The Complete Sex Addiction Recovery Guide

The Complete Sex Addiction Recovery Guide
May 25, 2021

Addiction can be all-consuming and a subject of great shame. Hiding destructive behavior is exhausting. However, getting help can be life-changing. Therapies to help a sex addict recover are gentle, and focus on healing, and learning how to move forward with a healthy mind, body, and soul.

Through a regimented program of therapies, and treatments, a sex addict can heal and change. Sex addiction differs from other addictions in that the addiction shows no physical signs. Besides, sex addiction often goes undiagnosed and untreated. The stigma surrounding sex and sex addiction makes it a tricky subject to discuss openly. 

The most successful recovery programs focus on the person as a whole, rather than just treating the addiction. Recovery takes dedication and courage. An encouraging, loving support system can make the recovery process easier to endure.

What is Sex Addiction?

First off, let’s talk about addiction itself. A complex brain disease that is often paired with another issue to create a dual diagnosis. The compulsive use, or engagement in something, despite the outcome. The outcome is usually harmful. 

Typically when we think about addiction, we think about substance abuse. However, the word addiction does not solely apply to substance abuse. It can also mean addiction to action or sensation. 

Sex addiction is a dependency on pornography, masturbation, sex workers, and having multiple partners. It is the addiction to the sensation and the pleasure that you receive through the act of sex with yourself or with a partner(s). 

It is similar to substance addictions because you are using something outside of your body to find pleasure. Unlike substance abuse, there is no physical way to notice the addiction.

Sex addiction is complicated and is labeled as several different disorders, such as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), or Bipolar Disorder. Each case of sex addiction is unique. Steps Recovery Center recognizes that the mind, body, and spirit are all connected. To treat the person, you must treat all 3 of the branches of the human being. 

This behavior is destructive to the individual and to those in their life. Realizing that you are addicted is the first step; getting the help that you need is the next step. Recovery is not something that comes instantly. Recovery takes time, and it also takes effort. You have to commit yourself to get better.

The toughest step can be to talk about it, remove the stigma surrounding sex, and the addition that can be formed to it.

The struggle that you’re in today is developing into the strength that you need tomorrow. -Steps Recovery Center

Stages of Recovery/Change

Where does recovery start, and where does it end? Technically, recovery never ends. The Stages of Change model is used in recovery to demonstrate the timeline/cycle that an addict goes through.

  1. Precontemplation: Denial. Does not see a problem with their behavior or actions.
  2. Contemplation: First thoughts of desire to change behavior occur. Becoming more open to talking about it, and admitting there is a problem.
  3. Preparation: The first steps of action are taken to get ready for change. Preparation can be physical, mental, and emotional. Also, gathering a support system to prepare for the challenging process of recovery.
  4. Action: Therapy, making changes, seeing/feeling results happening. The main focus of an addiction recovery program.
  5. Maintenance: Continuation of action and progress. Maintenance can be the most challenging step for some addicts. The excitement of starting recovery has faded away, and now you are faced with maintaining your new reality while dealing with old triggers resurfacing.
  6. Relapse: Facing the possibility of relapse, and making a prevention plan is part of the recovery process. Triggers are inevitably going to present themselves, planning for your course of action will make all the difference in the outcome. Having a plan set gives you the power to control the situation, should it arise.

Holistic Treatments 

Often holistic treatments can be seen as alternative treatments. In western medicine, yoga and meditation probably would not be recommended by a general practitioner of medicine. These alternative treatments focus on treating the body as a whole instead of treating specifically targeted symptoms.

  • Yoga: Stress-reducing yoga practice helps in recovery by increasing your self-awareness, and finding your strength and life balance.
  • Meditation: Quieting the mind with meditation opens a connection to the deeper/higher self.
  • Fitness: Though fitness isn’t thought of as a holistic treatment, body movement, and physical exercise is a natural way to take care of the body and mind.

These practices are about getting in touch with a deeper part of yourself and controlling your feelings instead of letting them dictate your actions. 

Reiki Therapy 

Continuing with the holistic theme, here. Reiki (ray-key) is a Japanese energy healing modality, which is often done without the need for touch, or very light touch is used. The meaning of the word Reiki comes from two Japanese words. Rei, meaning universal, and Ki, meaning life force.

Reiki is a gentle treatment that can have powerful effects. Something challenging to put into words, yet easily felt. A Reiki session is usually performed in a quiet setting to enhance the relaxing effect. 

The practitioner will first do an intake in which you will be asked a series of questions that help them better understand what you are going through. The practitioner may have you sit, or lie down, and close your eyes as they scan your body, and listen to your body as to which areas they should focus on to best help.

During a Reiki session, your body’s natural healing ability will be activated; the practitioner is there to facilitate and assist in this activation. Your body knows how to heal itself; sometimes, it just needs a helping hand. Healing can be anything from physical, to emotional, or any combination in between. 

Walking away from a Reiki session will feel like you are walking on a cloud.

Reiki Prayer

Just for today, I will not worry.

Just for today, I will not be angry.

Just for today, I will be grateful

Just for today, I will do my work honestly.

Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is classified as a form of psychotherapy or talk therapy. However, it is seen as different from traditional psychotherapy in that the therapist and patient work together to address and manage addictions.

Things that CBT teaches recovering addicts:

  • Mood management
  • Coping skills
  • Identifying triggers
  • Eliminating false beliefs and insecurities

CBT techniques that are effective with addiction treatment are:

  • Interviewing
  • Behavioral experiments
  • Motivational
  • Relapse Prevention
  • Contingency management strategies

Exercise Therapy Program

Your brain and body need to work together, like a machine. An exercise program can support both brain and body function to produce optimal performance. 

Exercise is an integral part of a healthy life and is helpful when treating addiction. Benefits of using physical exercise as part of a successful sex addiction recovery program:

  • Proper body function: Exercise therapy strengthens not only the muscles, but also the body systems such as cardiovascular, and circulatory systems. 
  • Chemical production: Exercise therapy helps release endorphins, some of which are also released during sex. For a recovering addict, physical exercise can give them that same sensation. Mood-boosting chemical production is increased during exercise, making the recovery process more enjoyable.
  • Mental health: Exercise therapy decreases stress, promotes better sleep, and eases depression/anxiety. This is important during the recovery process, which can be challenging. More stable mental health will make recovery easier to handle.

An active lifestyle will not only help through the recovery process, but it will also acclimate the person to living healthier, encouraging them to continue the new ways. Check out more ways exercise can make a difference in mental and physical health.

Individual Therapy

One-on-one therapy sessions with a therapist have significant results over those who do not see a therapist; they understand what sex addiction is and how to help patients get on a healthy road to full recovery.

Self-realization and forgiveness go hand in hand when it comes to successful therapy. Coming to terms with what you have done in the past, and the person that you once were can be painful to go through. 

It can take a few sessions for the therapist to get a full history of a patient. Repeat sessions can also help break through the many layers that make up our unique issues. Homework may be assigned so that you can continue the recovery process on your own time.

Family Therapy 

Family can be a recovering sex addict’s biggest support system. Bringing them in for a family group therapy session surrounds the addict with loved ones in a safe environment. Family therapy may be done at a facility or in the comfort of the family home. 

Family Therapy is an opportunity for the entire support group to receive therapy, as well. Addiction doesn’t just affect the addict. There are often loved ones and others that are affected, as well. For a sex addict, this could be a partner or spouse that has been hurt by your actions. It could also be a friend or family member that has been affected. 

More often than not, there is more than one person that we can add to our list of people that were affected by our past actions. A chance to talk everything out with the therapist acting as a sort of mediator will facilitate a smooth session.

Other Types of Therapy

What might be intimidating for some, group therapy is an important part of recovery. In group therapy, you will see that you are not alone and that it is ok to talk to others. The dynamics of Group Therapy works well with issues such as:

  • Putting issues into perspective: Listening to others speak about their experience can help an addict put their problems into perspective, which they could not previously recognize.
  • Diversity: In group therapy, the diversity of age, gender, and race can paint a different picture for each individual.
  • Promotes social skills: Speaking, and sharing personal issues with strangers can teach valuable social skills, and encourage healing through sharing.

Nutritional Therapy

Diet is more important than we realize. Eating is feeding your body fuel to survive, and thrive. The approach and mindset about food and nutrition is the foundation of good health. In Nutritional Therapy, the program blends knowledge about nutrition, and how to adapt healthy foods to fit your lifestyle.

For recovering addicts, exploration through new foods, and exciting tastes can fill the void that their addiction left. Sparking interest in self-care with a healthy diet encourages a recovering addict to stick to the new routine, resulting in a better life.

Stress Management

Living with addiction is very stressful. Hiding your addiction and suffering from it are not easy on the nerves. Recovery brings with it a lot of change. And, change in itself can be stressful. Add all of that to the everyday stress that we face, and it could be overwhelming.

Stress Management Therapy teaches addicts how to deal with the overwhelming amount of stress that they can go through. Ignoring stress can result in serious mental health issues and even physical illness. Stress is a factor in over 90% of illnesses. 

Thought processes, and physical actions will shift while in recovery. Something as simple as your mental attitude can affect your stress level. A holistic approach to stress management includes:

  • Journaling: Writing (or typing) your thoughts and feelings is a way to get it out, yet keep it to yourself. 
  • Being in nature: Taking off your shoes is the simplest way to make a quick connection to the earth. And, soaking up the vitamin D from the sun is food for the soul. Grounding, and connecting with nature is therapeutic.
  • Social media fasting: Letting go of addiction includes our constant connection to the internet. A device detox will add to the reset that your being is going through.
  • Revisiting your diet: Managing stress can be helped with a healthy diet. Food is medicine.

Learning how to manage stress can give you control and regain a sense of power over your life. Addicts often feel like they do not have control, and that can be detrimental to self-esteem. 

Trauma Therapy

Everyone has gone through some form of trauma in their life. For some, it manifests into a disorder, like an addiction. When trauma is involved, individual, or group trauma therapy is adapted to the comfort level, and needs of the patient, and is essential to healing.

Trauma Therapy works with traumas, such as:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)
  • Acute Stress Disorders (ASD)
  • Childhood Trauma Disorders
  • Dissociative Disorders
  • Adjustment Disorders 

Trauma therapy works to get to the root cause of the addiction and guides the patient through healing by talking about past traumas. 

A Fresh Start

For many, recovery is a fresh start at a new life. This means a change in almost every area of life from friends to habits, to your diet. Even your way of thinking and manner in which you carry yourself. 

Some changes will come because it is a natural part of recovery to change your surroundings. Other changes will happen because it is helpful to remove triggers. Triggers can be anything from sights to sounds to smells. Once you realize what your triggers are, this step of the process becomes easier, and could even happen without making a move.

New Positive Behaviors 

Well-rounded addiction treatment opens up possibilities to find healthy new habits. Taking care of yourself through therapy, nutrition, and exercise may be fulfilling enough, or you may wish to find a new hobby. 

Finding joy in your life can come from unexpected places, so it is recommended to keep an open mind and try new things. Start small. Perhaps find a new TV series to watch. One that is in alignment with your new direction in life. Evolving into the new, you will be a well-rounded treatment that touches on all areas of your life.

With finding a new positive behavior, you can also find a new purpose. Walking dogs at the local animal shelter, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen are great ways to use your time to give back to your community. And that can be incredibly therapeutic.

Set yourself up for success by choosing new behaviors that will avoid your triggers as much as possible.

Relapse Prevention

Putting in all this time and effort into getting better, the last thing that a recovered addict wants is to relapse. Finding yourself participating in old bad habits can feel like you have lost the control that was regained, and leave you feeling ashamed.

Keeping a continued support system in place will give you somewhere to turn when you are feeling tempted, or if you just need advice. Family members and friends are great support systems because they love you and care about you. Support systems of fellow recovering addicts are helpful because they can relate to you and your issues.

Revisiting the recovery program steps will remind us how we got this far and take it back to the basics, which is grounding.

Final Thoughts

We are all human, and we all have our faults. It is how we move forward that matters. Dedication to a recovery program is something that your future self will be thankful for. And something that you can be proud of. 
Having patience with yourself throughout sex addiction treatment is a part os being kind to yourself. Life doesn’t get easier; you must learn how to handle it better and we can help. When you contact Steps Recovery Center, we will go over our recovery process and customize an addiction treatment plan tailored for you.

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