In my previous article, I described the characteristics of sexually addictive behavior and how a person can find out if they might be dealing with a sexual addiction. In this second article, I will describe how to find healing and freedom from sexual addiction. This article answers the questions I hear in my office almost every day: “How can I break free from this compulsive behavior?” “Is it even possible to find relief from an addiction when I feel so stuck?” “Do I have to spend the rest of my life engaged in this battle?”
In short, the good news is that there absolutely is hope for those who feel trapped in sexual addiction. You can recover. While this is not easy, it is doable. If you are at the point where you are willing to do whatever it takes to get better, you likely have what it takes to succeed. So, what does this process look like? A successful recovery program will include at least a few of the following components:
- Break Through Your Denial About Sexual Addiction
The first step on the journey toward recovery is to admit that you have something from which you wish to recover. That means getting real with yourself and saying out loud to another human being: “I am an addict.”
- Become Educated About Addiction
Once an addict has accepted that fact that he is an addict, it is a good idea for him to gain some knowledge and understanding about how that addiction has developed and the extent to which it has impacted his life. It is also good to learn more about how to overcome addiction.
- Define and Establish Sobriety
What is sobriety? How will the addict know if he has violated his program of recovery? The addict should define the terms of his sobriety as clearly as possible and hold himself accountable to that standard as he goes forward.
- Identify Your Support System
Nobody recovers from an addiction in isolation and recovery inevitably requires living life in a new way. Recovery requires vulnerability, openness, rigorous honesty, and connections with trusted, safe people. This can happen in a church setting, in a recovery group, and within a family.
- Individual Therapy for Sexual Addiction
This is the best way to get under the surface of the behavioral issues and identify the emotional roots of the addiction. The addict is likely using the addictive behavior to medicate or cope with some form of emotional pain. Therapy is a very effective, safe, non-judgmental avenue that enables you to answer the question: “Why am I acting out like this?” If you know why, you can stop for good. A good counselor can assist the addict in the potentially difficult process of defining new boundaries, grieving losses, and making amends.
- Twelve-Step Recovery (Group Therapy)
The community, structure, support, and accountability provided by a good recovery group can be invaluable in the recovery process. Addicts often report that their recovery group was the first place they actually experienced true acceptance and intimacy with another human being.
- Couples Therapy
If the addict is involved in a marriage or other long-term intimate relationship, couples counseling will probably be required in order to repair the damage done to the relationship during the additive period. Trust will need to be rebuilt. New communication patterns will need to be established. As with individual counseling, a good couples counselor can assist the couple in the process of therapeutic disclosure, defining new boundaries, grieving losses, and making amends.
- Relapse Prevention
Relapse prevention will ideally be an integral part of a good recovery program and/or the work that an addict does with his counselor. It is essential to identify the emotional, relational, and circumstantial triggers and find ways to avoid and/or deal with those in the future.
It is clear that recovering from an addiction is not easy. There are a lot of moving parts and some sacrifices will be required. In addition to the categories listed above, the addict would be wise to consider implementing some new spiritual disciplines. It is also good to evaluate your physical fitness and nutrition habits. Yes, it’s a lot to think about and accomplish, but if you take it one day at a time, one moment at a time, it can be remarkably doable.
Christian Counseling for Overcoming Sexual Addiction
If this article has stirred something in you and you have questions about what to do next, it is very important for you to know that you are not alone. Instead, you may simply be one of the rare individuals who actually has the courage to be honest about it and to look for help. There is hope for you. Change is possible!
Christian counseling is an excellent place to start the process of overcoming an addiction to pornography. With the help of a good Christian counselor, you (and your spouse) can begin to find the solutions you are seeking.
“Don’t Just Stand There,” by Jeff Sheldon, unsplash.com;
“Solitary,” by Lee Scott, unslpash.com