If you or someone you love is dealing with the aftermath of a sex addition, you should know that this is something that you can recover from. An addiction to sex is just as serious as an addiction to any kind of controlled substance, and The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy tells us that,
Some might not think sex can be addictive because there are no chemicals involved. However, the body produces many hormones and neurotransmitters during sex that produce the same chemical “high” as drugs or alcohol.
There are many treatment options available, and in addition to seeking out therapy and joining a local support group, there are things that you need to do for yourself in order to get your life back. To take charge of your own recovery and put a life of addition behind you, there are a few steps that will help you on your journey.
The First Step
Before you can move on or get past any of your recovery hang-ups, the first step is admitting you have a problem. You have to admit to yourself that your life has become unmanageable, and that your lust has gotten out of control. If you are trying to change to make someone else happy, it will never work. You have to be willing to start your recovery for yourself, and be willing to make the changes necessary. John O’Neill, LCSW, LCDC, CAS, CART, a certified addiction counselor at the Menninger Clinic in Houston, states,
Sex addicts, in other words, are not simply people who crave lots of sex. Instead, they have underlying problems — stress, anxiety, depression, shame — that drive their often risky sexual behavior. ‘Those are some of the core issues that you start to see when you treat someone with sex addiction.
Be Prepared and Set Goals
Just like with any addiction, recovering from a sex addiction is no small undertaking, and you need to make sure that you are ready and prepared for the recovery process. Like we said earlier, you have to be ready to make a change for the right reasons. And while practically anyone can recover from a sexual addiction, those who truly are ready, willing, and eager to recover experience a much higher success rate than those who are pressured or unwilling. So change for one person only, you!
Setting goals can be a very beneficial tool along the way, so think about what you hope to accomplish in the next day, week, month, year, and even 5 or 10 years in the future. The road to recovery is long and hard, so plan on working towards your goals for quite some time. Even after your recovery period ends, you will still have to make choices on a daily basis that will be either helpful or harmful to your life. Dealing with an addiction is not something that is cured overnight, and then no longer dealt with. It takes a lot of work and persistence.
Avoid the People, Places and Things That Trigger Your Addiction
While in recovery, and for quite some time after, you will need to steer clear of places where you feel the urge for sexually addictive behavior. Find a new place to hang out, and you may even have to find new friends to be around. If you think that a certain friend or associate is no good for your recovery, then chances are you’re right, and you would be better off breaking ties now. Overcoming addiction is hard enough, and it is even more difficult when there are triggers all around you. Avoiding the things that ‘set you off’ will make the transition from sex addiction to recovery much smoother.
One thing that can be very important to your recovery is to make amends. Create a list of all the people you have known in the past that you have harmed because of your addiction, and be willing to set things right with them. This task can seem daunting or even overwhelming at first, but it is very important to your recovery process. You have to know that your addiction has hurt people and a crucial step towards moving forward is to realize the impact of your actions, and try your best to make it right with the people you have hurt. It’s normal to feel guilty, but you should be willing to ask for forgiveness, even if you think people may not be ready to give it. When on this road to finding forgiveness, don’t overlook the important act of forgiving yourself. No one is perfect, and you are trying to do your best to change.
Look for a Strong Support System, and Make Better Decisions
We learn from Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards that,
Many people with a sexual addiction benefit from the support and structure of recovery groups like Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous. Professionals often use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help individuals with sex addiction learn their individual triggers for sexually destructive (acting out) behaviors…
While you are going through recovery, and for some time afterwards, you will need to continue to evaluate your life choices, and make adjustments as necessary. Just like someone who is trying to maintain their weight, you are trying to maintain your better way of life, and your sobriety. If you feel like your recovery is on shaky ground, take a step back and remedy the situation as soon as possible before you experience a relapse. Seek out a balance of maintaining your recovery and living your own life, but be prepared to account for any hiccups along the way.
Surround yourself with a solid support network of people that have been through the same things you have, and friends and family that are ready to support you. Join a group with other sex addicts so you can have an outlet to talk about your feelings and problems without feeling judged. You can find these meetings both in your local area, and online, so if you can’t make it to a meeting, you can still find someone to talk to.