If you’ve struggled with pornography addiction or know someone who has, you or they have probably gone days or weeks without viewing pornography, then relapsed. Often the person goes from feeling good about several days or weeks of abstinence to feeling terrible guilt or shame about the relapse. Let’s look at how to avoid relapse in the future.
Usually, if we’re aware of our actions, thoughts and behaviors, we can recognize the signs of a relapse and take action before it’s too late. Start this process by thinking about the last time you used pornography – What was going on in your life right before? Were you alone? Did you have a bad day? Did you have a fight with someone? Were you angry, frustrated or pissed off? Were you bored and looking for something to do?
Now take inventory of your physical sensations. What physical sensations were you feeling – racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, excitement? Flatness, boredom or apathy?
If you can see a pattern or trend in what is happening in your life just before you use pornography, you can begin to recognize your triggers and take different actions.
Make a plan as to what actions you’ll take. For some people it’s reading. For others it’s journaling. For still others it’s calling a friend, playing musical instrument, painting, drawing, etc.
It’s about having a plan to do something that will take your mind off the triggers of your addiction.
Key points for successful relapse prevention: Create your plan in advance, write your plan down, review it while you’re abstinent, share it with someone you trust.
Spend a little time up-front to think about what triggers relapse, create a plan when those triggers occur and you’re far more likely to avoid relapse when the cravings start.