This article explains the science behind a sexual addiction relapse and helpful tips to stay on the road to recovery.
It’s easy to feel discouraged when your spouse relapses. If your partner has been seeking long-term treatment for sexual addiction, a relapse can feel devastating. Does this mean that recovery is hopeless?
As your spouse works to overcome a sexual addiction, they’re likely working towards a much greater goal than abstinence. For many, recovery work can bring about change in how they see themselves, their world, and their relationship with you. However, a recent relapse feels devastating for both of you. Does this undo all of the work that’s already been done?
What is the Science Behind Sexual Addiction and Relapse?
Sexual addiction is a new field of research, so the science behind drug addiction is helping us understand sexual addiction. The study found on Smartrecovery.org shows 40 to 60 percent of people who go through addiction treatment programs relapse at least once.
A study on Psychologytoday.org shows that most drug relapses occur within the first 90 days. Addiction rewires the brain. Therefore, it takes time for the brain to heal. As the road to recovery begins, the addict still craves the drug. Often, the cravings will intensify before they decrease. Surprisingly, it can be harder for someone with an addiction to avoid the drug of choice at day fifty than at day five. The same seems to be true for sexual addiction.
If your spouse’s sexual addiction has been numbing emotional issues, sobriety can feel very uncomfortable. If they are dealing with anxiety and depression without professional help, the risk of relapse increases.
The good news is once they reach 90 days of sobriety, their chances of abstinence increases. Once they achieve a year of sobriety, long-term recovery looks very hopeful.
Is a Sexual Addiction Relapse Bad? 3 Helpful Tips After a Sexual Addiction Relapse
Regardless of the type of addiction, relapse is a common occurrence along the road to recovery. A vital step after relapse is to tell someone rather than keep it a secret. So, if you suspect a relapse, ask. Doing so may open the door to transparency.
When a person with a sexual addiction relapses, they may feel like they have failed. They might feel like they are starting all over again. Likewise, they may begin to believe that everything they’re trying isn’t working and feel like giving up. You may share the same thoughts and fears. However, recognizing a relapse doesn’t erase the progress they’ve made can be very beneficial. Furthermore, it may encourage them to keep adding to their good habits.
So, suppose they’re already going to 12-step meetings regularly. In that case, they can add to that good habit by finding a sponsor and an accountability team. If they are already seeing a therapist, they may add on to that habit by acting upon what the therapist invites them to do. Solid habits like exercise, eating well, and spending time with friends can be added to aid in recovery. Sexual addiction recovery is a process; it doesn’t happen all at once. However, with continued recovery habits, chances of long-term recovery increase.
Another way to help your spouse after a relapse is to continue to hold boundaries. Boundaries often serve as a motivation to overcome and push through triggers.
At Fort Worth Counseling and Intervention, we can help your spouse heal from sexual addiction. We have experience helping clients understand the cues behind relapse. As a result, we can help them continue their work in long-term recovery.