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Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men

Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men

by Robert Weiss

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A moment comes for every addict when the consequences are so great or the pain is so bad that the addict’s life becomes out of control because of his or her behavior. Some are news making moments, such as the public censure when a congressman, minister, general, or professional athlete is cited for unacceptable sexual behavior. For most people those moments


A moment comes for every addict when the consequences are so great or the pain is so bad that the addict’s life becomes out of control because of his or her behavior. Some are news making moments, such as the public censure when a congressman, minister, general, or professional athlete is cited for unacceptable sexual behavior. For most people those moments are followed by resolves to “never do it again”, but somehow after the promise is made, they often find themselves in the exact same location doing something they vowed to never do again. That is addiction.

And for some, this addiction is more difficult to diagnose than in others. Such is the case for gay men. For some gay men fully committed to open sexual choices and experiences, modifying their sexual behavior and restricting their sexual freedoms is like going back in time and surrendering to homophobic attitudes often found in conservative culture. It just doesn’t feel right. After all, the urban gay male culture surrounding him fully supports his sexual exploits as long as the sex is safe. And since gay male sex addicts may not discuss their sexual behavior even with good friends, nobody challenges them on their late-night exploits in unsafe places, their arrest record or brushes with the law, or potential health risks because of their behavior.

The truth is gay male sex addicts are not compulsively sexual because of their sexual orientation, but rather as a consequence of their individual psychological issues and biological predisposition toward addiction. This is exactly the same set of risk factors presented by straight male sex addicts.

Unfortunately, for the gay (sex) addict, his increasingly destructive patterns of behavior take place against a cultural background of dramatically greater sexual and social freedoms than those enjoyed by his heterosexual peers. The single urban gay man who has problems with sex, alcohol, or drugs is in some ways a prisoner of his own freedoms, having fewer cultural opportunities for self-examination and less cultural support for behavior change than does an average heterosexual male.

Finally, there is a resource that can help gay men determine if they are indeed a sex addict and whether or not they are willing to explore behavior change because of their sexual behavior.

Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S, is director of sexual disorders services for Elements Behavioral Health and founding director of The Sexual Recovery Institute, an outpatient sexual addiction treatment center in Los Angeles, California. His media appearances include ESPN, The Discovery Channel, the Today show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Anderson Cooper 360°, and Dateline NBC.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Robert Weiss, with insight and clarity, affirms a healing spiritual message that reflects knowledge, empathy and optimism for the gay sex addict. He celebrates the healing powers of treatment and sustained recovery. He understands the inclusiveness of spirituality that enables him to be a prophetic teacher and therapist.

Reverend Leo Booth, Master of Theology
Author, Say Yes to Your Sexual Healing and The Happy Heretic

Cruise Control is the "go to" book for gay men struggling with out of control sexual behaviors. Now complete with a sober sexuality and dating plan, it guides you in not just how to stop compulsive behaviors but along a gentle path through healthier sexual behaviors.

Joe Kort, PhD, author, 10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives

Finally a book for gay men that confronts sex addiction in an open and non-judgmental way. All the new technologies available today have changed the "old ways" gay men cruised for sex. In the process it has initiated a new breed of sex addicts. Rob Weiss tackles these powerful sexual temptations one by one and provides practical solutions for life long recovery. Cruise Control will be life changing to gay men struggling with their sexual behavior. I highly recommend it.

Claudia Black Ph.D., author, Deceived
and Intimate Treason

Product Details

Gentle Path Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Second Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

FOREWORD written by Dr. Patrick Carnes

Sex is at the core of our identities. It is a natural joyous part of life and being human. But when sex becomes a compulsion or an addiction, it can unravel our lives. I wrote about this very thing in 1983, Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction. For the first time, this book explored the dark side of our sexuality and how compulsive sex can mirror the addictive system often used to explain addictions to gambling, compulsive overeating and substances like alcohol or other drugs. Thirty years ago, and still today the characteristics of the downward spiral of addiction look like this:

-Loss of control over behavior patterns and/or substance use
-Being preoccupied and obsessed with acting out pleasurable behaviors and/or drug use to the detriment of other life goals, relationships, recreation, health and vitality
-Using or continuing problem behavior despite obvious negative consequences
-Living a double, secret life while hiding acting out or drug use from those closest to you
-The inability to gain and maintain genuine intimacy with spouses and loved ones – due to secrets, lies and a hidden compartmentalized life

It doesn’t matter if the addiction is to a substance or behavior, whether you are male, female, gay, bisexual or straight, the underlying psychological dynamics that drive addictive sexual acting out are all the same. Addictions do not discriminate. Early neglect, abuse, character disorders, and other emotional challenges all play a part in the equation.

Although the path to addiction is the same for everyone, the gay male community has its own unique challenges. In addition to a sad legacy of HIV/AIDS, gay men typically have higher rates of drug addiction and alcoholism than heterosexuals.1 And recognizing sex addiction among gays is more difficult than identifying it in straight men.

A resource like this second edition of Cruise Control couldn’t be timelier. Since the first edition of Cruise Control (published in 2005), our sexual landscape has changed irrevocably due to new and evolving technology. Not only has this greatly impacted how all of us communicate and stay in contact with each other, it’s also changed how we date, mate or even simply hook-up with a stranger. Today, GPS and smart phone apps have changed the way men (and women) cruise for sex. The opportunities to locate a willing sexual partner now require much less effort than in the past, when one actually had to physically encounter another person to find sex. Today, a laptop or readily accessible mobile device tucked in a pocket or briefcase is all that is required to find endless sexual encounters of every stripe. While all this can be liberating for some- it can also cause big problems for those gay (and straight) men who find their lives spiraling out of control directly related to their sexual behavior. Losing control over pleasure can be extremely dangerous and accurately knowing who and when to turn for help can be challenging.

Cruise Control is an essential resource for any gay men who have found their lives unraveled from the grips of sex addiction. It is also essential reading for anyone in a primary or family relationship with a gay male sex addict. Today, a mere six years after publication, gay male Twelve Step programs now routinely incorporate it as required reading. Cruise Control serves to illuminate a safe path out of the shadows of sexual compulsion, back into the light and fullness of life. Readers are offered insightful, step-by-step direction and solutions to the issues that gay sex addicts men and their loved-ones encounter as they begin the long road to healing. And author, Rob Weiss is the perfect person to bring clarity to this often very complicated issue. Not only does he take a realistic and holistic approach to assisting gay men in determining whether or not they are sex addicts, he also provides specific steps to be taken toward hope, healing and recovery.

Robert Weiss clearly is an empathetic guide through the proven strategies that has helped countless gay men develop healthy approaches to sexual expression. I have known and worked with Rob for several decades now –beginning when he was just starting out as a young, dedicated clinician. His ability to get to the heart of the problems of his clients was already legendary early in his career. As the founding Director of the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles and Director of Sexual Disorders Services at Elements Behavioral Health, Promises Malibu and The Ranch, he has established an international reputation for helping therapists understand the disease of sexual addiction, while supporting those who struggle to begin their sex addiction recovery journey. This revised, current book helps solidify Rob’s wisdom and resources to recovering and gay communities everywhere. It should find a place in the personal libraries of all those recovering people and therapists who want to illuminate the dark recesses of our sexual selves and flourish as human beings.

Patrick Carnes, PhD

Meet the Author

“Rob is the foremost expert on sexual addiction in the United States.”

-Dr. Drew, Producer of Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew

Robert Weiss, LCSW, is a sexual addiction and recovery expert. With nearly 3,700 followers on Twitter, he's the "go to guy" for the media on matters relating to sex addiction. He keeps an active blog at: www.robertweissmsw.com and is the founding Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute (SRI), Los Angeles and Director of Sexual Disorders Services for Elements Behavioral Health, which includes The Ranch in Nunnelly, TN, Promises Treatment Centers, and SRI. He is a UCLA MSW graduate and trainee of Dr. Patrick Carnes. He is a contributing author of Mending A Shattered Heart: A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts (2011) and co-author (with Dr. Jennifer Schneider) of both Untangling the Web: Sex, Porn and Fantasy Addiction in the Internet Age (2006) and Cybersex Exposed: Simple Fantasy to Obsession (2001). He is a recent media expert to CNN, ESPN, Dr. Drew and The Today Show among many others.

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