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My 19-year-old brother is a cybersex addict

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Life Coach Adams (LCA): Hi. How are you today?

Twin Brother (TB): I am doing well. Thanks.

LCA: Good. How can I be of help?

TB: I believe that my brother may be hooked on porn.

LCA: You are worried that your brother may be a sex addict.

TB: Yes.{{more}}

LCA: Why do you think so?

TB: Well, I’m a college student and in March 2016 my laptop stopped working a few days before my research project was due. So, I borrowed my brother’s laptop. While I was working, I lost the webpage I was reading and tried to find it back in the computer history. I could not believe my eyes, but my brother had been very active on multiple porn sites, viewing videos, posting pictures, chatting with women. Nearly every website saved was porn!

LCA: You were horrified at what you saw.

TB: Yes, definitely and now I can’t stop thinking about it. This can’t be good for him. He’s a maniac, my own twin brother.

LCA: You feel angry and let down.

TB: Yes. I just can’t believe it. My mother raised us well without a father. She must be turning in her grave.

LCA: You believe that your mother would be disappointed if she were alive.

TB: She would be out of her mind. I can’t understand it.

LCA: How old is he?

TB: We are both 19. So, what is going on with him?

LCA: Your brother is suffering from sex addiction. An addiction refers to being physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance or activity. This means you are addicted when your body and brain need the substance or activity in order to function daily. Sex addiction means that he has an abnormal relationship with an experience that alters his mood.

TB: I thought you had to be with someone in order to be a sex addict. He has only been on his laptop. We live in the same house and I have never seen him talking to a girl, neither has he brought one home.

LCA: Your brother is addicted to cybersex, which means that he has been accessing online pornography on his laptop via audio, video, and social networking sites, etc and spending real time with a fantasy partner(s).

TB: I have noticed that he has been secretive and sneaky lately.

LCA: This is so, especially if you have also noted the following symptoms, as it relates to this activity: compulsive behaviour, loss of control, efforts to stop, loss of time, preoccupation, obligations neglected, continues despite consequences, escalation, social, occupational, recreational losses, restlessness, distress, anxiety, irritability and despair.

TB: What is causing him to do this?

LCA: Addiction occurs because, after a person does something that is satisfying, the brain produces a chemical called dopamine that travels through certain sections in the brain called the Reward Pathway, which creates pleasurable sensations (makes him feel good). The brain also gives a signal that the action promotes survival or reproduction, either directly or indirectly. Experiencing pleasure increases the likelihood that the individual will repeat the behaviour again. So, in essence, your brother is stuck on this behaviour because it is rewarding to him.

TB: How do we get him to stop? This is so disgusting!

LCA: I know that this is upsetting to you, but there is nothing that one can do, unless your brother is willing to make a change. It has to be his decision.

TB: Okay, but there has got to be something I can do to nudge him in the right direction.

LCA: Well, maybe you could befriend him; get close to him. Then, when the time is right, or if the subject comes up, let him know that you are aware of what is going on and find out from him how you can be of help. Avoid being judgmental. Sometimes individuals who practise this kind of behaviour may feel guilty and may be defensive.

TB: Okay. So, is he sick?

LCA: Sexual addiction is considered to be a mental disorder because the behaviour is abnormal. The good thing is that it can be treated.

TB: What is the treatment?

LCA: Your brother would need to see a psychotherapist who specializes in sex addiction and who can help him get to the root of the problem. There are also medications that can be prescribed that would help to block the over-stimulation of the pleasure centres in the brain. If he confides in you, you can also help him to set up a plan of action that helps him to avoid being at his computer alone. Get him connected to females in face-to-face contact. Also be his accountability partner; that is, he should report his daily activities to you, as well as when he has the urge to view porn, so that you can help to distract him.

TB: This sounds like a lot of work.

LCA: Yes. It requires trust, openness, and a lot of monitoring. This is why it needs to be his decision.

TB: Okay. I get it. He needs to decide to make the change before anyone else can help him.

LCA: That’s right.

TB: Thanks, Life Coach.

LCA: You are welcome. All the best, I hope he makes the change.

Need help with relationship and other problems? Ask DYNACII’s Life Coach, Dr Adams, a licensed clinical psychologist. Please note that all correspondence to the Life Coach is confidential and the cases presented are modified in order to maintain the anonymity of each writer. Dynamic Action Centre International Inc (DYNACII) is a non-governmental organization, committed to social and spiritual empowerment. For more information on DYNACII please visit: http://www.dynacii.com

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