body Keeps the Score Trauma Made Simple Process Not Perfection Dr. Jamie Marich Jamie Marich YouTube @drjamiem Dancing Mindfulness   QUOTES: “I had no idea that trauma had so many broader applications.” “It’s not the wound itself that causes us problems, it’s when the wound remains unhealed.” “Part of healing and empowerment is realizing you have a choice in the matter.”
Even those of us with the most education and opportunities can still end up struggling with intimacy, drugs, and addiction. Executive Coach Dr. Ryan Bayley joins the show today to discuss his work helping professionals redesign their life events to close the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Ryan draws from his own experience in Emergency Medicine to coach physicians from anywhere to burnout to just looking to find more stability in their life. He also shares why physicians have a high burnout rate of almost 60%, what burnout looks like, what types of situations tend to get professionals in trouble, and how working with a coach can help.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:44] Ryan himself is double-boarded in Emergency Medicine and Emergency Medical Services, and holds an adjunct faculty position at the Duke University School of Medicine. Ryan went to medical school at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and completed his undergraduate at Harvard University. [2:05] Ryan became a coach because he feels physicians and high performing individuals should feel engaged and challenged, and yet not at the cost of being able to honor what is important to them outside of work. [3:08] Often the high performing professions are in an environment where they have a lot of responsibility and there is little tolerance for error or weakness. This is especially true for physicians, and burnout will cause them to act out and possibly lose a career for which they sacrificed years and much of their identity. Physicians have a 60% burnout rate, and a single act of disruptive behavior can lead to them losing their license completely. [14:37] As a coach, Ryan sits down with his client and helps develop a vision step by step of where they want to be from a holistic point of view. They then map out action steps to get there, and the accountability steps it will take to move forward towards that vision. This is similar to the mindfulness and support that a sponsor for a 12 Step program would give someone they are working with. [22:25] It is possible to be very smart, and yet emotionally empty and dissatisfied at the same time. Physicians especially are often very high achievers, perfectionists and do extreme work. They “need to be needed” and Ryan works with them to have them achieve as much health in their career, or possibly realize they are ready for a career change. [28:42] Since physicians rely on trust from their patients and the families of their patients, there is little room for instability and symptoms of burn out. Having a coach like Ryan can help them find stability and reflection to do their best, so their health is in good shape to in turn help others. [32:41] Working with a coach is a two way street, and it is important to discuss goals with your potential coach to see if it is a match for both parties.   RESOURCES: Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101 Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency Physicians Health Program Ryan Bayley, M.D. (919) 951-7709   QUOTES: “Our intellect and emotions can run on two different tracks.” “Knowing what you want to move towards is likely to result in sustained change.” “You can be very smart, and also very empty emotionally.”  
Debra Kaplan, MA, LPC, LISAC, CMAT, CSAT-S specializes in helping adults and adolescents overcome addictions, issues related to sex and love, relationship struggles and unresolved traumatic stress. Today she shares information on how sex, money, and power play a role in addiction, what her experience was like working in the heavily male-dominated environment of Wall Street, what monetized rage is, and the first steps one must take in order to break free of the need for external validation to feel worthy and safe.   TAKEAWAYS: [3:35] Although we do see abuse of sex and power in a large public forum, it can also happen in subtle ways. It may even be hard to notice that one is being abused, and not always understood by the one being controlled. [5:16] Monetized rage speaks to the monetary exploitation of one individual by another. It can be an exchange of sex for money, cutting off funds, or only giving funds when a certain monetary need is met. [6:20] There is a self centeredness that exists with sexual exploitation. It can take place when there is a power differential, at any level of income and any demographic, age or gender. [12:46] It is almost a universal experience that women have to put on some type of armor to just exist in a culture where remarks and suggestive behavior run rampant. [17:22] Women gear up to protect themselves one way or another in subtle ways. This can look like dressing down at work intentionally, or trying to also be overtly sexual to deflect unwanted attention. [23:09] The greatest factors that negatively impact relationships and cause divorce are finance and work stresses, and cheating / infidelity. Debra works on helping couples realize their individual value, and what each of them bring to make the relationship better. [27:40] In a culture that thrives on showing off money, sex, and power, it is imperative for people to know their self worth as a human individual. [32:41] Social media has given us a 24/7 access to keep up with the Joneses, so it’s important to know that it’s just a highlight reel of people’s lives, and there is much under the surface we don’t see.   RESOURCES: Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101 Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency Debra Kaplan Debra Kaplan Counseling Facebook Debra Kaplan Counseling LinkedIn For Love and Money Decades After ‘Boom Boom Room’ Suit, Bias Persists for Women   QUOTES: “What can go wrong when you have sex, money, and power?” “Abuse can happen in subtle, overt ways.” “Whatever I accomplished had to be 3x what my male colleague achieved.” “Wall Street has been immune from the front page social media fodder.”
Rob is joined with colleague and friend Andrew Susskind in today’s episode to talk about the issues that surround recovery and healing. They discuss what to expect during recovery, and where some may still be stuck even if they are moving forward. Andrew is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, Brainspotting Practitioner and Certified Group Psychotherapist. They also discuss his book It’s Not About the Sex, Andrew’s work with the nervous system, and the resources available to help others understand themselves.   TAKEAWAYS: [4:02] Addiction, in general, is typically based in broken-heartedness and feeling unworthy. This could be something from someone’s past or early developmental trauma that gets them into a pattern where they are seeking to fill the “hole in the soul” with addictive compulsive behavior. [7:39] It’s a double problem between the shame that the addiction brings, and the actual feelings that cause the addiction in the first place. [10:50] Unless there is real help offered in the early stages, it is common for people to act out what has been done to them. Once there is some kind of abuse or trauma where our nervous system has trouble balancing, it can feel like anxiety, panic, or dissociation. [14:15] Andrew helps his clients with somatic awareness to understand more about what’s happening in the body including thoughts, memories, and sensations. When he discovered this work, it opened up a whole new level of questions to get down to the core of the information coming from their body. [18:02] As a social worker, it is Andrew’s job to help people find help and healing despite how much money and time they have. [21:12] We are biologically hardwired for connection, and true recovery lies in being able to feel loveable, desirable, and worthy of others believing in us. [22:49] Some of the themes that Andrew addresses in It’s Not About the Sex have to do with grief, shame, narcissism, emotional sobriety, regulating the nervous system, and knowing there will be stumbling and fumbling along the way. [24:49] Connection is important, but having people that are emotionally dependable who can be there in a meaningful and deep way is crucial. [29:12] It takes two whole people to come together and make a really meaningful relationship and true emotional contentment. [30:56] For some it’s about trusting others, and some people may want to feel safe in the world. It comes down to each person experiencing intimacy or a meaningful connection in their life, whatever it means to them.   RESOURCES: Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101 Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency It's Not about the Sex: Moving from Isolation to Intimacy After Sexual Addiction Seeking Integrity Westside Therapist   QUOTES: “It’s human nature that often what is done to us, we do to others.” “This is an opportunity to learn about yourself, and find ways that work better for you.” “Healing does not take place in isolation, you have to sit with another human being.”
Dr. David Fawcett returns to the show today to talk with Rob about all the different ways that drug and sex addiction intersects, what exactly chem sex is and announces their new project Seeking Integrity, the first series of treatment environments that address both issues. David is a therapist, author of Lust, Men and Meth, and expert in methamphetamines and stimulants in sexual behavior. They also discuss the traditional challenges in treating drug and sex addictions together, the biological explanation of why the two fuse together, and how Seeking Integrity helps others within their connection with themselves.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:07] Over time, the behavior becomes fused so that the person is unable to separate the drug addiction from the sexual problem. When you do two things at the same time and dopamine is involved, it bonds the two things together much like a Pavlovian conditioned response. [3:56] When an addict experiences an uncomfortable emotion, they go to their “medicine” such as drugs or acting out sexually. As these two become combined, they have an even harder time recovering. [4:31] Seeking Integrity’s goal is to evolve and advance treatment for addicts of all kinds so they can heal long term. One of the challenges is that this topic is not addressed in drug and alcohol recovery centers, and the two are often treated separately.   [7:53] We still view sexual addiction as a moral issue rather than a medical issue. David finds it helpful to show scientifically based documentation such as brain scans to show that this is not always the case. [9:20] At Seeking Integrity they work on developing coping mechanisms to lower the chance of transferring one addiction to another. [11:21] The goal of treatment is to not be perfect right away, but to make strides towards being healthy. [13:19] The brain has to regenerate dopamine, and while the addict is recovering they may experience long periods of depression, which is why it’s important for them to work with a professional and realize that healing takes time. [17:38] A lot of addictics have a lot of trouble with intimacy, and much has to do with how they were raised and what they learned about it. [20:58] Addicts need to reset their brain chemistry so they can learn to be still, and develop relationships that foster connection, joy, and pleasure. [24:18] Finding connection is at the cornerstone of Seeking Integrity, as that is one of the strongest and most profoundly healing feelings any human can experience.   RESOURCES: Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101 Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency David Fawcett Lust, Men, and Meth: A Gay Man’s Guide to Sex and Recovery Seeking Integrity What’s Wrong With Addiction Treatment Sex, Love, and Addiction - David’s podcast QUOTES: “What fires together wires together.” “We as clinicians are under trained in how to talk about sex.” “The manifestation of shame may be different, but shame underlies all addictions.” “People can have different tastes, but when it’s paired with drug behavior it’s going to link.” “Love, intimacy, and connection are the deepest sources of healing.”
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Sep 18th

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An essential episode discussing the role emeshment plays in sex and love addiction.

Sep 2nd
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