The Pink Cloud of Recovery

Recovering addicts must learn to enjoy the ups while staying prepared for the downs.

Many sex and porn addicts experience a “honeymoon period” in early recovery, where we suddenly lose all desire to engage in our addiction. Fascinated by the insight we’re developing and thrilled to have finally found a solution to our long-standing problem, we move forward thinking that recovery is easy and we’ve got our addiction in the bag. This is not, however, the case. The pink cloud of early recovery is temporary, and the desire to act out eventually returns – often stronger than before. If this is not expected and anticipated, it is easy for us to think that something has gone awry in our recovery. In reality, nothing is amiss. This is a normal part of the healing process.

Just for Today
Think of one healthy thing you can do when the “recovery blues” hit.

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. 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.

Sex Addiction is Not Fun

Lots of people joke about sex addiction, saying “Where do I sign up?” Those people don’t understand what it’s like to be a sex addict.

Many people view sex and porn addictions as less serious than “real” addictions (i.e., substance addictions). In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Sex and porn addiction bring the same types and levels of misery as alcoholism and drug addiction: relationship trouble, issues at work or in school, declining physical and/or emotional health (depression, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, etc.), social and emotional isolation, financial woes, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, legal trouble, and more.

Just for Today
Remember the downside of your addiction and use that as motivation for sobriety.

Adopting an Attitude of Gratitude

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Grateful people are happy people.

Greek philosopher Epicurus once said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” For sex and porn addicts, of course, this is not a natural way of looking at life. We seem to always want what we don’t have, sexual or otherwise. In recovery, we must learn that what we have is enough, and usually it’s more than enough. The good news is that when we finally see and accept this truth, many of the triggers that set off our addiction simply disappear.

Just for Today
Write down three things you are truly thankful for. Share your list with at least one person you care about.

The Desire for Escape

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Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t fix anything.

As active sex and porn addicts, we compulsively used sexual fantasy and activity as a way to numb out and not feel stress and other forms of emotional discomfort, regardless of potential or actual consequences. And we lacked empathy for those who were negatively affected by our addiction, including spouses/partners, kids, friends, neighbors, and employers. Sometimes we even blamed our “need to escape” on the attitudes and actions of these other people. We also found ourselves living a double life, separating our sexual activity from our work and home life – keeping secrets, telling lies, manipulating, juggling, minimizing, justifying, etc.

Just for Today
Choose to live in reality, however uncomfortable you find it.

Asking for Help

An obstinate sense of independence is most people’s greatest challenge.

As recovering sex and porn addicts, we nearly always need outside assistance if we hope to change our problematic behaviors and live healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives. If we could stop what we’re doing on our own, we would. Most of us have tried that many times, failing repeatedly. We’re fine for a few days, but then we’re right back at it, as lost as ever. For us, shame and remorse are not enough to prevent relapse. Willpower alone doesn’t cut it. For lasting recovery, we need the impartial insight and accountability that only sex/porn addiction treatment and other recovering sex and porn addicts can provide.

Just for Today
Reflect on how much easier sexual recovery is when you’re not trying to do it all by yourself.