How to Gain Control & End the Suffering
Overcoming sex addiction can feel like jumping off of a cliff into a raging sea. Even when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that taking the leap can help you get your life back. Overcoming any addiction takes blood, sweat, and tears; but the only thing you need to do right now is take the first tiny step.
But first, a few things you must remember before we proceed:
- You are not defined by your addiction.
- You are not the sum of your darkest moments.
- You are worthy of love.
- Your worth is inherent.
- There is always hope.
Addiction work is hard. But this is your life. (Here are 3 more reasons to defeat your addiction). Unlike alcohol or drug addictions, sex addiction is unique since you don’t want to completely remove sex from your life. Healthy sexuality is one of life’s great joys, but the road back to that healthy place takes help, time, and boundaries. You can do this.
Here’s where you start...
Overcoming sex addiction starts with one tiny step: Get help.
Don’t wait until tomorrow; take the first step on the path toward freedom from addiction right now. Recovery will be a journey, but you can start that journey today.
Reach out for help from an expert who cares. You can speak to an experienced counselor at Neulia today, completely confidentially. Asking for help is a huge leap forward in your recovery.
10 Options for Sex Addiction Recovery
Everyone’s recovery from sex addiction looks different. There is no perfect order of steps to find healing. Having expert help on your side is key, but here are some other critical components of addiction recovery to support you on your journey:
1. Establish healthy boundaries.
As you go through counseling and treatment, you will start to recognize your addictive triggers. Once you know what they are, put up strong boundaries to protect your heart and mind against relapse. For example:
- Put accountability software on your computer.
- Make your smartphone a “dumb phone” by disabling data and wifi and deleting triggering apps.
- Don’t physically go to places where you’ve been triggered in the past.
- If you have a partner, commit to checking in with them regularly to help rebuild trust.
- Commit to transparency and accountability. Allow your partner to see bank statements, credit card statements, internet browsing history, text messages, emails, etc. “Avoid private, personal email accounts that no one knows about or has access to. We have a personal email account and a ministry email account. My husband and assistant have free access to either of these accounts anytime, providing built-in accountability.” - Shannon Ethridge
2. Get expert recovery help
Neulia offers you a compassionate, effective, comprehensive suite of services to get you where you want to go. Call us at 925-932-0201 if you have any questions. We are here to help.
One-on-one sessions are transformative, intense, and can change your life forever. Whether it’s in-person, on the phone, or on Skype, expect to change your mind and learn tools to use right now to eliminate your addiction.
With one-on-one counseling, you can get results like you would going to a treatment center without having to leave your regular life.
When you sign up for one-on-one sessions with Neulia you receive:
- Weekly sessions with one of our team members
- Homework and email correspondence between sessions
- Daily “bookending” to drive sobriety
- An “Emergency Trigger 911” number to call if you are about to act out
Group-Style Sessions & Counseling for Men. Group counseling is an essential tool in sexual addiction recovery as it allows you to work with others to see that your problem is not just unique to you. It also enables you to learn about what works and what doesn’t from others’ experiences, and draw on others’ strengths and hopes. Identify compulsive patterns that keep you stuck and learn the tools to convert the behavior into something a lot more beneficial. Learn more
Daniel Brown, Director of the Rapid Results Program
Are you looking for something you can do on your own? Check out our video course (watch the first two sessions for free).
3. Start a prediction journal.
A Prediction Journal is a place where you can keep a record of triggers and relapses. This record is not meant to be discouraging, but to make you aware of circumstances, situations, places, and people that could potentially cause you to relapse.
Marriage and Family Therapist Mary Kay Cocharo shares that “awareness of our motivation to perform certain behaviors is key, particularly when faced with an addiction. Identifying those triggers that precede our behavior then is the first step to determining our motivation. When do we engage in this certain behavior? When we are vulnerable or feeling unloved or unappreciated by someone significant in our lives? Is it when we are feeling 'blue' or as if we 'deserve' to act a certain way because life is just too short not to do what we want?”
You can utilize your Prediction Journal as a guardrail to set boundaries for yourself in the future.
4. Cultivate healthy coping mechanisms.
Learning skills to cope and self-soothe is an important part of your toolbox for recovery. The key is to make sure your coping mechanisms are (relatively) healthy ones.
- Get enough sleep. (7-9 hours a night for most people.)
- Eat balanced foods throughout the day.
- Binge-watch a great show.
- Get outside.
- Doodle in some adult coloring books.
- Rest your nervous system by playing with playdough or silly putty.
5. Join a 12 step support group.
Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) is a free, international organization that promotes community and recovery through support groups. “SAA’s primary purpose is to stop our addictive sexual behavior and to help others recover from sexual addiction. Recovery was possible for most of us only when we accepted the fact that we were powerless over our addictive sexual behavior and that we were incapable of changing without help from outside ourselves. Many of us came to this realization when we started attending SAA meetings. In that setting, we heard stories similar to ours and realized that recovery from our malady was possible. We learned through the SAA Fellowship that we were not hopelessly defective.” Attending Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings and working through the 12 Steps is a positive, healthy step on your road to recovery. Find a group in your area.
A NOTE FROM GEORGE ON “S” GROUPS
“Thirty years ago I staggered into a Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) meeting in Walnut Creek, California. I had my choice of Sexaholics Anonymous (SA), Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), or SLAA. I chose SLAA because it was local and there were women in attendance. (I wanted to see how my behavior impacted women). I found the “S” groups really useful but needed more. That’s why I went back to graduate school, found the missing link, became fully sober, started my counseling practice and wrote my book. I still go to “S” meetings to speak and share my message to those who still suffer.”
6. Tell people you trust about your addiction.
While it may not be wise to broadcast your struggles all over social media, choosing a few safe people, (or even just one), to open up to about your struggles can be extremely healing. Talk to your partner. Talk to a trusted (same gender) friend or family member. Talk to a faith leader in your life. This is perhaps the most frightening step of all, but fear and shame dissolve in the bright light of honesty. Be brave. You’ve got this.
7. Get a dopamine hit.
No, we’re not talking about taking drugs! But when you are recovering from any addiction, expecially sex addiction, relapses can be triggered by your brain looking for a “dopamine” hit. Dopamine is your brain’s natural feel-good chemical. It’s central to your mind’s reward system. When you do something that makes you feel good, you’re getting a dopamine hit. Here are some ways to trick your brain into thinking it’s getting what it wants without a relapse:
- Eat something carby and/or sugary.
- Cultivate a creative hobby. “For us writers, painters, sculptors, poets, singers, dancers, and other artists, we can identify with this. When we’re in creative mode, we can become hyper-focused. As a result, we can enter a state called flow. Dopamine is the brain chemical that allows us to achieve this state. The lesson is this: take up a hobby or activity in which you actually create something tangible. Try something like arts, crafts, auto repair, drawing, photography, or something else that sounds interesting.” -Collective Evolution
- Exercise regularly.
- Laugh really hard.
- Listen to great music. “Do you ever wonder why music makes you happy? The reason for this is that listening to music increases dopamine levels. In fact, scientists say that listening to music has the same effect as eating our favorite foods or watching our favorite T.V. show.” -Collective Evolution
- Have a caffeinated drink.
- Complete a checklist. “Dopamine increases when we are organized and finish tasks – regardless if the task is small or large. So, don’t allow your brain to worry about things that need to be done. Instead, write these tasks down and then check them off one at a time. It’s been shown that it’s more satisfying to the brain’s dopamine levels when we physically check something off of our to-do list.” -Collective Evolution
8. Make a list of what makes you feel secure.
Feelings of safety and security are a safeguard against addiction. What makes you feel secure? It could be:
- A pet
- Your partner
- A blanket or stuffed animal
- Your home
- Sentimental items
Recognize your security items/people/animals and utilize those feelings of safety to empower yourself.
9. Be mindful of new behaviors, both positive and negative.
Mindfulness is a critical ingredient in your recovery. Marriage and Family Therapist Mary Kay Cocharo states: “Mindfulness can take many forms including:
- Education about what constitutes a healthy sexual relationship
- Individual counseling and/or marriage and family therapy
- A support system like Sex Addicts Anonymous
- Confiding in those close to you who care about your success
- Following religiously, the repetitive tasks that you’ll determine are necessary for success, even in the face of everyday struggles”
10. Realize that you are not defined by your addiction.
Sex addiction, like any addiction, can wreak havoc on so many areas of your life. It’s easy to give yourself over to feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness. But please, hear this:
You are not defined by your darkest hour.
Your worth is inherent and cannot be altered by anything you do or don’t do.
There is always hope.
You are not alone.