Sexual addiction treatment can vary greatly depending upon a therapist, treatment program, or other avenues. However freedom from a sexual addiction—that’s a simpler story! It will give you a renewed sense of freedom, autonomy, self-esteem, joy and choice. Whatever pathway you take to this destination will be highly rewarding.
If I was sending you out to climb a mountain you would want to know what climbing was like, how it feels to push up the slippery slopes and what it is like to camp on the highest summit. You would also want to know what tools you would need and how you will use them. It would be wise for anyone to consider the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of any great journey—so let’s do that now.
What Should I Expect Recovery to be Like?
It is a journey: One where you will start out in the dark shadows of the foothills, uncertain how you got there, but very eager to leave. As you stride out on the journey you will only know where you are, but rest assured the guides know the journey ahead. If you ask them they will tell you there will be times of gradual climbing, the sharp, steep ascents, followed by plateaus.
Then you will climb again and slip, sliding back until you gain your footing and push back up with thighs burning and heart fierce. As this persists you will find a summit, followed by a downhill jaunt, followed by more climbing and then finally the peak—the glorious moment where you realize you are truly able to see the vistas of life.
Challenged and anxious: Any adventure towards life is full of challenges that seem daunting but necessary. Every time you come to a steep climb, or you slip, you will feel challenged—maybe beyond the limit you have come to know for yourself.
The anxiety of pushing through, fumbling and figuring out the journey is inevitable. No one has made significant changes and shared their vulnerable heart without feeling anxious. But it is worth it; it is transformative to know you can endure.
Excited and in awe: When you realize how high you are climbing and that you no longer feel the cool of the foothill shadows, you will feel relief and hope. The higher you climb and the more the air fills your lungs the more you will want it.
From trudge too sprint. As the summit—the experience of your self being free—approaches, you can’t help but smile. Relief and joy mix into awe, as you become a person you have always longed to be.
How Will Recovery Work?
Treatment programs, groups and therapy: The process of climbing depends upon how far into the foothills you start. Some will need intensive inpatient programs to help them start, others will start with daily group meetings and weekly visits with a therapist, others will just need a supportive community and a guidebook.
Inpatient programs help you through withdrawal and concentrate on the healing process. Therapists will help you heal as well, just over a longer period—allowing you to work in between sessions, with the continued support coming through SA or other addiction recovery groups.
It is wise to commit to attending group everyday at first—you never know when you might get triggered, and you will benefit immensely from the accountability and relational experience.
Those who need a guide will find the action of invoking their own willpower and fortitude a rewarding experience. Whatever route you take, it will likely take you between 6 months (at minimum) and 2 years to find sustained freedom. It is usually a long hiking expedition.
Acknowledging the truth and your reactions: As you begin recovery you will have to initially face the truth of your circumstances, actions and the internal struggle to leave behind what has become a friend.
The initial movements include experiencing your emotions more fully and learning to wrestle with intense temptation and control your own actions. There is no other way to become aware of your experience and work with it than to experience it—that is why the addictive actions have to be removed.
Learning new ways to thrive: Skills and tools will be taught and learnt as you begin to change the way you relate to yourself, stress, triggers and emotions. These are not all preventative, but extend far into building the satisfying life you were attempting to build through sexual activities.
The mountain path of addiction falters at the first climb, the path of holistic engagement, self-acceptance, healing and honesty stretches to the summit. These skills will be a challenge to master, and sustaining new ways of living will take time.
Reforming relationships and community: Finally, addiction shapes the way we relate to others. People become objects, often to be used or avoided. As shame erodes in recovery community, we can start to see people more clearly without the chemical imbalance of addiction and relate more empathically and openly.
This will require practice and moving towards other people. It will also involve reparations and apologies. We are wired to be social creatures, and only once we diminish shame and reestablish relationship will we flourish. The process of dealing with our relational style can be long and based in healing past wounds—therapy or consultation is integral in this process.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
How have you learned to relate to others differently in your recovery from addiction?
About the author: Paul Loosemore, MA PLPC, author of “21 Movements Towards Life” – The step-by-step guide to recovering from sexual addiction or pornography. Paul works as a mental health counselor, and consults with those who wish to recover from Sexual Addiction—both individuals and couples. He is the founder of www.stopsexualaddiction.com where you can find his guide, or contact him.
: Based on: Loosemore, P. (2016) 21 movements towards life. www.stopsexualaddiction.com/guide
: Struthers W. (2009) Wired for intimacy. InterVarsity Press.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 16, 2016
Published on AddictionHope.com