Triggers and emotional cravings relating to mental difficulties are very common for those of us in recovery during the holiday season. We previously discussed three different types of cravings individuals might face in addiction recovery, one of the most complex of these being emotional cravings. This week I want to dive deeper into the concept of emotional cravings and just how prominent they can be during the notoriously stressful holiday season.
Relationships - Debunking Addiction
Conversations about your sex addiction are almost always a daunting task, but the conversations take on even higher stakes when you're confessing your secret sins to your family members. Some sex addicts keep their taboo desires and habits hidden from their loved ones for years or even decades; while others, like myself, choose to go all in and tell their family only a few months into the madness of active addiction. The conversations about sex addiction are never easy, but in my opinion, they can be extremely helpful in creating a healthy, transparent space with the people you love most.
As this decade is reaching its end, I am reminded of how long behavioral addictions have haunted me and exactly how far I've come. Around 2010, I first began exploring my sexuality as a teenager and I quickly learned how helpful sex could be as a coping skill for a struggling and defiant teenager like myself. Over time though, I wasn't just relying on sex to cope, my tendency to rely on certain behaviors or activities to survive slowly spread to nearly every area of my life including things like food, social media, shopping, and probably even others that I'm not fully aware of. Behavioral addictions are especially tricky to conquer because they commonly involve the most regular and routine aspects of our lives and they often go completely unnoticed.
In my observation, nearly every individual in addiction recovery has either heard of or experienced the 12-step groups or the 12-step curriculum. Some recovering addicts swear by 12-step practices and principles and other addicts convulse at the thought of attending a 12-step group meeting to share their feelings with a bunch of addicted strangers. I feel that I have a rather unique perspective on the 12-step model because while I don't actively participate in every principle and policy they suggest, I have developed a deep respect and admiration for the community as a whole and what they represent.
As a recovering addict, I have been fortunate enough to encounter many methods of recovery, including but not limited to the 12-step group for sex addiction. I first found my way to the most common group options like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and eventually, I discovered the variety of sex addiction-related 12-step groups available. After spending plenty of time in the 12-step group world, I can honestly say that I'm abundantly grateful for the recovery work they do within the community. However, I cannot give 12-step groups all the credit in regards to my recovery experience and maintaining sobriety.
I spent most of my time in active addiction fearful of what others would think about me; but when I slowly began to open up about my sex addiction, I was incredibly surprised by the reactions I received from people. Some individuals pleasantly surprised me with their love and support, others made me feel like a piece of garbage, and a few of them completely creeped me out. Nonetheless, I am grateful I finally spoke up about my sex addiction, because I know now that the reactions from other people (even people I love) don't get to define me.
“I just want to be normal. I don’t know what it’s like,” cried a tear-soaked heroin addict during a tough-love intervention. Her cry came after about 15 minutes of being yelled at, belittled, and degraded in front of 1000 viewers, all in the name of tough love. My heart broke into pieces for her because I’ve been that woman. I wanted to reach through my screen, hug her and tell her how precious she is. Tough love for addicts doesn't work.
Setting or maintaining boundaries with family and friends may be difficult if you are in recovery from addiction. The difficulty of setting limitations with others is a natural thing to experience in recovery because when you were in active addiction it’s likely that your boundaries were severely blurred or even nonexistent. The lack of boundaries in your life at the time may have led to manipulation, abuse, allowing others to take advantage of you and put you in harm’s way. It also leads to codependency in relationships, which likely fed your addiction and kept it active. But now you are in recovery, and it’s time to learn that setting and maintaining boundaries is essential to your recovery.
Do you fear addiction recovery? During my active addiction, I feared everything. Fear was the driving emotion in my life. I was afraid of an unknown future and was most afraid of becoming sober. I'd become comfortable in my mess and just the thought of anything different frightened me. The fear of addiction recovery hid itself in my untruths.
Sponsorship during addiction recovery is one of the tenets of 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Many who have gotten, and remained, clean and sober have done so with the help of a sponsor guiding them through the process of recovery. While it has proven to be an effective tool in 12-step circles, some wonder whether sponsorship in addiction recovery is really an important element.