When it comes to addiction, recovery is always possible. But breaking through denial can be difficult. It’s especially challenging when you don’t understand healthy coping or try to rationalize your behavior.
Stages of Recovery
Everyone’s addiction looks different. So does everyone’s recovery. But there are six common stages of recovery that people tend to experience.
The six common stages of recovery are:
- Admitting the Problem. Before you can heal, you have to recognize you have a problem. Often this happens after you hit rock bottom. You realize all addiction costs you and what your future will look like if you don’t make changes.
- Stopping. You decide you no longer want to live with addiction. You stop the addictive behavior, like drinking alcohol, substance use, or watching pornography.
- Getting Tools to Stay Sober. No one can recover from addiction alone. In this stage, you recognize that you need help staying sober. You recruit the assistance you need for support and recovery.
- Learning to Cope with Risks. Temptation is everywhere, especially for someone recovering from addiction. In this stage, you learn to avoid temptations and deal with triggers.
- Living a Life of Accountability. Addiction hurts the person with the addictive behavior and their loved ones. Recovery in this stage means understanding how your actions affect others and making amends for the past. It also means resolving not to hurt others or yourself like that again.
- Building a Strong Foundation. You build a strong foundation by completing the other five stages and recognizing that recovery is ongoing. Even if you’ve stopped the behavior and gotten help to cope with the root cause, recovery is day-to-day. You need the foundation of help and support to get you through the difficult days.
When it comes to the sex addiction recovery timeline, it’s essential to know what stage you’re in. You need to work through the stages to heal.
But before recovery can begin, a person with a sex addiction must admit there’s a problem. Acceptance of reality is key to making the necessary changes. But accepting reality can be difficult, and many people facing sex addiction experience denial.
Moving forward to acceptance means breaking through denial to start the healing journey.
Denial is a way of thinking where a person denies or distorts what’s happening around them or their actions. In some cases, they might ignore problems or ignore others’ concerns. They could also refuse to see the impact their choices or actions have on others or their environment. They may even blame others for the effects.
In addiction, denial is a coping mechanism that enables the addicted person to ignore the truth.
When it comes to sex addiction, denial is common. It’s difficult for people with sex addiction to admit they’re struggling. By denying their addiction, they don’t have to make the complex changes involved in recovery.
There are types of denial behaviors. People in denial may adopt these behaviors before they accept their addiction and begin healing.
Common denial behaviors include:
- Minimizing. You may act as if it isn’t that bad. You may write their behavior off because “other people do worse things.” You also may act as if people exaggerate your behavior.
- Rationalizing. When you rationalize an addiction, you may say you deserve to blow off a little steam, or you earned a reward for all of your hard work. You may see their behavior as helping you get through a challenging situation.
- Self-Deception. A person may even deceive themselves. You do this by convincing yourself that your behavior isn’t so bad.
- Blame-Shifting. When someone is blame-shifting, you blame someone else for your need to engage in specific behavior.
- Living a Double Life. When someone lives a double life, you believe the addicted parts of your life don’t affect the rest. You may say your behavior doesn’t affect your marriage or doesn’t impede your ability to work.
Why Sex Addicts Experience Denial
There are many reasons someone with a sex addiction may experience denial. It’s not easy to admit you have an addiction. You may also be afraid that other people will shame or judge you.
In some cases, denial allows the brain to justify the behaviors it’s engaged in. You may see your behavior as something you’ll eventually stop. In this way, it’s just a phase and not something to worry about or cause others to judge you.
Addictions can make you behave in ways you normally wouldn’t. Your behavior may bring you shame, embarrassment, or regret. Denying you have an addiction is a way to insulate yourself from that shame.
Denial could also be a way you prevent a change in your life. You know your behavior isn’t serving you, but you think it’s just who you are. By denying that your addiction is an issue, you don’t have to change.
And it could be that you aren’t ready to lead a life without addiction. You may have every intention of quitting someday, but your life may seem empty without the addiction. You aren’t ready to live without it.
Breaking Through Denial
Breaking through denial is the first step toward recovery. It’s not an easy process, but with help and emphasizing reality, you can overcome denial.
Ways a person with addiction can emphasize reality and break through denial include:
- Therapy. Addiction therapists help people face their problems. They can share new, healthy coping mechanisms to ease the process.
- Journaling. Many people may see journaling as a way to record their daily life. But it’s also an excellent way to understand the extent of an addiction.
- Accepting Consequences. Many people who experience sex addiction experience the negative consequences of that addiction. Those consequences can be a wake-up call to the scope of their addiction.
- Reading. In many cases, a person can’t recognize their addiction because you don’t even know such a problem exists. By reading materials on specific addictions, you may recognize your addictive behaviors.
You Don’t Have Heal Alone
Begin Again Institute has helped men heal their sexually addictive behaviors and rebuild their relationships since 2008. It’s the oldest treatment center in the U.S. specializing in treating sex and pornography addiction. We use a trauma-informed approach to sex addiction treatment, which means we understand that untreated trauma often results in addiction.
If you’re ready to begin your healing journey or would like more information about our treatment programs, reach out today.