No one wants to form an addiction. What starts as a way to cope with adverse feelings becomes a habit you can’t quit. Can you completely recover from sex addiction? Unfortunately, once you have an addiction, it’s part of your life forever. You must work to manage the symptoms, just like with any other mental illness. While you can’t completely recover from sex addiction or any other addiction, you can get and stay sober.
“Addiction fundamentally alters neural pathways in the brain which remain, even when behaviors cease,” said Nate Geyer, a Primary Therapist at Begin Again Institute. “Recovery offers individuals the ability to build new neural networks alongside those pathways which were historically implicated in addiction.”
Sex addiction recovery is a healing journey you take one step at a time. These steps will lead you to a more fulfilling and authentic life.
Issues that Hinder Sex Addiction Recovery
A person with sex addiction can’t stop sexual behaviors, even if they want to and regardless of the consequences. They’re consumed by their impulses and out of control of their behaviors.
When a person with sex addiction attempts to stop those behaviors, they face triggers that make them want to continue. A trigger is something in your environment that drives you to react. You complete an action because you anticipate a reward. There are things you respond to in your surroundings that lead you to seek sexual release. For example, going to a certain bar or using a particular app.
Matt Wenger, Clinical Director at Begin Again Institute, said stressors hinder a person’s recovery from sex addiction. He said these stressors can include:
- High-stress employment
- Financial concerns
- Unaddressed substance addictions
- Untreated trauma
- A lack of boundaries with unhealthy people
These factors are unlikely to just disappear, but you can eliminate some of them and learn how to manage others. First, you have to recognize and admit what they are.
“One must be willing to examine the good, the bad, and the ugly within themselves with compassion and empathy while realizing the need and desire to change,” Matt said.
Until you’re ready to accept yourself for who you are, flaws and all, lasting change is unlikely. Authenticity is critical for leading a life where you’re fully in control of your impulses.
Without a willingness and desire to change, recovery is unlikely.
Other factors that may hinder sex addiction recovery are:
- Withholding Information. You may hold back from your partner, therapist, or even yourself. This lack of transparency will prevent you from healing from your addiction. You can’t heal what you don’t acknowledge.
- Lack of Sincerity. You may say you’re ready to put your addiction behind you, but part of you is holding on. This lack of sincerity with yourself and others will harm your chances of recovery.
- Your View. Do you go from one relationship to the next, never staying long? You may be using temporary partners as an outlet for your sex addiction without realizing it. If this has been a consistent pattern for you, know that it isn’t a relationship problem. It’s a sex addiction problem.
- Misperception. You may feel like you don’t have an addiction. There’s no trauma you can pinpoint that led to your sex addiction. But these misperceptions prevent you from full recovery.
With proper education and healing, you can grow and overcome your sex addiction one healthy decision at a time.
Managing a Sex Addiction
While you can’t completely recover from sex addiction, you can learn how to manage it. By committing yourself to recovery and prioritizing it, you can control sex addiction.
Full recovery without professional help is unlikely. You’ll likely need help understanding the root cause of your addiction, healing from that trauma, then learning to manage the symptoms of your addiction. That means you’ll need to attend some type of treatment, whether it’s regular counseling, a recovery support group, in-patient treatment, or a combination of efforts. Regardless of the methods, you don’t have to cope with your addiction alone.
Consider what triggering behaviors and environmental factors may impede your recovery. Things like changing your route home so you don’t go by the massage parlor or removing provocative apps from your phone may help. Acknowledging these areas of concern about your addiction will only speed up your recovery.
Overall, be patient with yourself. Your addiction didn’t form overnight, and your recovery will require time and effort. You’re a human being, not a robot who can rewrite your code. Forgive yourself and see each decision as an opportunity for growth.
With behavioral addictions, relapse is challenging to avoid. Quality sex addiction programs will help prepare you to avoid relapse.
“Ongoing help is critical to avoiding relapse,” Matt said. “The best steps to take to avoid relapse are to engage in ongoing trauma therapy, maintain a rigorous recovery program, engage in authentic and supportive communities of other recovering addicts, and live a life of transparency.”
Nate agreed that “honesty with oneself and others and ongoing treatment is critical to sobriety.
It’s also vital to seek resources and support from the community.”
“Group work is critical to success in recovery,” he said. “I truly believe in this mantra: ‘We do addiction in isolation, but heal in groups.’”
If you’re worried about relapse, you can implement simple preventative measures, such as:
- Know your behavior and keep yourself honest
- Avoid or reduce triggers in your life
- Recognize your emotions, label them, and accept them
Get Help at Begin Again Institute
You can’t completely recover from sex addiction, but you can learn to control your impulses and ground yourself in the present moment. Each day is an opportunity for change, which means today is one of those days. Contact and visit Begin Again Institute when you’re ready to take steps to control sex addiction. We’re here to help.