Staying True to Your Recovery During Social Distancing

Social distancing complicates things for recovering porn and sex addicts for many reasons. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind while trying to stay true to your recovery during this stressful COVID-19 situation. 

  1. Pay closer attention to your triggers.

    With added stress and isolation, you will be prone to increased triggers. Pay close attention to how you feel and how different situations pull you towards acting out. It might even be beneficial to use a rating system from 1-10, with 1 meaning that you are totally fine and 10 meaning that you are to the point of acting out. Make sure to intervene at around a 7; it will also be your job to figure out how those numbers coincide with your actual feelings. 

  2. Create a pre-planned list of possible alternatives.glenn-carstens-peters-RLw-UC03Gwc-unsplash

    It is very difficult to try and think of things in the moment to replace the urge to act out. Instead, find a moment of time where you feel relaxed, extra dedicated or just positive and write down things that you like to do. These need to be dopamine producing activities (fun things) that can compete with the urges to act out. This way, when your brain sends a signal to your body requesting the “go-to” dopamine fix (acting out) you can offer it a healthy, yet substantial substitute. Try to come up with at least 3 alternatives.    

  3. Make sure to get some exercise.

    You might feel some “sexual tension” rising out of this social inactivity, but instead of acting on the sexual impulse, get some energy and tension out with some good ol’ fashion exercise. You can even push your body a little more if you feel “extra pent up”. The endorphins produced in your brain will not only make you feel better, but it will help open up other important neuropathways to minimize the entrenched neuropathway caused by your addiction.

  4. Keep your accountability partner informed.

    While you might be tempted to keep your accountability partner in the dark or make an excuse for yourself with the social distancing, just remember that the only person you are hurting is yourself (and your partner if you act out). Make extra efforts to keep them informed of how you are feeling and emotionally dealing with the social distancing.

  5. Recognize your connection needs and take action.allie-smith-KzUsqBRU0T4-unsplash (1)

    Remember that the opposite of addiction is not necessarily sobriety; it’s connection. While the social distancing can make it more difficult to connect with loved ones, be sure to recognize within yourself the need for connection (especially when triggered). When you start feeling lonely, reach out! I would recommend you use a video conferencing method instead of a phone call; seeing someone visually makes a difference to your brain and will make you feel more connected to the person you are speaking with.

  6. Stay true to a healthy daily routine.

    Even though your normal routine might be thrown off due to the COVID-19 situation, do your best to adapt and adopt another one. Structure is very good for the addicted brain, but sometimes it fights against it. Don’t let your addicted brain win the healthy routine battle! You can even just use the same work routine without the drive to your office (if you work from home) and don’t forget to do your dailies.

  7. “Pluck out thy right eye if it offends thee”.

Let me be clear, I am not condoning self-mutilation; this refers to the bible verse that talks about removing the stimulus that is causing you to “stumble” or in this case to act out. If you have found the “back-door” to your ability to act out, now is the time to shut it. Do your best to create an environment that would make it extremely difficult for you to act out if you got the urge to do so. Take it out of your hands and out of your own willpower and put it (the password to a device) in your partner’s (or trusted individual’s) hands.

By: Sergio Pereyra, PhD, AMFT

LifeSTAR of the Central Valley helps individuals, partners, and families to heal from the effects of pornography and sexual addiction. Complete our Self-Evaluation today to discover if LifeSTAR is right for you.

This entry was posted in Addiction, COVID-19, Recovery, Sexual Addiction, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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