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