When I work with individuals with sexual addiction or pornography addiction, we always discuss relapse. Many times clients will hit bottom and decide “once and for all” that they will never relapse again. “I’m never gong to look at pornography again.” or “I’ve had it with affairs (or exposing myself, or masturbating in public, etc.)” Although this seems like a great attitude, I find it is rarely realistic.
Relapse to sexual addiction is tough to avoid. It is possible, but rarely have I found clients who avoid relapse through sheer “force of will”. Instead, working a process is the best way to avoid relapse.
The process is multi-fold and different for each addict. The basics though, include learning your triggers, being able to recognize them, having other options when your triggers occur, and having the open and honest support of someone you can reach out to when triggers and cravings occur – which they most likely will.
It’s not a difficult process to understand, but it does take focus and attention. Start by thinking about what was going on in your life the last time you relapsed. Figure out what emotions were going through your mind just before you started the process of relapsing. What caused those emotions?
Now, begin to recognize those emotions as soon as they surface and have a different, more healthy escape.
Your addiction to sex or pornography is probably an escape from something – an unhealthy escape. When you realize this, and find more healthy coping skills and tools, your relapse is much less likely.