If you’re struggling with compulsive sexual behaviours, you’re not alone. Millions of men have been there, including me. Fortunately, you can change your patterns and get out of this cycle. Here are some ideas to get you started on the road to recovery.
What are the tools for coping with sex addiction?
You may need more than coping skills to get better from sex addiction or compulsive sexual behaviour. However, these tools can help you along the way as you’re seeking ongoing support. You can try out any of these skills or skip the ones that don’t work for you. Even small changes can jump-start your recovery.
Avoid triggers that worsen your symptoms of sex addiction
It’s hard to change habits, but if possible, try to limit triggers like apps, bars, or unfiltered internet, at least at first. Some people in recovery from sex addiction set filters on their home internet that won’t allow them to access pornography sites easily. This can at least provide a delay if you have an impulsive moment.
If you can’t avoid triggers entirely, try to put obstacles in your way. For example, some people attempting to stop drinking don’t take money with them to work. This way, they won’t have cash if they’re tempted to stop at the liquor store on the way home. Of course, they could still go home and get the money, but the trigger may be less powerful by that time.
Similarly, think about your own habits and impulsive behaviours and what you can put in between them and you. Do you spend money at strip clubs? Is there a local hookup bar you drive by every day? Perhaps you can change your usual routes, so you’re not as tempted. Think about ways to make it more difficult to access the materials, people, or places that tend to enable your addiction.
Consider setting boundaries with people that encourage the destructive behaviour
Sometimes people spend a lot of time in environments that encourage the behaviours they want to change. For example, if you have friends that pressure you to go out or tend to encourage a “party” attitude, start cutting those ties.
You don’t have to give many details if you don’t want to. Just let them know you’re trying not to go out as much and may not be hanging out for a while. Then replace those elements with other less tempting activities.
Replace your old habits with new ones
Along these lines, you can begin to create new habits to replace those that lead to acting out. For example, if you give up going to bars, replace those nights with working out at a new gym. This will give you some of the same positive feelings, without the behaviour you want to change. Here are some other ideas to think about for inspiration:
- Train for a local marathon
- Take an online class
- Schedule date nights with your partner
- Invite a platonic friend to hang out
- Learn to cook your favourite meals
Practice mindfulness to develop healthy coping strategies
Mindfulness is a common practice used to deal with stress, triggers, and mental health struggles. Many people struggling with addiction find this helpful. It involves simply slowing down and noticing your experience in the moment.
Like with exercise, the more you practice mindfulness, the better it will work. However, even occasionally, using it during a difficult moment makes a difference. It may be helpful to start with some videos or mindfulness apps to get the hang of it. Other activities that can include mindfulness include yoga, Tai chi, jogging outdoors, or simply taking a few minutes to notice your breath.
Consider journaling to understand your feelings and behaviour
If you don’t mind writing, journaling can be a great tool to get to the bottom of what you’re feeling. You can use it to process your day, examine your underlying feelings, or track triggers. Many people also practice what’s called “gratitude journaling,” which is simply writing about positive events and things in your life that you’re grateful for. This can reframe your attitude over time, especially if you tend to look at the negatives.
Find alternative things to enjoy and entertain yourself with
If your life has become consumed by your addiction, you may be missing out on some of the other things you enjoy the most. For example, if you used to enjoy music or old movies, you can make a point to make time for these hobbies. Other ideas include searching for a motivational podcast, finding a new series to get into for a while, or playing video games (all in moderation, of course).
Reach out to supportive people you can trust
Many people with addiction struggle with isolation. This could be due to shame or simply because their sexual behaviours have been consuming their time. If this is the case for you, reach out to supportive friends you haven’t seen in a while. If you have difficulty making connections, look for settings that make it easier to socialize. This could be through a gym or through fellowship groups that focus on sobriety or healthy living.
Consider Recovery Coaching to help with your sex addiction
Another option for support is through recovery coaching. This is how I help support others who are struggling with sexual addiction. I’ve been down the same road as you and can provide experience to help you chart a way out. I can help you clarify where you’re at, set goals, and take the steps needed to get to where you want to get to.
If you’re interested in learning how recovery coaching can help, set up an initial free call. You can schedule an appointment here. I look forward to hearing from you!