The Cycle of Sexual Addiction

It is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought.

Addictions are cyclical in nature, with no clear beginning or end and one stage leading to the next (and then the next, and the next, and the next), leaving the addict stuck in an endless, downwardly spiraling loop. With sexual addiction, there are six distinct stages in this cycle: triggers (catalysts that create a need/desire to act out sexually), fantasy, ritualization (the process of moving fantasy toward reality), acting out, numbing (emotional distancing), and despair (shame and remorse). As every sex addict is aware, the despair stage morphs into the trigger stage, renewing the endless cycle.

Just for Today: Draw a diagram of your addictive cycle, listing specific thoughts and behaviors for each of the six stages.