The CHOICE Recovery Model – Establish Confident Recovery

Over the past few weeks we’ve been exploring the CHOICE Recovery model – a roadmap for recovery that goes far beyond sobriety, towards living a full and rewarding life. In case you’ve just clicked on this blog and not seen the previous ones, here’s a recap:- 

CChallenged Core Beliefs

HHave a Vision for the future 

Overcome Compulsive Behaviours

I – Identify Positive Sexuality

-  Connect with Others

And today we come to the end of the model with E– Establish Confident Recovery 

Beating sex and porn addiction

There are two ways that you can approach recovery, you can either see it as something to enjoy or something to endure. And you’re far more likely to enjoy it if you focus your energies on creating new positive ways of experiencing life and getting the dopamine kicks that you previously received from acting out, rather than grieving what’s been lost.

Confident recovery involves three tasks, learning to manage emotions, developing healthy daily disciplines and taking up positive pursuits and pastimes.  We will explore each of these in a little more depth now. 

Learning to manage emotions

There’s a saying – the best thing about recovery is that you get your feelings back, and the worse thing about recovery is that you get your feelings back!! When you stop using sex or porn to escape from the world and anaesthetise emotions, they come back. Some of those emotions will be positive and enjoyable and people often talk about how they feel greater joy and laugh more when they’re in recovery. Unfortunately, painful feelings can surface too, some may be emotions that have been pushed down for many years such as anger and fear, while others are emotions that arise as a consequence of being fully present in the world. People often mistakenly think they can avoid the difficult emotions and experience only the pleasant ones, but in reality, addiction robs people of both. Group work and individual therapy provide excellent environments for exploring emotions in greater depth and learning to experience and express the full range.

Developing healthy daily routines

Developing healthy routines begins from the moment you wake up and ends when you go to bed. Healthy routines are the backbone of good self-care and should be undertaken in the same spirit as brushing your teeth – in other words it improves your confidence and prevents future problems. Furthermore, it would feel strange if you didn’t do it every day. Healthy routines include eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise, getting a good night’s sleep and establishing a habit of relaxation and/or mindfulness. It might also include journaling, writing a daily gratitude list and attending 12-Step and aftercare groups.  

Taking up positive pursuits and pastimes 

Giving up an addiction will leave a hole in your life, both in terms of time and also in terms of reward, but there are an endless number of things you can do instead. Developing healthy pursuits and pastimes serves a number of functions. In early recovery they provide a distraction, but they can also add a sense of purpose in life and can become an essential way of enjoying fun and recreation. Some people are able to remember things they used to do before the addiction took hold, whilst others are starting from scratch. There’s a long, long list of possibilities in my book, ranging from music, reading and the arts, through to sports and fitness, creativity and community work. Some are things that can be enjoyed when you need time alone whilst others also have the benefit of being social so you can tick the ‘connect to others’ box too! 

Confident recovery can be a new way of life; a life that is fulfilling and meaningful; a life that can be equally treasured alone or shared with others. Sobriety and recovery are often confused, but they are not the same. There’s no doubt that you need sobriety in order to enjoy recovery, but too many people settle for sobriety without knowing that recovery is a ‘choice’ they can make. It’s a choice you have to make every day, but the more times you experience it, the easier that choice becomes. 

For more information about the CHOICE Recovery Model, do get a copy of Understanding and Treating Sex and Pornography Addiction (Routledge 2018).  Second Edition