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The 5% Recovery Myth For Sex Addicts

Although the Sex Addiction gurus, like Carnes and Weiss, claim that any Sex Addict can change and recover if they really want to, and some even claim a 100% success rate, those of us who have lived and researched the behaviors that are called Sex Addiction know that is just not possible.

Yet even the most traumatized women, and a lot of Sisters here on the site seem to cling to the hope that there is a 5% recovery rate for Sex Addicts, and many hang onto that statistic, hoping that their relationship will be one of the lucky 5%.

So, where did this number come from? Certainly not from the recovery programs, they do not have any data. Certainly not from the psychiatrists and psychologists who treat Personality Disorders because they know that there is no ‘cure’ for Personality Disorders.

So just where did this 5% myth for recovery from Sex Addiction start? Is there any validity to it? Should we all hope that our sexually addicted partner is on of those chosen few? Is that even possible?

I really don’t know how this 5% chance of recovery became attached to Sex Addiction, I have debunked it over and over on both of my websites. Yet it keeps popping up in topics and comments.

Some illnesses, especially cancer, have a certain spontaneous remission rate. It can happen with or without treatment. This spontaneous occurrence is often referred to as ‘miraculous’ and has aided many people in elevation to sainthood for their intervention. Although unexplained, it is not miraculous, it simply happens when the body’s immune system kicks into high gear.

Spontaneous remission, also called spontaneous healing or spontaneous regression is an unexpected improvement or cure from a disease that appears to be progressing in its severity.

There are various rates of spontaneous remission, some cancers have a higher rate than others, but the most common statistic I have heard is 5%, and even that is highly questionable. While it is often quoted that spontaneous remission occurs in approximately one in 60,000 to 100,000 cases, it is not clear from where this figure is derived.

So 5% is just a figure without a home.

Unfortunately there are no statistics for Sexual Addiction Recovery. No one has done any long term studies, and, because of the secretive aspect of Sex Addiction and the extreme deception and manipulation that defines the Sex Addict, scientific studies are almost impossible. We can validate sobriety in drug addicts or alcoholics, but we don’t have a blood or urine test for sex. Yes, polygraphs can be used, but there are no ongoing statistics on polygraph validated sobriety rates for Sex Addicts over the long term.

But, there are volumes of research papers on Personality Disorders and addictions. Addictions, in the professional world, are called Personality Traits, traits that make up the disordered personality. These studies have the validity of a scientific approach as well as timelines and control groups. I think we can learn a lot from this type research.

Sex Addiction, like gambling or over eating is a behavioral addiction, as opposed to chemical addictions like drugs or alcohol. Vulnerability to develop an addiction is influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Therefore the chances for recovery depend on a complexity of factors that the therapist and the addict have no control over.

So if the behavior (addiction) is a trait of an underlying Personality Disorder there is no way of predicting if this behavior can be modified (sobriety) or if the behavior modification will persist.

But one thing is certain. Whatever underlying Personality Disorders are present will remain throughout the rest of their lives. Personalities do not change. Behaviors can, but behavioral modification for Personality Traits is complex both in the treatment methods and the disordered person’s ability and desire to do the intense, long term counseling and the very hard work to make and keep those changes.

So, is there any hope that a Sex Addict can change? Certainly, but it is not easy and it is not likely.

Is there a 5% chance?

Not in my book. ~ JoAnn

JoAnn Russell, RN, MS

How and Why I Started The Sisterhood Of Support Some of you may wonder how and why I started the Sisterhood Of Support. My name is JoAnn Russell, RN, BSN, MS and I am the founder and developer of the Married To A Sex Addict and Sisterhood Of Support websites. Background I am a woman, a mother, grandmother and a retired Registered Nurse with a Master of Science Degree. I am also a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practitioner. I bring almost two decades of experience in crisis counseling in Community Domestic Abuse programs and Home Care and Hospice to support the women who visit my sites. As both a Partner and a trauma survivor myself I offer a unique support system based on my own experiences and enhanced by the tens of thousands of stories from the Partners who have shared their stories on my websites. Because of my medical background I also bring a vast amount of scientific research. My two decades of experience as a journalist and web developer have allowed me to bring a unique blend of factual information, support and insight to Partners of sex addicts. How It All Started In 2004 I started a small blog about my discovery that my husband had a secret and very dark sexual life. I had no one to talk with and I felt isolated, traumatized and hopeless. Most counselors labeled me ‘co-dependent’, sent me to 12 Step ‘co’ meetings where everyone just couldn’t understand why I refused to accept some of the responsibility for my husband’s behaviors that had nothing to do with me and had been going on for most of his adult life. As I researched this thing that was called sex addiction one glaring issue revealed itself. The sex addicts had all sorts of support groups, articles, books, specialized counselors and programs to help them. These people, whose behaviors harmed themselves and their families in dreadful ways were not being held accountable for their actions. Instead they were coddled, enabled and protected from any criticism, questioning or perfectly understandable anger from their partners. The partners were chastised for their anger, directed not to question the sex addict as it might shame them, and encouraged to engage in sexual intimacy…without warning them of the dangers of STDs. They were told after a very short period of time that they should quit dwelling on the past, ‘get over it’ and give the relationship their complete trust, even though that trust had not been earned. My blog became my outlet for my confusion and frustrations. I intended to write a book but I quickly realized that my internet presence would have a larger impact against what I knew was an injustice that blamed victims for their trauma. A system that mis-labeled disordered behaviors and traits as a diagnosis and then treated it with nothing more than expensive snake oil and smoke screens. As the website grew and matured, and changed names a few times, the comments from women poured in at an amazing rate. By 2011 my website was bursting at the seams. Tens of thousands of women visited the site each month and were asking for a private place to discuss their experiences. They needed a place away from the prying eyes of the public and their families. A place where they could feel safe sharing the most intimate details of their ordeals with others who understood. In February of 2011 The Sisterhood Of Support was Launched Today the Sisterhood has members from all over the world; women who come together to share their pain, ask questions, gain from the experiences of others and form bonds and friendships that last for years. Over twenty thousand topics have been written by these women in the forums and the comments top a quarter of a million. My passion is to continue to provide support for partners of sex addicts by offering a safe place for them to share their experiences, to provide resources that will make their journey a little easier and to offer honest information and scientific research with verifiable conclusions about the abusive behaviors that are commonly called sex addiction.

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  1. Deleted User

    Wow. I truly appreciate your knowledge about this disease. Sadly for those of us like myself who have chosen to stay with our SA spouses, it almost seems as though I will be living a horrible life with no hope of having any type of happiness with that spouse. I just know that for me, the choice to stay outweighs leaving right now. I know I have support from my “sisters” and I am thankful for that at least

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