A Letter to Dr. Patrick Carnes About Recovering from Sex and Love Addiction

EHN Canada recently attended the IITAP symposium in Phoenix, AZ, and CSAT Counsellor Mike Quarres hand-delivered this letter from a current patient in Edgewood’s Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Program.

Hello Dr. Carnes,

I have a deep appreciation for you. The procedures you have published in the book “Facing the Shadow” have been very helpful. I am one of five men in a group at Edgewood Treatment Centre in Nanaimo, BC. The five of us are in a Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Program facilitated by Mike Quarress.

Formerly, I never realized my addiction to alcohol and cocaine also included sex, love, and my need for intimacy, caring, and nurturing. I have abused alcohol and drugs most of my life. I hit an emotional bottom and cleaned up in 2001. Thinking alcohol and drugs were my addiction, I have spent 20 of my 62 years alive attending meetings and attending the AA and NA fellowships. I have participated in four 28-day group-process residential programs and worked the 12 steps of AA a few times.

Each time I worked the steps my focus was on my drug and alcohol addiction. At the time I was prepared to give up alcohol and drugs, but in no way was I prepared to give up sex. Total abstinence was required of drugs and alcohol and my misunderstanding was that total abstinence was required of sexual matters as well. Well-intentioned counsellors confirmed my thinking.

Fast forward eighteen years—my obsession with cocaine returned, combined with hiring prostitutes and sexually acting out, and caused a lot of damage to my life and the lives of loved ones around me. I enrolled in the Edgewood Treatment Centre Sex and Love Addiction Program. “Facing the Shadow” is our basic text. We are now completing chapter four.

Thank you for your part in helping me understand powerlessness and unmanageability. I thought I had worked Step 1 in previous step groups and heard several times at meetings that Step 1 is the only step that needs to be worked 100%. We are in our fourth week at the treatment centre working Step 1. I now have a new understanding in how many things I am powerless over and how broad my life’s unmanageability actually is, as well as how much damage it has caused in my life.  Thanks to “Facing The Shadow” I was able to come out of denial enough to see this.

Attending AA and NA meetings I had struggled to identify sufficiently. In a desperate attempt to identify at these meetings I was fabricating stories in my mind. I often thought, while listening at meetings, “Ya, I kind of relate, ya, I think I’ve done that,” but my attempts were fruitless as my story just didn’t fit. With Mike’s guidance, working the exercises in your book, I finally am in a program that fits my insides. I have heartfelt gratitude to you and your commitment to helping us with our often socially unacceptable issues.

Respectfully yours,

Martin Lange