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No, it’s not and for a very good reason.

The effectiveness of 12 Step programs is poor … and data regarding its efficacy for compulsive sexual behavior is virtually nonexistent – sex addiction or hypersexuality, was expressly rejected as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). What??? … I was shocked when I learned this. And it was rejected for a number of very very good reasons.

This statement might be shocking to read – it was for me when I first learned it. I was flabbergasted. Just about every single counselor or therapist I saw told me that I had an “addiction” and that I needed to attend 12 Step Meetings. Just one mentioned that sex addiction or porn addiction WASN’T a recognized disorder by the APA. And this isn’t the only professional organization that has spoken publicly on the issue. 

Also, and this is very big news,American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), the leading association for members in the sexual health field in the United States, recently issued a position paper rejecting the sex and porn addiction model as well. Here’s what they said:

Founded in 1967, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) is devoted to the promotion of sexual health by the development and advancement of the fields of sexuality education, counseling and therapy. With this mission, AASECT accepts the responsibility of training, certifying and advancing high standards in the practice of sexuality education services, counseling and therapy. When contentious topics and cultural conflicts impede sexuality education and health care, AASECT may publish position statements to clarify standards to protect consumer sexual health and sexual rights.

AASECT recognizes that people may experience significant physical, psychological, spiritual and sexual health consequences related to their sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors. AASECT recommends that its members utilize models that do not unduly pathologize consensual sexual behaviors.

AASECT 1) does not find sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder, and 2) does not find the sexual addiction training and treatment methods and educational pedagogies to be adequately informed by accurate human sexuality knowledge.

Therefore, it is the position of AASECT that linking problems related to sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors to a porn/sexual addiction process cannot be advanced by AASECT as a standard of practice for sexuality education delivery, counseling or therapy.

https://www.aasect.org/position-sex-addiction

This is so important to understand that this doesn’t mean that you aren’t suffering and that your behavior has become compulsive. It’s certainly like an addiction, but that doesn’t make it one and even if it did, the current treatment for addictions of all sorts is evolving. 

12 steps has remained virtually unchanged for the past 75 years  – think about that for a second in light of the incredible scientific advances humans have achieved.

In 12 Steps, you admit that you are powerless over your addiction and must surrender to a higher power. These parts really bothered me along with the daily declaration, of “Hi, my name is Craig and I’m a sex/porn addict.”

It’s also entirely centered around the thing that you are trying to stop doing, instead of structurally driving healthy habits and thoughts – healthy actions. I later learned that these same things that bothered me are the same scientific reasons why the program isn’t effective.

TO BREAK A HABIT YOU HAVE TO MAKE A HABIT. Why then I asked myself was I obsessively focusing on the thing I wanted to stop doing instead of obsessively focusing on creating new habits. 

It’s the exact opposite of what you need. When I lost my $150k/yr executive job because of my compulsive sexual behavior, almost lost my wife, and was being a shitty father, the last thing I needed to hear was that I was powerless and I had to surrender.

The Mindful Habit System, the modality that I created and teach to therapists and clients all over the world, instead, teaches you to embrace your power and you learn tools to transmute your powerful sexual energy – it demands that you never surrender.

It’s rooted in the science of habits, mindfulness, goal setting, and risk management – since habits cannot be eradicated or erased and because your triggers are biologically hardwired, you learn to use those triggers to drive positive results.

A commercial pilot client of mine said it best, “you don’t see aviation engineers sitting around bitching about gravity … no, they use it to create flight, just like I’ve learned to use my triggers to drive positive actions.” 

The Mindful Habit™ System is literally an evolution of the disease based model of addiction. It empowers you in a powerful way to embrace your power of choice using scientifically proven behavior change modalities – it rapidly moves you from addiction, to recovery, to living often in less than 12 weeks.

According to an article in the New York Times, “[w]hen Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs are examined in controlled studies, . . . scientists find no proof that they are superior to any other intervention in reducing alcohol dependence or alcohol-related problems.”

Dr. Lance Dodes, the former director of Harvard’s substance abuse treatment unit at McLean Hospital, who in 2013 wrote a book called The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry stated:

“Alcoholics Anonymous [the program upon which all 12 step programs are based] was proclaimed the correct treatment for alcoholism over seventy-five years ago despite the absence of any scientific evidence of the approach’s efficacy . . . and we have been on the wrong path ever since.”

That does not mean that these programs aren’t helpful if you lack financial resources – 12 Step programs are free. And a handful of my own personal clients have supplemented their Mindful Habit training with a 12 Step program.

Just remember to treat it as a buffet. Take the good, and leave behind the stuff that doesn’t work or that isn’t moving you forward fast. Here are some addiction resources if you want to understand this issue better.

It’s critical that you use a system that works and many people are shocked to learn that the modality recommended to them by their counselor, therapist, and all over the web, has shockingly poor results. Each blurb below clicks to an article about 12 Steps and/or the disease based model. 

Additional Resources:

After 75 Years of Alcoholics Anonymous, It’s Time to Admit We Have a Problem: “Alcoholics Anonymous was proclaimed the correct treatment for alcoholism over seventy-five years ago despite the absence of any scientific evidence of the approach’s efficacy,” he writes in his introduction, “and we have been on the wrong path ever since.”

AA is a poor fit for the majority of people with alcohol problems and can make some people worse. AA is better at creating “true believers” than it is at eliminating problem drinking.

“…there is a paucity of scientific studies supporting the superior effectiveness of AA.”
Reid K. Hester and William R. Miller (eds.) Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches: Effective Alternatives. New York: Pergamon (1989), page 165.

A recent review by the Cochrane Library, a health-care research group, of studies on alcohol treatment conducted between 1966 and 2005 states its results plainly:

“No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or TSF [12-step facilitation] approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problems.”

We’re addicted to rehab. It doesn’t even work., By Bankole A. Johnson, The Washington Post, Sunday, August 8, 2010; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/06/AR2010080602660.html

In every category, the people who got no treatment at all fared better than the people who got A.A. “treatment”.

Peer-reviewed studies peg the success rate of AA somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. That is, about one of every fifteen people who enter these programs is able to become and stay sober.

In 2006, one of the most prestigious scientific research organizations in the world, the Cochrane Collaboration, conducted a review of the many studies conducted between 1966 and 2005 and reached a stunning conclusion: “No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA” in treating alcoholism. This group reached the same conclusion about professional AA-oriented treatment (12-step facilitation therapy, or TSF), which is the core of virtually every alcoholism-rehabilitation program in the country.