Going to sex addiction recovery likely feels daunting. Deciding when to ask for help is the first step, but it’s also the most challenging. Accepting that your addiction has progressed to the point of controlling your thoughts and life may feel like an admission of weakness. When really, asking for help is an indicator of immense strength. What will help you to take that first step toward sex addiction recovery?
Recovery from behavioral addictions isn’t always a straight line. Everyone’s path is different, but you’ll likely face some common hurdles when going through a sex addiction recovery program.
What is Sex Addiction?
Hypersexuality disorder, or sex addiction, is a preoccupation with sex. It can manifest as sexual fantasies, excessive porn watching, or compulsive urges and behaviors that harm your life.
These impacts are usually widespread – your relationships, health, job, and other parts of your life are drastically affected.
Symptoms of sex addiction include:
- Feeling out of control of sexual impulses
- Spending excessive time thinking about, planning, or seeking sexual outlets
- Avoiding events and gatherings that don’t involve sex
- Feeling shame, guilt, and embarrassment about your sexual activities
- Lying about or trying to cover up your sexual activities
- Using sex to deal with negative emotions
- Escalating sexual behaviors that threaten your job, relationships, or physical health
- Attempting to stop unwanted sexual behaviors but being unable to
Trauma is often the root cause of sex addiction. Trauma is an event that causes you a great deal of distress. Dopamine is the pleasure chemical that helps you feel at ease. For those with sex addiction, sexual pleasure and masturbation are what you use to self-soothe. As a readily available source of dopamine, it becomes your crutch. Over time, you become dependent on sexual release to cope with daily triggers.
Thus, due to the emotions associated with unresolved trauma, you form a behavioral addiction to sex.
Common Hurdles in Sex Addiction Recovery
Sex addiction recovery involves many stages and is often ongoing. People face common hurdles during recovery.
Ed Tilton, Chief Operating Officer at Begin Again Institute, said, “Empathy for oneself is often difficult in sex addiction recovery.”
He also identified the following common hurdles:
- Distress related to past behaviors
- Over-committing and burning out instead of approaching recovery in a way that’s sustainable
- Romantic patterns that may be a source of behaviors
- Not being sober long enough to identify the difference between urges and trauma triggers
- Poor boundaries with technology
- Relationships with affair partners that haven’t ended
- Lack of boundaries with family members
Be patient in addressing these hurdles on the path to recovery. Addiction forms over time and will take time to heal. Celebrate each time you make a choice that prioritizes yourself and your relationships, and be patient in your recovery journey.
Tips to Help Overcome Hurdles
Hurdles are not obstacles. Instead, they’re growth opportunities. When you face one of the hurdles of sex addiction recovery, realize that you always have choices.
Ed says a person can overcome hurdles by:
- Being honest with themselves about emotions that arise in relationships
- Surrounding themselves with a care team and asking for help
- Creating community. Sex addiction thrives in isolation. People in recovery will need a community to combat it and help keep them accountable.
- Being honest about your behaviors and not seeing addiction as a sign of weakness
- Setting healthy boundaries with technology and in relationships
- Finding new, healthy ways to deal with stress and discomfort
Seeking help from an experienced and knowledgable mental health professional (or team of professionals) is essential to overcoming sex addiction.
A trauma-informed clinician will help you do more than just treat the exhibiting symptoms or behaviors. They can help you identify and treat the underlying cause for the addiction and experience true healing and freedom from it.
Let Begin Again Institute Help
Overcoming sex addiction may feel like an impossible task when you set out on your healing journey, but it’s possible to experience long-term recovery.
Here at Begin Again Institute we have a Comprehensive inpatient treatment programs like the 14-Day Men’s Intensive may be the ideal jump-start for your recovery. The residential intensive treats men with sexual addiction by helping them understand and address trauma as the root cause of their behaviors.
Contact Begin Again Institute to take action and regain control of your life. We’re here to support you every step of the way.