Sex vs. Food

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Sex is a healthful behavior – until it becomes an obsession and spirals out of control.

Sex and porn addiction and eating disorders are similar in many ways. For starters, these behaviors are (for most people, most of the time) healthy and essential to life. In fact, eating and being sexual contribute to survival of both the individual and the species. (This is why our brains are programmed to experience pleasure when we engage in these activities.) Unfortunately, for vulnerable individuals (people at-risk for addiction thanks to genetics, trauma, and/or their environment), this inborn pleasure response can become a go-to coping mechanism used to deal with any and all forms of emotional and psychological discomfort – turned to time and time again until the individual loses control over it.

Task for Today
Picture a life where you are sexual only in healthy ways, much like a person with an eating disorder must learn to eat in healthy ways.

Connection in Recovery

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Addiction is a disease of isolation.

Novelist Dean Koontz once wrote, “A fine line separates the weary recluse from the fearful hermit. Finer still is the line between hermit and bitter misanthrope.” Addiction is a disease that wants to cross those lines. Addiction wants us alone and isolated, so it can both nurture and prey upon our shame. When there is nobody in our life to provide emotional comfort and to point out that our life is not as bad as it seems (or maybe that it’s worse than it seems), our addiction has free reign.

Task for Today
Reach out to three different people in your sexual recovery support network, if only to say hello and let them know you care about them.

The ‘Loss of Control’

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The easiest way to find Heaven is to slowly back away from Hell.

Nearly all sex and porn addicts lose control over our ability to not engage in sexual fantasies and behaviors. We try to quit or cut back, making promises to ourselves and others, but we repeatedly fail in these efforts. We say we won’t look at porn today, but then we do. We say we won’t log in to our hookup apps tonight, but then we do. We say we won’t cheat on our spouse again, but then we do. This is our loss of control. And it is the same loss of control that occurs with alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive gambling, and other addictions.

Task for Today
Look at your life realistically and honestly and admit that in your active addiction you cannot control your sex life.

Has Technology Changed Sex and Porn Addiction?

Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.

The basics of sex and porn addiction are the same with or without the involvement of technology. As sex and porn addicts, we engage in our problematic sexual behaviors repeatedly and compulsively, despite clearly related negative life consequences, and we do this with or without the assistance of technology. Sure, some of us prefer tech-sex to real-world sex, or vice versa, but the lack of availability of one or the other doesn’t stop us. With the advent of digital technology, the primary thing that has changed for us is the manner and speed with which we can locate and access the sexual content and partners that fuel our addiction.

Task for Today
Recognize that you can use technology to aid your recovery, much as you used it to fuel your addiction.

Treatment Won’t Cure Me?

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There is no cure for addiction, but it can be put it into remission.

Newly recovering sex and porn addicts sometimes wonder why everyone (treatment centers, outpatient therapists, fellow recovering addicts) seems so adamant about going to and participating in 12-Step meetings. Well, the reason is that there is no cure for addiction. It doesn’t matter how good a treatment center is, rehab won’t permanently fix our addiction. We don’t spend 30 days in rehab and walk out the door perfectly OK. At best, we depart with an understanding of our basic issues, some useful coping skills that can help us avoid relapse, and a plan for carrying our newfound sobriety forward into the rest of our lives. And invariably that plan involves ongoing participation in 12-Step recovery. Because this is what works. Experience proves it.

Task for Today
Accept that you will always be an addict, but you don’t always have to act like one.

Step Ten: The Spot-Check Version

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Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Step 10 is usually done at the end of each day and on an as-needed basis. The as-needed spot-check version can be incredibly useful. This type of tenth step recognizes that if we are disturbed or upset, there is something wrong with either us or the situation around us and the issue is best looked at right away, before things escalate. If we are at work and become angry with our boss, a fellow employee, or a client, we can work a quick tenth step, pausing to look at the situation, making note of any part that we have played in it. Once we have a better understanding of what is happening and our role in it, we can more easily deal with it in an appropriate fashion. When we pause before acting to perform a quick Step 10 inventory, it typically prevents the sort of regrettable behaviors that later require a formal amends. In this way (and many others), Step 10 makes our lives much less troublesome and significantly more serene.

Task for Today
Think about the short and long-term benefits of spot-check Step 10 inventories.