This is a question that people struggling with out of control sexual behaviors sometimes ask. They want to know what the cure is so they can stop engaging in self-destructive behaviors and move on with their life. But there’s no way that one can eliminate the behaviors without modifying the beliefs that guide those behaviors. And that takes time…and patience.
Recovery as a Process
It’s actually more helpful to think of recovery from sex addiction as a process of healing, rather than a cure. That’s why addicts in recovery say they are recovering rather than recovered. Recovery is a process, not an event. It’s like exercise for your spirit. Just like you can’t go to the gym for a week and expect to be fit for the rest of your life, you can’t expect to go to therapy for a few weeks and expect to be equipped with the tools to overcome this addiction. Those tools are acquired by hard-won effort—by taking actions proven by others to work. You take action one day at a time and those days add up. There is no other way around it.
For example, could you imagine taking a pill that would suddenly make you able to ask for help when you were struggling, be unflinchingly honest with yourself, and be capable of being intimate with another person? Could a pill show you what it is like to abstain from sex for 90 days and experience how much more to life there is than sex? Could a pill replace the experience of attending a group and hearing someone articulate exactly what you were feeling, but just couldn’t find the right words for? The obvious answer is no. These are actions you must take consistently in order to create experiences that will fundamentally change your belief system. And a new belief system—one that includes the belief that you are a lovable human being exactly as you are—is one of the best weapons against the disease of sex addiction.
With repeated effort and significant time away from your acting-out behaviors you will not grapple with this addiction the same way you did in early recovery. The more open-minded, honest, and willing you are in your recovery process from day one, the more freedom you will experience later on. In fact, it is not rare for recovering sex addicts to develop a healthier sense of sexuality than people who never struggled with it in the first place.
As you learn how to get your needs met in a healthy, positive way, your cravings will subside significantly. Eventually you’ll stop acting out because you know in your bones it won’t actually solve anything, because you have developed a sense of dignity, and perhaps most importantly, because you genuinely want more of the freedom your new life has given you. And because recovery is a process there is no limit to the freedom you can experience.
Maybe “Is there a cure?” is not the best question. Perhaps “Can I be free of this addiction?” is a better question. And my follow-up question to you is this.
How free do you want to be?