Like any addiction, a sexual addiction is not easy to get rid of. It changes the way someone thinks, acts, and reacts, and the addiction will change that person forever. Also not unlike other addictions, the road to getting “sober” for the sex addict can make a person stronger than they were before and fill them with the power and self-respect they need, such is the belief of an organization called Ready 4 Change. Staying sober once you get there is the last tough part of getting clean, so here are some healthy habits and lifestyle changes for the reformed sex addict.
It is always good to have someone who cares about you by your side through the ups and downs, no matter who that someone is. When going through hard times, you need a person to help you back up. When going through the good times, it is nice to have someone to enjoy it or share it with. When someone wants to accomplish a goal, it is just as important to have a friendly face at his/her side through that as well. An accountability partner can be the person who gives you that last push to get you to achieve your goal. Having a partner to keep you honest while recovering from an addiction is almost necessary. A person who knows exactly what your weak points are can be the strength you don’t have to help you resist the temptation to give in. While, yes, it can be extremely tough to open up to someone about a sexual addiction, it will be worth it when you’re close to breaking a clean streak and in need of someone to talk you out of it.
Identifying Emotions and Knowing Your Limits
Oftentimes, emotions will trigger the problem behavior(s) in addicts, and this can be the easiest way for someone to fall back into the addiction. Because strong emotions and mental turmoil like depression, anxiety, and loneliness can act as triggers for the addict, they are definitely something to watch out for. The problem behaviors of a sexual addiction are usually a way to cope with those emotions. By finding alternate ways to handle anxiety, depression, and loneliness, it can become increasingly easier to resist the temptation to succumb to the urges brought on by the addiction.
In dealing with depression and anxiety, there are many treatments. While medications for these can be greatly beneficial, even doing things like going to counseling/therapy, exercising, meditating, or talking to friends and family can also help with these mental health issues. As mentioned above, having someone to keep you accountable can make all the difference in maintaining sobriety as well as helping with feelings of loneliness. The common triggers aren’t going to be everyone’s triggers, thus it is important to know what makes you want to give in. Sex addiction covers many categories of behaviors, habits, and preferences. Because of that, there can be specific-to-you triggers and temptations (outside of emotions and mental health problems) that must also be taken seriously. These can be images, sounds, people, etc., so it is important to be aware of the ones that can act as triggers for you.
Lastly, recovering and former addicts should always remember that they are only human. It is vital that those who are healing as well as those who have been clean for years forgive themselves when they slip. The harder you are on yourself, the more discouraged you become and the easier it is to forget why you started the journey to sobriety to begin with. Make it a habit of reminding yourself of the reasons you are attempting to beat the addiction. Encourage, be encouraged by others, and stay strong. The road to healing isn’t supposed to be easy. It is a challenge and one that can be overcome.