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The Benefits of Breathwork in Addiction Recovery

African man standing breathing deeply outside under the sun

Breathwork involves various intentional breathing techniques designed to promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It’s a practice that has been used by cultures all around the world for thousands of years, helping with relaxation and stress reduction. 

More recently, the far-reaching benefits of breathwork have also established it as a popular tool in modern therapy, particularly in the field of addiction recovery.

At Begin Again Institute, we incorporate breathwork techniques alongside trauma-focused treatment modalities for men with sex and pornography addictions.

Understanding Sex Addiction Recovery

Sex is a natural and healthy part of life for most people. But if your sexual cravings become uncontrollable or sex starts to harm other areas of your life, you may have an addiction.

Sex addiction is characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and behaviors. These compulsive behaviors are difficult to control and can cause severe emotional distress. They can negatively impact many areas of your life, from your mental and physical health to relationships, jobs, and finances.

Signs of sex addiction include:

  • Being overwhelmed by sexual thoughts, desires, and impulses
  • Feeling like you can’t control your sexual impulses and urges
  • Neglecting other responsibilities and obligations due to sex
  • Regularly engaging in nonintimate sex with strangers or sex workers
  • Engaging in increasingly risky sexual behaviors
  • Compulsive masturbation or pornography viewing
  • Feelings of guilt and shame about your behaviors
  • Mood swings and emotional outbursts
  • Breakdown of relationships and withdrawal from loved ones

Most people with sex addiction are aware of it and have attempted to stop their compulsive behaviors at some point. But these efforts are often unsuccessful, and relapse is common. Overcoming sex addiction alone is extremely challenging. 

Addiction stems from underlying trauma, which is usually experienced early in life. Experiencing trauma activates your brain’s fight-or-flight response, putting you in a constant state of heightened alertness, stress, and anxiety. To cope, your brain seeks out dopamine, its feel-good chemical, in an attempt to manage these negative emotions. 

Sexual activity provides a surge of dopamine, making you feel better temporarily. Sex becomes a coping mechanism and a way of dealing with life’s daily stressors. Your brain makes a connection between sex and dopamine, leading to addiction. And breaking this connection can be incredibly difficult. It requires more than just willpower.

To overcome addiction long-term, it’s vital to identify and heal from the root cause first. Addressing both the addiction and the underlying trauma is the best way to break free from the cycle of compulsive sexual behavior. You’ll also need to learn to develop healthier alternative coping strategies moving forward. This complex recovery process is why it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.

The Role of Breathwork in Sex Addiction Recovery

Effective addiction recovery involves a wide range of therapies and treatment modalities that focus on healing your mind, body, and spirit. One tool that’s often used alongside traditional therapies in the treatment of addiction is breathwork. 

Breathwork involves intentionally focusing and channeling the breath using specific techniques. It can be used as a standalone therapy, as a tool for mindfulness meditation, or integrated into many other therapeutic approaches.

A key role of breathwork in addiction recovery is to enhance the mind-body connection, which often becomes disconnected due to early trauma and prolonged stress. Deep, controlled breaths help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which counters the automatic “fight-or-flight” response your body may be stuck in. In other words, it signals to your brain that it’s safe to relax, releasing the tension and stress from past trauma.

A deeper mind-body connection also fosters greater self-exploration and self-awareness. It can help you uncover and process the underlying causes of your addictive behaviors. Relaxing and clearing the mind encourages you to release pent-up memories and emotions that may have been subconsciously blocked for years.

Breathwork works as an alternative coping mechanism too. Focusing on your breath during potentially triggering and stressful situations can help keep you grounded. It makes it easier to manage your sexual urges and cravings. 

Benefits of Breathwork in Sex Addiction Recovery

Breathwork is a valuable tool in the addiction recovery process. It offers various benefits that help you manage stress, regulate your emotions, and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Benefits of breathwork in addiction recovery:

  • Reduces Stress. Deep breathing helps calm the nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Stress is a common trigger for addictive behaviors, so reducing your stress levels decreases the likelihood of relapse.
  • Encourages Self-Exploration and Emotional Release. Some types of breathwork can induce altered states of consciousness, allowing you to delve deeper into your own mind. They can help you uncover the underlying cause of the addiction and release any pent-up emotions buried within your subconscious.
  • Enhances Self-Awareness. Breathwork allows you to better tune into your own physical sensations and emotional state. Heightened self-awareness helps you recognize triggers and patterns associated with your addictive behaviors. It can encourage you to make more conscious choices moving forward.
  • Better Emotional Regulation. Practicing breathwork can help you become more attuned to your emotions and learn how to deal with them healthily. By focusing on your breath during stressful situations, you can remain grounded and reduce impulsive reactions. This can increase your ability to manage cravings and cope with triggers in the future.
  • Improves Mental Health. By reducing stress and improving emotion regulation, breathwork can also help with symptoms of other mental health disorders that commonly co-occur with addiction, including depression and anxiety.
  • Supports Physical Health. Controlled breathing helps reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and boost the immune system. It supports your physical health, aiding in the long-term recovery process.

Specific Breathwork Techniques for Sex Addiction Recovery

Various breathwork techniques exist, each serving a different purpose and offering unique benefits. A combination of techniques is most effective in the addiction recovery process.

Breathwork techniques for addiction recovery:

  • Deep Breathing. Taking slow, deep breaths into the diaphragm is one of the most simple and effective styles of breathwork for promoting relaxation. Deep breathing exercises lower blood pressure, slow the heart rate, and calm the nervous system. They help reduce stress and calm the mind.
  • Holotropic Breathwork. This new-age breathwork practice uses rapid circular breaths to access an altered state of consciousness. It’s often used in addiction therapy as a tool for self-exploration, helping you process repressed memories and purge pent-up emotions.
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing. Nadī Shodhana is an ancient yogi breathing practice that involves inhaling and exhaling through alternate nostrils. The technique helps balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It can lead to better focus and concentration, increased energy levels, greater emotional stability, and a stronger mind-body connection.

Treatment for Sex Addiction at Begin Again Institute

At Begin Again Institute, we help men overcome sexual addiction and intimacy issues using a trauma-informed therapy approach. We understand that trauma is often the root cause of addiction and that recovering is difficult when your body is trapped in fight-or-flight mode. Our Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSATs) are specially trained to help you overcome your past experiences and finally begin to heal.

Our sex addiction treatment program uses the revolutionary Trauma-Induced Sexual Addiction model. TINSA® is a neurobiological approach to addiction that helps you understand the way your mind and body respond to trauma and process that trauma.

We incorporate breathwork techniques into our treatment programs to help regulate the nervous system and deepen the mind-body connection. We also encourage the use of breathwork in your ongoing addiction recovery process, even after the initial treatment program is complete. 

Learn How To Recover

All Begin Again Institute programs are designed to tackle the root causes of sex addiction using various treatment modalities, including breathwork. Healing from your underlying trauma provides a solid foundation for long-term addiction recovery. 

If you or someone you love is experiencing sex addiction, you can choose from our:

Contact us today to learn more about sex addiction recovery with Begin Again Institute.

  • Category: Recovery
  • By Begin Again Institute
  • July 1, 2024

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