Whenever people give in to the allure of irresponsible sexual behavior and alcohol, it usually leads them to a slippery slope path to self-destruction. James Franco talks about his experience as a sex and alcohol addict and how he got his life back after his very public downfall.
James Franco, born James Edward Franco, is an American actor and filmmaker known for starring in numerous films, including Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, between 2002 and 2007. Viewed as a sex symbol, Franco was named the Sexiest Man alive in 2009 by Salon.
“When I was a teenager I was I was addicted to alcohol and um got in a lot of trouble and got sober when I was 17.”
Like many other alcohol addicts, James became an addict at a young age.
“When I was young it was like I was just shy I just didn’t know how to get along in the world I didn’t know how to talk to people and alcohol was like the best solution for that.”
While he may have gotten sober at 17, he soon got into the next high: addiction to validation and success, which filled the space left by alcohol.
“Once I couldn’t use alcohol to sort of fill that hole it was like oh success attention this is great and so in a weird way I got addicted to validation I guess or success or whatever that is.”
Franco details his addiction, stating how sexual addiction made him stay away from alcohol. This goes to show just how destructive addiction can be when not addressed in the right ways.
It is common for most addicts to experience what is commonly known as cross-addiction, where one form of addiction is swapped for another as a coping mechanism. The biggest danger of this behavior is that it puts the individual at a higher possibility of relapsing over and over.
When cross-addiction occurs, the addict can become compulsively involved in the new activity to the detriment of their physical or mental well-being.
The reason most addicts seem stuck in the addiction rut is because they try to fix the addiction from a superficial level.
“I got hooked on [sex] for 20 more years, and the insidious part of that is that I stayed sober from alcohol all that time.”
Most people do not dig deeper to find the root cause of the addiction. Untreated mental, emotional or physical issues create a pattern of survival, which leads to developing coping mechanisms. For most people, stimulants are the best way to overcome hard feelings.
Alcohol, sex, and narcotics activate the pleasure center of the brain. When one can no longer indulge in these vices, replacement addiction allows them to use what they would see as a less destructive behavior to create the same feeling they got from drugs.
What can be done?
The only sure way of treating addiction replacement is by treating the underlying causes of the compulsive behavior through therapy.
Therapy can come in many forms, including seeing an actual therapist, joining a support group for specific addictions, or self-help.
For Franco, his healing journey started with a book.
“My sister-in-law Iris Torres given me a book on sex love addiction. When I read this book, it hit me like a bullet. I was like oh my God that’s me, and at that point, I had inklings like okay maybe this is an issue.”
The only sure way to stop any form of addiction is by addressing unconscious triggers.
If you are a man going through sex & alcohol addiction, or stuck in replacement addiction, joining a support group like Mensgroup can be a valuable addition to conventional therapy. In Mensgroup, men regularly meet online to discuss and offer support for different issues affecting men, including addiction.