Relapse Prevention for sex addicts

Summer is coming – are you beach body ready?

It is that time of year when posters start to pop up all over the place asking if your body is ready for the summer.  Adverts are encouraging you to get fit, slim down and tone up to look your best on the beach and by the swimming pool.  The summer can be a nightmare time for a sex addict in recovery.  The temperature rises and the clothes on people start to shrink.  There can be a lot of flesh on show which can be very triggering for sex addicts in recovery.  This blog will focus on helping you stay ‘sober’ and on your addiction recovery journey.

Don’t fight the temptation on your own

Addicts are used to keeping secrets and hiding how they are feeling and what they are thinking.  Part of recovering from sex and porn addiction is being in touch with what you are thinking and feeling.  Attending one-to-one sex addiction counselling, couple counselling or a 12 step programme such as Sexaholics Anonymous allows the sex addict to increase their self-awareness of their internal struggles and temptations and put actions in place to resist acting out.  So, if you are not talking to anyone about your addiction, then we suggest finding a sex addiction support group, sex addiction counsellor or friend to help you start the journey of recovery.

Plan, plan, plan

One of the most common reasons for a relapse is lack of planning.  When sex addicts review how they ended up acting out, they can see a string of seemingly unimportant decisions (SUDs) that occurred prior to them acting out.  Planning allows you time to think through your day and to see if there are any danger spots that need to be protected.  For example, if you are invited to a friend’s birthday party or stag do, then offer to pick everyone up.  This prevents drinking alcohol (which lowers our inhibitions) as well as having responsibility of taking people home afterwards.  You won’t have the opportunity to seek out old ‘acting out’ behaviours because you won’t be on your own. 

If you are going to a stag do this summer, then ask for the timetable of events, so you can go prepared.  If there are parts that you know will be triggering e.g. attending a strip club or night club, then you have the time to plan to leave early or find out if there are others in the group that don’t want to attend the club.

Summer holiday planning

If you normally enjoy a holiday which involves a lot of relaxing by the pool or beach, then if you are new to recovery, then a beach holiday might not be the best idea.  If you have a family, your partner may not want you near lots of sunbathing beauties either, so talk this through with them and investigate maybe a city break or an adventure holiday such as hiking, canoeing etc.  If a beach holiday is unavoidable, then here are some tools to remind you that you are in recovery from sex addiction: 

  • Download podcasts or TED Talks focusing on changing habits and lifestyle
  • Have your sponsor on speed dial
  • Daily read the pillars
  • Focus on playing with the children
  • Position your sun lounger so it limits the amount of people you can see
  • Use the 3 second rule (don’t linger your eyes on people you don’t know for more than 3 seconds, this will help the brain from fixating on an attractive person)
  • Remember what you will lose if you act out now
  • Chew on a piece of lemon – the unpleasantness of the taste can help shock your brain into focussing on the unpleasantness and give you some breathing space to rebalance

It is your recovery

Leading a life of recovery from sex and porn addiction is hard work.  It can feel like a daily battle, but it is worth it.  Here are a few testimonies of clients of the Laurel Centre who have attended one of the Hall Recovery Courses and are now living a life of recovery.

I now understand the reasons, motivations and behaviour that underlie the pursuit of a secret life with this understanding comes choice, conviction, self-esteem and the strength to make a different life.”

“I now have a better understanding of the causes and nature of my addiction, and in so doing, enabled me to forgive myself for many of the things I have done. This is enabling me to move forward with an optimism I could not have imagined before.”