Recovery Requires Other People

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Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who will disagree with you.

The great UCLA basketball coach and philosopher John Wooden once said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” Recovering sex and porn addicts could use this as a mantra. We need to understand that we’re unlikely to change without assistance from others. Honestly, our own best thinking got us where we are, so maybe it’s time to listen to others. To continue with the John Wooden theme, maybe it’s time for us to join a team of recovering people who might occasionally have useful ideas and advice on how to navigate life.

Task for Today
Ask a trusted advisor for advice and implement whatever actions are suggested.

Working Step 2

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The process of change begins with self-awareness.

Those of us who struggle with the ‘restore us to sanity’ language that appears in Step 2 might want to consider the addict’s definition of insanity: doing the same things over and over but expecting different results. In this light, we can ask ourselves, “Does that sound like me? Do I continually go online ‘only for a few minutes, just to see what’s happening,’ even though I can’t remember the last time I managed to log out in less than an hour (or less than several hours)?” Upon reflection, we nearly always realize that the loss of control we have over our addiction causes us to behave in ways that do not make sense, and that we might very well benefit from a restoration to sanity.

Task for Today
Share with another recovering sex or porn addict at least one example of your addiction-related insanity.

Are You Love Addicted?

Knowledge is being aware of what you can do. Wisdom is knowing when to do it and when not to do it.

Love addiction, also known as relationship addiction and romance addiction, is diagnosed using the same general criteria as sex and porn addiction (and all other addictions).

– An ongoing preoccupation to the point of obsession with intense romantic fantasies and new relationships.
– An inability to exercise control over romantic fantasies and new relationships.
– Negative consequences directly or indirectly related to out-of-control romantic fantasies and serial relationships.

Interestingly, love addicts are not actually seeking love. What they’re really chasing, over and over and over, is the emotional escape provided by ‘rush’ of new romance. So love addiction is not about love any more than sex addiction is about sex.

Task for Today
Think about whether you’re seeking love and connection or a neurochemical rush that helps you escape from life.

Early Recovery and the Onslaught of Feelings

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Sobriety requires courage—courage to face the world without the emotional shield of addiction.

As sex and porn addicts, we engage in our addiction not to have a good time but to escape from life and the emotional discomfort it sometimes brings. However, we cannot selectively numb our emotions. When we shield ourselves from pain by escaping into sexual fantasy and behaviors, we also shield ourselves from joy, beauty, and intimate connection. It’s a terrible trade-off. When we get sober, we no longer have this shield at our disposal and we must feel (and deal with) the onslaught of emotions we’ve been avoiding all through our addiction. Many of us find that in early recovery we cry or get angry at the drop of a hat. Happily, this emotional instability fades the longer we’re sober. And if it doesn’t, we can seek external assistance (therapy, medications) that can help.

Task for Today
Choose to experience your feelings. All of them, both good and bad.

Identifying Sex and Porn Addiction in Women

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Addiction knows no race or gender. It does not discriminate.

Female sex and porn addicts can be more difficult to diagnose and treat than male sex and porn addicts. This may be due, at least in part, to socio-cultural attitudes about sex. Men who have a lot of sex are often celebrated as ‘studs’ and ‘players,’ while hypersexual women are denigrated as ‘sluts’ and ‘nymphomaniacs.’ As such, male sex and porn addicts are usually quite willing to discuss their sexual behavior; they may even be proud of their sex life despite the repeated and continually escalating negative consequences wrought by their sexual behaviors. Conversely, female sex and porn addicts—even when they’re being sexual just as frequently, in the same ways, in similar venues, and with the same basic consequences as their male counterparts—tend to downplay their sexual involvement, instead discussing their behavior in terms of relationships, dating, and intimacy.

Task for Today
Pay attention to the different ways you think about male vs. female sexuality.

Recovery Ruins Addiction

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Denial is the worst kind of lie because it’s a lie you tell yourself.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, they say that nothing is worse than a belly full of booze and a head full of recovery. This is also true with sex and porn addiction. Once we know that we have a problem with sex or porn addiction, compulsive sexual behaviors lose their appeal. As soon as our denial begins to crack, our addictive behaviors can never again occur without at least a tiny understanding that ‘this is a very bad idea and I really need to stop.’ Eventually, of course, we must fully commit to either recovery or the ever-deepening downward spiral of addiction. Those of us who opt for the former nearly always find that our lives and relationships steadily get better. Those who opt for the latter tend to experience a continuing series of negative life consequences. If those individuals are lucky, they will eventually return to recovery with a true commitment to change.

Task for Today
Think about the ways in which your denial has cracked since you started recovery. Can you still lie to yourself in ways that make your addiction seem OK?