Addictions of all kinds such as Sex Addiction, are unhealthy methods to dealing with emotions.
It begins with a trigger that leads to increased tension, negative changes in thoughts, feelings, mood, and behaviors. Then the addict engages in high risk behaviors as a result of both internal and external conflicts. For the sex addict, the relapse to sex addiction begins in these risky situations. This might be acting out provocatively as sexual with others or exposure to pornography. After these risky behaviors start to take a toll on the addict, it influences the desire for change. They promise to themselves and others to change as a result of feelings remorse, guilt, and shame. Then they might reach the stage of proactive behaviors and positivity about recovery. If the addict is not prepared to face their triggers with healthy coping mechanisms, then they relapse and the cycle repeats in sex addiction.
Here are 9 tips to aid yourself or someone you know that might be struggling to overcome Sex Addiction to avoid relapse and maintain prevention:
1. Partnering – you need someone to walk through this process of recovery with you. This person should be an addict as well or at least has recovered from some type of addiction.
2. Accountability – similar to sponsor mentoring in a 12-step program, seek out support through family, friends, peer support groups, professional counseling, etc. Make sure that several people in your life are aware of your addiction, including your triggers and goals. This will help particularly in social situations when facing temptation.
3. Predicting – keep a record to track your behavior patterns, you can call this a “prediction journal” or any other name that fits your overall goals. The main point is for reflection upon progress versus regression.
4. Distractions – identify what works for you, everyone has preferred interests, passions, and self-soothing techniques. If you have trouble with creating effective distractions, then seek out advice. Always distract yourself away from any potential sexual exposure that could be triggering.
5. Exercising – this stomps out depression and acts as a form of antidepressant that stimulates endorphins “the happy cells” in your brain. These endorphins also get released when you feed into your addiction, therefore using exercise can replace it.
6. Securing – we all have items that we hold onto for consolation purposes. The sensations from attachment, security, and safety can be felt when we have our consoling devices. Whether it is a pet or a childhood keepsake, these items can be very helpful when fighting against an urge to relapse.
7. Helping – there is power in knowledge, try reading books about this topic such as “Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction” by Patrick Carnes, learn and teach others, become an expert in how to overcome sex addiction, you will notice a shift of hope with your struggles once you start helping someone else
8. Praying – whether you do or do not believe in a god or higher power, there is a sense of relief you will experience after crying or screaming out “help.” For those of you who are believers, then you know that prayer can be powerful. Ask others to pray with you when possible.
9. Seek Out Help – contact a mental health professional for individual and/or family counseling. Another great resource is support group where you can meet other people experiencing the same struggles with their addiction. Here are some support groups within the greater San Diego area: (SLAA) Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (619)819-7882, (SAA) Sexual Addicts Anonymous (760)736-0644, (SCA) Sexual Compulsive Anonymous (619) 819-7740
Just remember doing nothing is better than relapsing and giving into your addiction. It is completely normal to be stagnant at times. Take one day at a time and avoid looking too far ahead into the future. Try accepting the things you cannot change and focus on the things you can change.
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