Working Step Four

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Self-reflection helps you steer your thoughts, emotions, and feelings in a healthy direction.

Creating our Step Four inventories can be a miserable endeavor. Basically, we’re dredging up the worst parts of ourselves and writing them down on paper, knowing we’ll soon be sharing this information with another person (as part of Step Five). If we’re working on Step Four and we start to feel serious anxiety or depression, we should take a break. We can put the step away for a while and share what we’re feeling with friends and loved ones who support our recovery. Later, when we are less overwhelmed, we can return to this work. As long as we don’t put it off indefinitely.

Just for Today
Accept the emotional discomfort that comes with recovery.

Stocking Your Toolbox

Addicts must shape the tools of their recovery. Thereafter, the tools will shape them.

When recovering sex addicts are triggered, it is important that they have a recovery-centric toolkit they can utilize in their moment of crisis. After all, implementing one or more healthy coping mechanisms (tools of recovery) is the only consistently effective way to short-circuit the addictive cycle. As British poet George Herbert once wrote: “Do not wait; the time will never be just right. Start where you stand and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”

Just for Today
Make a list of the items in your recovery toolbox. What tools do you use the most? What tools are underutilized? What tools would you like to add?

The Power of Sexual Fantasy

Lost for now is not the same thing as lost forever. We can find our way back.

As sex and porn addicts, our primary coping mechanism for any and all forms of emotional and psychological discomfort is sexual fantasy. We start thinking about how much we enjoyed past sexual encounters and how much we would enjoy a sexual encounter either right now or in the near future. At that point, the sexual obsession kicks in. Suddenly, every person we encounter is seen as a sexual object. And no, our fantasies do not involve memories of bad experiences or unwanted consequences. And once we “lose ourselves” in a fantasy, it is very difficult to stop the addictive cycle.

Just for Today
Try to debunk one of your favorite fantasies by adding its consequence-filled conclusion.

When Sex Addiction and Substance Abuse are Fused

If you want to make a permanent change, stop focusing on the size of your problems and start focusing on the size of you.

When substance abuse is consistently fused with the hunt for and experience of intensely arousing sex, these paired behavioral patterns can become mutually reinforcing. Over time, even simple sexual fantasies and/or memories of past sexual acts can become a psychological trigger for substance use and abuse, and vice versa. Eventually, substances and sexual activity can become so tightly paired that engaging in one behavior inevitably leads to the other. For this type of dually addicted individual, getting drunk/high and seeking/finding/having sex becomes a single coexisting and complementary addiction.

Just for Today
Consider the possibility that you may have a fused sex/substance addiction, and you might need treatment and recovery for both issues.

The Pink Cloud

Let your joy scream across the pain.

Some sex addicts experience the opposite of withdrawal in early recovery. This is known as the honeymoon or the pink cloud. These lucky individuals find that when they embark on the path of healing, they suddenly lose all desire to act out sexually. They are fascinated by the insight they are developing and thrilled to have finally found a solution to their deepest problem. This temporary phase of early recovery is great while it lasts. However, sex addicts who are riding the pink cloud should be aware that their desire to sexually act out will return, and it may be stronger than ever when it does. If this eventuality is not anticipated and prepared for, it is easy to either relapse or to think that something has gone wrong in the healing process. In reality, there is no need for relapse, and nothing is amiss with recovery. Instead, this is a normal part of the process and the addict is simply experiencing a delayed form of withdrawal.

Just for Today
Create a plan for handling emotional adversity while staying sober. Discuss this plan with your therapist or sponsor, asking for suggestions.

Are You Addicted to Porn?

The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.

Porn addiction occurs when a person loses control over whether he or she views and uses pornography, the amount of time he or she spends with pornography, and the types of pornography that he or she uses. Research suggests that in today’s world most porn addicts spend at least 11 or 12 hours per week looking at (and usually masturbating to) pornography – most often digital imagery accessed via computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, or some other Internet enabled device. And this 11 or 12 hours per week number is the low end of the spectrum. Many porn addicts devote double or even triple that amount of time to their addiction.

Just for Today
Think about how much time, each week, you spent on porn in your active addiction. Share about this with your sponsor or in a meeting.