I’ve been in and out of recovery for years, trying to get a grip on my porn addiction. I have not achieved any meaningful sobriety yet, but I do think I have an idea on what is needed in order or to do so, which I found myself scribbling into my notebook late one night recently, and I thought I’d share it.
This is based on my own experience, general addiction-related reading, attending SAA, and conversations with other addicts.
I’d love to hear what others think – especially from those who have had success – did you follow a similar strategy? Or did something completely different work for you? I have no idea if this would work, but I feel like is along the right lines, or at least a pretty good starting point.
Apologies for the use of “you” – this isn’t intended as a guide for anyone other than me; it is just easier to write that way.
6 Ingredients For Recovery
- Trigger Plan
1 and 2 are the most important of them all. Without motivation, you will struggle to find the drive to put in the hard work needed for success. Everyone’s source of motivation will be different, but we all need to find it, store it, and remember it constantly.
Write down a statement reminding you of why you are trying to beat your addiction, and read it without fail 2 or 3 times a day. Keep it short, including the damage done/could be done, the benefits of sobriety, and promise to yourself about what you will do on this very day you are reading it.
Discipline for me = routine + consistency. Coming up with a routine that keeps me focussed, and doing it every day without fail. The routine can include things like checking in with the NoFap community (or other group e.g. SAA), reading the motivation statement from point 1, meditation, exercise, practicing empathy and compassion to others, going to bed on time, limiting gaming and other distractions, journaling etc. Pick a small selection that work for you and that, most importantly, you can stick to.
It is far better to start small and stick to it, than to start big and fail. Once you nail the small routines, you can evolve/add to them.
You can’t get sober alone; you need support from others. This isn’t optional. It could be your partner, a close friend, members of an online community or SAA/SLAA-type groups. Personally, I would recommend confiding in someone you actually know (family or friend), and a dedicated addiction group, as each can offer different things. It is also a great barrier to break – telling someone you know is one of the hardest things to do, but I feel like doing it is a right of passage; a step on a journey that you need to do at some point, and if you can’t, you might need to ask yourself why not.
4. Trigger plan
No matter how well things go, there are times when you’re going to want to act out. You need a plan to protect yourself. It starts with identification – knowing yourself and what triggers you, so you can take steps in advance of reaching the danger zone. E.g. are you tired, irritable, angry, stressed? Once you’ve identified this in yourself, then take action – make sure you’re not alone, do some exercise, call a friend, go to bed early (without a phone/tv/computer), whatever is going to keep you furthest away from temptation. If you can acknowledge the zone you’re in to others that will be a huge help.
We are conditioned to see acting out as the ultimate comforter. When we remove this, we need to replace with a different, healthy method of rewarding and comforting yourself. Maybe it is (limited) gaming, or music, movies, exercise, hanging with friends, perhaps a slice of cake, or mowing the lawn. Whatever it is, focus on it – realise this is something that you enjoy and you have earned and allow yourself to enjoy it.
Most of the above is all about the practicalities of staying sober. I.e. how not to do something. But that’s only half of recovery. The other half is what else you are going to do. Recovery means looking at your life differently, embracing it, and acting differently. It means practicing empathy, humility, honesty and gratitude, and it means being present in every moment, every day, to fully appreciate your life. Things like meditation, and mentions in the daily recovery statement, can help with this.