Do you remember the old ‘whac-a-mole’ arcade games. I don’t know if they are around anymore. It was a frustrating game. You never knew where the next mole would pop up. By the time you could swat one with the big, foam mallet the next one would jolt out on the other side. When one went away another would show up and along the way you would see each one more than once.
So it can be with addictions.
It is very common for someone to get help with one addiction, only to see another one pop up. Sometimes the original one resurfaces again too. I regularly hear people struggling with sexual addiction say they’ve found freedom from drugs and alcohol, but can’t seem to beat this one. The truth is they’ve found a way to switch addictions; they haven’t found freedom. When one unhealthy way of medicating and coping with life is averted a new one pops up. Drugs give way to alcohol. Alcohol gives way to coffee and cigarettes. Sex gives way to food. Food gives way to gym-aholism. You get the picture. It even happens within sex addiction itself. A guy will give up acting out with prostitutes but will begin going to strip clubs. He’ll give up porn but trade it for sex with his wife. Then she becomes his mistress. He might give up pornographic movies but take up sexual chatrooms. Unfortunately, when we ping-pong through addictions we never actually get the healing we need and long for.
If you find yourself playing addiction whac-a-mole it’s time for real help. It is time to dig in and figure out what you’re running from, why you cope in these ways and what you’re really searching for. It may be time to take more action than just slapping an internet filter on your computer. You may need to plug in with a counselor specialized in dealing with sexual addiction. It might be time to attend the EMB workshop. Maybe you need to confess your addictions to your spouse. Or to Jesus.
Take a step in the right direction today. Walk away from the game. Get out of the arcade.