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 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