Recovery from sexual addiction is possible. Recovery is a time-consuming process. Recovery and healing aren’t one-time occurrences. Sexual addiction takes many years to develop and will take time to recover genuine health. It’s similar to losing weight: it takes time to gain weight and time to lose it.
To overcome sexual addiction, many changes will need to be made. Giving up sexual fantasizing and flirting, changing one’s appearance, getting Internet filters, joining support groups, and entering therapy are all examples of changes.
For any addict, honesty is the foundation of recovery, and it is no different for the sexual addict. When secrets are kept, healing does not occur. Recovery will necessitate a willingness and commitment to go the extra mile. The amount of effort expended to recover is directly proportional to the quality of recovery. We should never underestimate the power of prayer in addiction recovery.
The Five Treatment Components
According to experts, there are five components to sexual addiction treatment and recovery. They are as follows:
- Saying goodbye to sexual behaviors
- Stopping rituals
- Saying goodbye to the fantasy
- Healing despair
- Healing shame.
Sex Addiction Quiz (Self-Assessment)
Do I have a sexual addiction? Sexual addiction, also known as hypersexual disorder, is characterized by obsessive sexual activity and a preoccupation with pornography or sexual thoughts, actions, and fantasies. Utilize this test to evaluate your actions.
1. Saying goodbye to sexual behaviors
Admitting that there is a problem is the first step toward breaking free from denial. After admitting the addiction, the next step is to stop engaging in addictive behaviors. A sex addict must stop all sexually acting out behaviors, just as an alcoholic must stop drinking alcohol. These behaviors can be overt, such as no more sex outside of marriage, or subtle, such as flirting. Again, honesty with oneself and others are essential.
Recovery support is essential because it is nearly impossible to stop these behaviors without the help of God and others. Addicts learn what healthy sexual behavior is and are not from other recovering addicts. Without assistance in addressing the underlying causes of sexual addiction, sexual addicts can only stop acting out temporarily, and only through an enormous amount of willpower. Willpower alone will not suffice in the long run. Addicts return to their addictive sexual behavior because they are unable to resist mental obsession and physical temptations. This cycle of control and failure to control is a hallmark of addiction.
There are numerous avenues for assistance and support. Support groups, recovery sponsors, accountability partners, in- or outpatient treatment programs, counseling, medical assistance, and Internet filters are all examples of recovery support.
2. Stopping rituals
Every addiction has a ritual. Rituals can range from thoughts to behaviors that lead to sexual acting out. Addicts must identify their personal rituals in order to break the addictive cycle before acting out. Rituals could include fantasizing about having sex with a coworker, imagining what your neighbor looks like naked, and planning some alone time with your computer so you can log in to porn sites uninterrupted.
3. Saying goodbye to the fantasy
Sexual fantasy is at the heart of sexual addiction and can trigger sexual stimulation on its own. Fantasy has a powerful hold on the mind, which does not respond to “stop” commands. The more effort made to avoid fantasizing, the more powerful the fantasy becomes. So, how does a sex addict stop fantasizing about sex? First, recognize that fantasies exist for a reason: they provide emotional escape and stress relief. If an addict wants to stop fantasizing, they must first figure out why they need to “escape.”
Pic: Sex Addiction
4. Healing despair
Most sex addicts believe they are beyond redemption, that their sexual behavior is so heinous that forgiveness is out of the question. Self-hatred leads to despair and, in extreme cases, suicide. The path to despair is one of isolation, but the path to recovery is one of safety and love. This means that the sex addict must choose between staying in hiding and coming out.
Sexual acting out deepens despair, driving an addict deeper into isolation and shame. It appears to be counterintuitive, but it is a spiritual truth. This is why sex addict support groups are so important. When a sex addict learns that others have traveled the same path and have begun to heal despair fades, and hope returns.
5. Healing shame
There is both healthy and unhealthy shame. Healthy shame occurs when I have done something wrong, such as lying, and am ashamed of it. My shame tells me that I have sinned and that I must deal with it through confession and repentance.
When I have done something wrong and feel like a bad person, I experience unhealthy shame. Unhealthy shame tells me I’m worthless and useless. Healthy shame judges my behavior, not my person, as right or wrong. Unhealthy shame attacks my worth as a person. I may have done something wrong, but that does not imply that I am a bad person.