As with any kind of addiction, people who have gone through sex addiction therapy and entered recovery remain vulnerable to relapses. Relapsing is often a part of the recovery process and does not mean that your sex addiction rehab program in Los Angeles, CA , has failed or that you cannot re-enter recovery. You can reduce your risk of relapsing by understanding the triggers and having a plan to cope with them when they arise. During sex addiction treatment, your therapist will work with you on building strategies to cope with the triggers you will inevitably face during recovery, including these common ones.
Physical and Emotional Stress
Many people with sex addictions used those behaviors to cope with stress, and when indulging the addiction is no longer possible, finding a new way to deal with stress is crucial. Physical stressors, such as not getting enough sleep and not eating right, can leave you feeling unhealthy and looking for something to make you feel better in the way that addictive behaviors may have in the past. Emotional stress, including pressure at work and strains in personal relationships, can tempt people with past sex addictions to turn to damaging behaviors. Having a plan for dealing with stress and using it can keep these feelings under control.
Although feeling confident in your recovery is important, feeling so secure that you stop taking the necessary steps to keep your addiction under control could trigger a relapse. During recovery, some people become so sure of their success that they stop meeting with their therapists or attending group counseling sessions, which could leave the unequipped to deal with other triggers when they arise.
Most people think of the stress of negative events when they think of relapse triggers, but happy occasions can also lead to a relapse. In some cases, the act of celebrating the event is the trigger for relapse. In other cases, positive events, such as marriage or the birth of a child, can also be overwhelming and lead to a relapse.
Am I the only person who made collages of things I loved as a child? Surely some of you readers can relate to cutting pictures out of magazines of your dream boyfriends, careers and phrases like “Just do it” and “Maybe she’s born with it.” Those glue-stick assembled creations of our youth are worth taking a second look at now as adults. I am referring to creating what is called a “Vision Board.” It may sound cheesy but bear with me. This tool can change your life from chaotic and messy to clear and hopeful. How? By actually putting down on paper what you are choosing your life to be about. Many things are out of our control, but much of what we do and how we choose to live is intentional. Life is a collection of many, many choices. Identify the choices you need to make and you can make your dreams come true.
A Vision Board is a map of what you’d like to be doing in 5 years, coupled with the steps you need to take to get there. It is created by drawing a circle on a piece of paper and filling the background with all of your wishes, hopes and dreams for where you would like to be in 2021 (if you did one today, in 2016). Inside the circle, list at least 5 things you can do today or this week or month, to get you one step closer to those long-term goals. Seem easy? Here are a few examples with larger and smaller first steps to get your started:
1. Goal: Have a baby- Track your ovulation monthly and read as much as you can on a fertility diet and lifestyle (Seem overwhelming? Instead start with a trip to the doctor to get checked out this month and start taking prenatal vitamins.)
2. Goal: Be a successful writer- Work on your craft 1 hour a day and read 1 book a week on how to start a writing career. (Too overwhelming? Try blogging one a week and see if you even still enjoy writing before you devote too much time to it.)
3. Goal: Buy a house- Save 20% of every paycheck towards a down payment. (Too much? Try not buying coffee daily and put that money in a “house jar.” Even small steps count towards your goal.)
I learned this tool from a recent IITAP conference I attended in Arizona and used it to create a vision of what I’d like my life to look like in 5 years. It was amazing to see a visual representation of what I want my life to be about someday. It really pointed out what’s currently missing in my life now. Yet what I realized is that I want to do a vision board with my partner as well. After all, those in long-term serious relationships don’t live in isolation. They are part of a team, a unit. Nearly all their decisions are made with someone (or more than one) person in mind. Creating a list of your dreams together using pictures (not words) on the outside of the circle with easy baby steps in the inside is empowering and can help you both to feel more connected. You’re working together towards a common goal, not simply living parallel lives. I even had a coworker who put sticky notes in the inside of his vision board (inside the circle) so that after he accomplished those tasks, he could create new ones. Genius! Your Vision Board can be an ever-evolving thing. Perhaps you could even hang it on your wall for daily inspiration.
So next date night or lazy Sunday afternoon, instead of ordering Thai and watching yet another Redbox on the couch, create a vision board separately and maybe also together. It may not instantly grant you the life of your dreams, but it does put out into the universe the things you want to accomplish with your life. What are your priorities? What do you want to spend more time on? What things are you putting off for later?
It’s one thing to dream, it’s quite another to consciously make steps toward your goals. Be a little bit creative and whip out the scissors, old magazines and Crayola. Ask yourself, what is my vision for my (and our) life? And what can I do today to make that future a reality?
Sano Center for Recovery is a sex rehab serving the Los Angeles area. Our addiction counseling team recognizes the critical need for individualized recovery plans for our patients, which is why we offer Recovery Coaching. The Recovery Coaches at our rehab centers are not “sponsors,” nor are they therapists. Rather, they are your partners in recovery. Your Recovery Coach is a highly trained individual who will work closely with you to identify obstacles, develop strategies for success, and solve problems along the way.
The therapists at our rehab centers emphasize close examination of your past to help you make sense of the present. In contrast, your Recovery Coach emphasizes the structure and quality of your life right now. He or she will help you consider your current goals for your health, relationships and other issues important to your recovery. Your Recovery Coach will help you acknowledge your strengths, identify opportunity areas and assist you in your journey towards a life worth living.
There are many misconceptions surrounding sex addiction, but the truth is that it can be emotionally damaging as well as physically damaging. Sex addiction affects not only the addict, but also their friends and family members. Potential signs of sex addiction include engaging in more sex with more partners than you intend to, engaging in sex despite a desire to stop, or letting other obligations slide because of the pursuit of sex and sex-related activities. Sex addiction counseling in Los Angeles can help you regain control of your life by examining the underlying causes and triggers of these behaviors. Take a look at this infographic to learn more about sex addiction, and what you can expect from the supportive and holistic Mandala Sex Addiction Program. Please share with your friends and family.
For a successful recovery from sex addiction, group therapy is essential. Individuals who participate in group therapy, as well as other treatment modalities such as one-on-one counseling, may be more likely to adhere to a lifestyle in recovery. If you’ve only recently been able to admit that you are addicted to sex, you might hesitate to discuss your problems with others. But you’ll almost certainly find that group therapy sessions at addiction treatment centers offer a welcoming and non-judgmental atmosphere in which you can safely explore your addictions. Join us at our office in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach, CA.
Coming Out of Isolation
Sex addiction can be incredibly isolating. Perhaps in part because sex addiction is not as well understood as drug or alcohol addiction, individuals with this problem may feel as though they’re alone in their struggles, or that they have a problem at all. Sex addiction can cause a person to withdraw from friends and family members. The shame of infidelity, excessive pornography viewing, and other behaviors can make it challenging for patients to look their loved ones in the eye and communicate openly. One of the many benefits of group therapy for sex addicts is that it allows the patients to gradually break free of the isolating nature of addiction.
Receiving the Support of a Community
Breaking free of addiction by oneself is difficult, if not impossible. To successfully overcome sex addiction, patients need a strong support system. Within a group, patients form a cohesive community. In sharing their stories and experiences, group members develop trust in each other and a strong sense of camaraderie. Forming these new relationships can allow group members to understand how to heal relationships that were damaged by addiction.
Developing Effective Coping Skills
Your group therapist plays an important role in discussions. He or she can help group members delve into their deepest emotions in a constructive, exploratory manner. The group leader can guide participants in uncovering how they used sex addiction as a coping mechanism for other problems. When group members can identify these underlying problems, they can begin to develop healthier and more effective tools to live a life worth living.