Early recovery can be filled with a lot of temptation surrounding sexual or emotional situations that can lead us to trouble.
This post provides eight suggestions that can help life during early recovery or even after life has become stable:
1. Recognize and accept that you have a problem and decide to do something about it. Justifications like: ‘One last time’, ‘It does not harm others’, ‘No-one will know’, ‘I am satisfying my natural needs’, ‘All/many of my friends do that also’, point towards difficulty to give up. When you admit that there is a problem you can then do something about it. Be honest with yourself first.
2. Abstain from the compulsive behavior that you have been engaging in. Whether it is porn, infidelity, compulsive masturbation, visiting prostitutes, constant sexual or romantic objectification of men or women, escaping in sexual or romantic fantasy, getting involved with unavailable people, whatever it is, abstain from it. If you cannot stay away from it then is highly likely you are hooked on it and it is time to do something about it.
3. Seek help. There are many resources out there to help. You are not alone in wanting to escape compulsive behavior and live a great, happy life. Some of the things that can help are self help books, therapy, 12 step recovery meetings and more. You are not alone.
4. Plan ahead. It is important to develop structure in your life and ensure you are not getting yourself in difficult situations. If pornography is your problem, plan how you will combat that, perhaps first by installing porn blocking software and educating yourself on the side effects of porn. If you have an issue with sexual or emotional behavior then plan ahead to avoid situations which will lead you to temptation. Do not go to places or meet with people that flair your compulsive behavior.
5. If you have a good relationship with family members and you have healthy friends in your life, stay close and develop better bonds with them. Connect with them, tell them how much you appreciate them. A community of healthy people around you is important for support and for your recovery path.
6. If you already joined SLAA or another 12 Step Fellowship, get involved. Go to meetings, get a sponsor or recovery partner, help others that are struggling. People in recovery support each other during struggles and also good times. They develop a strong recovery community that helps them move forward.
7. Become aware of the BLAST acronym so you you do not blast your abstinence or sobriety. Realize that compulsive behavior does not always start straight with sexual or emotional arousal. Many times it is preceded by emotional states. BLAST stands for Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stressed, Tired. If you are bored or lonely you do not have to watch porn, loose yourself in sexual or romantic fantasy or seek sexual gratification. Prepare a plan in advance for the times you are bored or lonely. There are many healthy things you can do that are exciting or rewarding. Find what they are for you and go out and do them. Also, for many in early recovery, compulsive behavior starts when we are angry, stressed or tired. We want to escape uncomfortable feelings or situations so we plunge straight into compulsive behavior. You do not have to blast your recovery or sobriety because you are bored, lonely, angry, stressed or tired. In recovery we learn how to deal with situations and feelings in healthy ways.
8. Replace old damaging behaviors with healthy ones. It is not enough to just abstain from compulsive behavior. Recovery is both about having healthy boundaries AND about developing a great, healthy, happy life. What healthy areas of our life that we used to enjoy have we neglected? What are the areas or things that we would like to take up or learn that will bring us happiness and joy? Some of us in recovery have started exercise, joined a gym or took up playing sport again. Some took up new challenges, we started reading, exploring self development, started practicing the 12 steps, learned how to meditate, explored spirituality, took up courses to develop new skills at work and in life. Many took up traveling and took holidays to discover or rejuvenate themselves. Others focused on paying off debt that they had accumulated and learned to use money wisely and in a healthy way. Many started caring in a meaningful way about others, volunteering to help people around them in need. In recovery all of us made it a target to reconnect with healthy family members and friends that we had neglected in the past. We focused on developing healthy relationships with those around us that we deemed to have common interests with us and are healthy. We all started refocusing on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being.
If you are new to recovery or in the early stages, may the above suggestions provide you with food for thought and a small roadmap.
Just remember, you are not alone.