The most common misconception about addiction is the reason for it. Consider, for example, sex, gambling, and alcohol addictions:
“Why did he hire a prostitute?”
“Why did she gamble her life’s savings?”
“Why did he drive drunk?”
“Why?” is the right question, but the answer is not easily forthcoming. The sex addict did not destroy his family because he wanted to try out sex with a prostitute. The gambling addict did not throw away her children’s college fund because she enjoys gambling. The alcoholic did not murder a pedestrian because he likes to drink. Simplistic answers lead to simplistic solutions like, “Stop drinking, gambling, and having sex with prostitutes.” This may surprise you, but the addict already thought of that. Simple solutions simply don’t work. They don’t work because they do not address the reasons for addictive behaviors; the underlying negative emotions, the stress points, the broken relationships, the childhood traumas, the internal conflicts, the betrayal, loss, disappointment, or chaos which reside in the addict’s soul.
When simple answers fail, as they are bound to, well-intended advice-givers may feel offended, indignant, even judgmental. Compassion goes out the window and onlookers smugly adopt the notion that the addict got the grief he deserved because he refused to heed their sound (and simplistic) advice. Those who intend to help without the proper knowledge to do so, soothe themselves with the uninformed (and arrogant) premise, “I tried to tell him the truth, but he’s too stubborn (and stupid) to listen.”
Most addicts I have met are people of integrity. They know and want to do the right thing. So, why would a man with integrity do what he knows is wrong? The answer is, he wouldn’t, unless he was addicted. There is a demonic stronghold in the addict’s life. It is not possible for him to “just say no” to his drug of choice. Why does a man of God commit a sexual sin when he knows it is morally wrong? Is it because he likes sex? No. We all like sex, but that is not the reason he gets in bed with porneia. The addict pursues his sex drug because he cannot NOT pursue it. He is an addict, who must now embark on the journey of self-discovery. He must find the real reasons for his addictive behavior.
Unless he is in utter denial, the typical guy addicted to sex easily grasps the idea that sex is a process drug he uses to medicate the pain of underlying negative emotions. Unfortunately, knowing the truth and living it are not the same thing. Before any man can live a moral life consistent with his convictions, he must seek to discover why he repeatedly chooses to do something different. He must learn for himself why he would sin sexually rather than trust Jesus. The path of recovery is the path of self-discovery. If recovery is to work, it must first address the reasons for a guy’s misbehavior. The journey, then, begins with the question “Why?” Every addict who intends to get better must ask himself, “Why do I act out sexually?”
“Why?” is the all-important inquiry, holding the key to our recovery. The question is simple enough, but the answer is anything but simple, and may take years to uncover. As Ted Roberts states in his seminal work on breaking the bonds of sexual addiction, “…our goal is getting healthy, not just stopping destructive behavior. And that will probably take three to five years, with the Holy Spirit doing miracles all along the way, as you cooperate.” Dr. Roberts further draws from his own experience, “My battle with sexual bondage wasn’t… simple. I went through nearly three and a half years of absolute war before I could see any daylight on the issue.” Recovery takes time, and it starts with the question, “Why?”
Oscar Wilde amusingly observed, “I can resist anything except temptation.” Most addicts feel the same, but they must learn to resist the lure of bad sex, at least for a few seconds, in order to ask themselves this critical question. When contemplating sin like internet porn use, masturbation with sexual fantasies, or objectifying a young woman by mentally undressing her, a man in active recovery will stop just long enough to inquire, “Why am I doing this?” Even if he chooses to sin, he made a bit of progress worth celebrating in that rare time of honest self-reflection. 423 Men teaches progress, not perfection. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress worth noting.
As a man engages the practice of asking “Why?” he may eventually pose to himself further questions the “Why?” question begs:
“What negative feelings am I trying to medicate with this addictive behavior?”
“Am I feeling sad, angry, lonely, bored, scared, hurt, disillusioned, stressed, or something else?”
“Why am I feeling sad, angry, lonely, bored, scared, hurt, disillusioned, stressed, or something else?”
“What responsible action could I possibly take to resolve the cause of my negative emotions?”
Asking the “Why?” question is beneficial in two ways. First, this self-reflective process slows the addict down. It may even interrupt the addictive cycle long enough for the man or woman to gather their mental faculties as the intensity of the temptation lessens. If the person comes to his or her senses during a moment of thoughtful self-probing, this addict earns a small victory which he or she can file away and later report to their sisters or brothers at the next 423 Women or 423 Men meeting. There the 423 member may be greeted with applause and high fives. A win like this is empowering and provides a foundation of success the recovering addict can build upon.
Secondly, the guy or gal gets to know him or herself. There is no better time than just prior to engaging in the addictive behavior to delve deeply into an exploration of self. When every part of a man or woman’s being cries out for their sex drug, a little self-denial will force them to feel the pain of withdrawal. This crisis becomes the perfect occasion for the addict to start the investigative process of discovering the personal issues which historically have been the driving force behind their addiction. This approach is the addict’s version of the biblical mandate, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4.7-8a NAS).
Unpleasant feelings exist for a reason, and it’s the addict’s job in recovery to find out why they exist. Asking "Why do I do what I do?" with a community of faithful brothers or sisters in recovery is the first step toward freedom from addiction.
 For a hilarious parody on this simplistic approach to counseling find Bob Newhart’s comedy sketch “Stop It” on YouTube from an old episode of Mad TV where he counsels a woman afraid of being “buried alive in a box.”
 Pure Desire, Ted Roberts, Revised & Updated, Regal, 2nd Edition, 2008, p. 75.
 Ibid, p. 85.
 From Oscar Wilde’s 1892 comedy in four acts entitled “Lady Windermere's Fan, A Play About a Good Woman.”