At Begin Again Institute, we see our patients literally fight for their lives in their early days of sobriety. By the time they walk through our doors, most of our patients have had their lives, relationships and careers nearly destroyed by sex addiction. Once they’ve admitted they need help and are working either one on one with a counselor or in a group, addicts learn how to live free from addiction. But it takes time. So in the early days of recovery simple practices of self-care are incredibly important and can increase an addict’s chances of staying sober. H.A.L.T. is an old recovery acronym for “hungry, angry, lonely or tired” and it’s a fantastic tool for newly sober people. Alcoholics, drugs addicts and yes, sex addicts are often told to “halt!” in the early stages of recovery- to slow down and check on their well-being. Skipping a meal or not getting enough sleep can often lead an addict down the road to relapse. Why? Blame it on your brain. Sexual impulses can be triggered by basic physiological influences. If self-care has been neglected, an addict’s defenses are down and slipping back into old behavior can be really easy. However, when an addict in recovery is taking care of themselves by eating healthy meals, getting a restful night’s sleep and sharing emotions when they don’t feel good, their chances of combating impulses is greatly improved. Just the simple act of pausing throughout the day to make sure they’re taking care of themselves also helps addicts slowly rebuild their self-image. “H.A.L.T” reminds sex addicts that sustenance, rest, companionship and emotional balance are crucial to keep from falling into unhealthy behaviors that can result in dire, unintended consequences. Healthy new habits like walking, journaling, reading or meditation are also good supplements to a recovery program. Beyond the basics like eating, sleeping, and good emotional health, positive activities can help fill the void left by an addiction. Finding new things to enjoy and rediscovering old talents and passions can make recovery a lot more fun. Also, newly sober folks are often left with a surplus of time alone which can be dangerous. Sex addiction is a disease which preys on loneliness and low self-worth. Thankfully, things like art classes, attending 12-step groups and volunteering can help build self-esteem while providing positive human interaction. Mainly for the newly sober, it’s important to remember to take it easy. Stress can be truly devastating on addicts so avoiding people and situations that can cause stress is highly recommended in early sobriety. If your workload is too stressful, talk to your boss and see if you can get some help. If you have plans to have dinner with family members who know how to push your buttons, cancel them. If traffic makes your blood boil, take public transportation to work. Basically, do whatever you can to make your recovery more successful in those early days. Changing your entire life and saying goodbye to old destructive ways of thinking is not an easy battle. But with a lot of help and some new habits of self-care, it’s one that is truly worth fighting.
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