• Dr. Michael Johnson

    Psychologist, Specialist in Problematic Sexual Behavior

  • Dr. Michael Johnson

    Specializing in Sex Addiction Treatment in Austin, TX

Tools of Recovery

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Abstinence : Early in recovery a period of total sexual abstinence is a benefit. Some people call this a period of celibacy. Later abstinence will come to mean abstaining from your bottom line behaviors - perhaps you inner and middle circle behaviors.

Accountability Partners and Agreements: Being accountable to someone is an important anchor for sobriety. Make an agreement with someone to check in - daily if at all possible. That person should have a list of questions -very specific questions - to ask you and that you have agreed to answer honestly. Your partner may be a member of your group, a friend in recovery, your therapist, or a good friend. A Fair Witness. An accountability partner must be someone you trust and with whom you feel safe. Shaming by and accountability partner is not acceptable. It is not recommended that your ask you life partner to be your accountability partner.

Anonymity and Confidentiality:Guard other's safety by not repeating what is heard in a meeting or other confidential setting; value yourself and others by practicing "principles before personalities." By using first names only, we guarantee that everyone will feel safe to share, and we place everyone on an equal footing. Living respectfully of others is an important thread in the fabric of recovery.

Avoid Triggering Situations:Choose to avoid triggering situations. Or make them safe if you can't avoid them. You don't have to go to business meetings at nude bars.You can tell the others that going to such places interferes with your spiritual growth. If you can't avoid some triggers such as working on a computer, make it safe for yourself. Install blocking software (so that you don't know the password), keep your door open, turn the screen toward the door, put the computer at home in a public area, never go online when you are alone. You can figure out the details. Avoiding triggers is respecting your own boundaries.

Balancing:Balancing your life is important. To help build balance you life and relationships, each day remember to develop personal relationships with people other than your partner. Engage in pleasure, education, rest, creativity, spiritual involvement, and play. Becoming compulsive about recovery does not make you sober and healthy. It merely substitutes another compulsion.

Carry Recovery With you at All Times:Carry Recovery with You. That may be reminders, cues, instructions, or anything else that will help. Those things might include:
Phone numbers of recovery friends.
Photographs of loved ones.
The 12 things to do each day to stay sober
The 12 Things to do to avoid a slip
Cost Card (add up the costs of your addiction)
A list of your bottom lines
Or anything else that will work.

Combat Physical Inactivity Spend time doing fun activities, and getting involved in sports, exercise, and other physical activities. This is useful for all addicts and particularly important for those who became sedentary with their addictions such as cyber sex addicts.

Combat Isolation Spend time with people. Isolation is a part of your disease. Find ways to be in contact with people. Meetings are good, but the company others is good to. The only limit is that those people must support your sobriety even if they don't know you are an addict

Define Your Sobriety and Bottom Line Behaviors In defining our own sobriety, we make a list of all of our acting out behaviors. Making this list is very specific and is followed by a solemn commitment to your self not to engage in those behaviors. We choose, one day and one situation at a time, not to engage in those behaviors.

Set your bottom lines, discuss your bottom lines, know your bottom lines, observer your bottom-lines. That is, after all, the bottom-line.

Higher Power It is important to explore whatever beliefs you have in a power greater than yourself. This may be God as you know God through your religious beliefs or values. Your higher power may be nature, the energy of the universe, your 12 Step group, or any other thing that is greater than you are. There are no religious requirements or beliefs necessary for recovery. Some of people have either lost their spirituality before coming to recovery and some have never had any spiritual beliefs. In recovery you may experience a new or reawakened spiritual feeling. Some of these awakened feelings may challenge your religious upbringing. Be open-minded.

Honesty:Work to eliminate denial, half truths, white lies, fibs, partial truths and overt dishonesty with ourselves and others. Tune up your crap detector.

Interrupt your Acting Develop and memorize a set of strategies to help you to avoid acting out. Use these daily.

Journaling Record your thoughts, feelings, and insights. This can be an enormous help in developing and repairing your relationship with yourself.

Literature and Learning Read some recovery literature everyday. Daily reading helps keep your focus on recovery. If you get one good new idea from a whole book, it was worth it. Become more knowledgeable about you addiction by reading relevant books and visiting informational websites

Priority One Make Recovery your number one priority. All of your hopes and plans, your very survival depends on your recovery. It may not make sense at the beginning but your order of priority should be:

First, Sobriety
Second, Physical and Mental Health
Third, Financial
Fourth, Family Relationships

Meetings Meetings are where we share our experience, strength and hope with each other to better understand our common problem and work together towards the solution. This is where you meet other recovering addicts. We failed to do it alone, but we can do it together. You can listen to others tell of what it was like, what happened to them and what it is like now. You listen for the similarities and discard the differences. In these meetings you learn valuable information about your disease and how the 12-step program works. Members give and receive support, work the steps, and share experience, strength and hope in a safe environment. At first, attend as many meetings as you can. If possible, attend meetings daily for the first 90 days and to practice abstinence to the best of your ability.

One Day at a Time The thought of making a pledge to never act out sexually again can be discouraging and overwhelming. It's important not to worry about the past or project the future, just stay in the moment. If necessary take it one hour or even one minute at a time. If you become overwhelmed by tasks to be accomplished, make yourself a list of things to do. Keep them small and simple. Tasks that can be accomplished in five minutes or less can be as rewarding as major long-term tasks. Especially in that moment of confusion and bewilderment. Be mindful when your attention is not in the moment. When your mind dwells in the future or the past, you can do nothing. Remember, the only time you can ever do anything is right now.

Prayer and Meditation Regular spiritual practices that help us connect with our Higher Power strengthen recovery. We seek guidance and strength; also turning things over to our Higher Power. This is a means of are means of establishing conscious contact with a Power greater than ourselves.

Professional Help Your addiction may have been a subconscious way of self-medicating yourself for wounds you carry from your earlier life. It is important to work with a professional who understands sexual addiction or is willing to learn. This is another way to keep yourself on the path of recovery. Remember that recovery is much more than abstinence from sexually addictive behaviors. You may want to seek out group therapy, individual therapy, or both. If possible, including your spouse or partner in therapy, both individually and as a couple, can be a great benefit to the recovery of both and to your relationship.

Service Service is helping ourselves by helping others. Service includes participating in activities that support the your 12 Step group as a whole, including leading meetings, sponsoring, reaching out to newcomers, telling your story, serving as treasurer, writing an article for the newsletter, or volunteering in other ways. You may serve by helping your neighbors, volunteering in your church, and so on. The benefit of service is not limited to serving in the recovery community. The benefit is in connecting with others through their needs rather than your own.

Set Boundaries Personal boundaries became blurred or even non-existent when we were in our sexual addiction. Part of recovery is identifying appropriate boundaries or limits with respect to people, places and activities. For example, we might choose to set a boundary regarding keeping company with people who continue in their addictions. This is self-protective and healthy. When we were in our addiction there was nothing we would not do and nothing we felt we could not or should not do. Now, in recovery, we must set boundaries to keep ourselves healthy and safe.

Sharing at Meetings Being honest and vulnerable in front of fellow recovering addicts is frightening but worth it. Many of us believe we recover in direct proportion to our willingness to share. Some recovering addicts commit to talking during the discussion time in each meeting.

Slogans Slogans are simple statements that can be used in crisis situations, so that we have some basic guidelines. These include...
One Day at a Time
*Live and Let Live
*Easy Does It
*Progress, Not Perfection
*First Things First *Keep It Simple
*Let Go and Let God *
HOW (How our program works: Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness)
*HALT (Not allowing ourselves to become too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired)
Sponsorship As part of the surrender process, we admit our weaknesses and we ask others for help. A sponsor is a recovering addict with more sobriety and Program experience than you. Your sponsor, should be someone with whom you can communicate. A sponsor provides a framework for a recovery plan, working the Twelve Steps, and can bring emotional support at difficult times. Find a sponsor immediately, even if they are only temporary. You can always change later if the relationship does not work out.

Support Network Meeting with other people to discuss your journey helps you to know you are not alone and allows you to get another perspective on your struggles. Cultivate communication with other recovering people between meetings, either by phone, the Internet or in person; asking for support when needed. These relationships are best cultivated in non-crisis times. Some recovering people commit to talk with someone everyday.

Telephone The Telephone is your lifeline between meetings. Get phone numbers from other members in your program. Get use to calling someone daily. It is an important way to break out of the isolation that is so strongly a part of the disease. You may be shy and hesitant at first but by training yourself to call someone, it will be easy to place that call when that moment of crisis arises. And it will!

The "S.A.F.E" Formula The "S.A.F.E" Formula is an easy way to define addiction. If the following elements are present, then the person's sexual problems could be called an addiction:
Secret - It is a secret. Anything that cannot pass public scrutiny will create the shame of a double life.
Abusive- It is abusive to self or others. Anything that is exploitive or harmful to others of degrades oneself will activate the addictive system.
Feelings- It is used to avoid or is a source of painful feelings. If sexuality is used to alter moods or results in painful mood shifts it is clearly part of the addictive process
Empty - It is empty of a caring committed relationship. Fundamental to the whole concept of addiction and recovery is the healthy dimension of human relationships. The addict runs a great risk by being sexual outside a committed relationship.
The Twelve Steps Working the steps is the foundation of recovery; they are a set of spiritual practices for personal growth and recovery. Meetings may keep you sober for some time, but the Twelve Steps are vital for a stable and happy recovery. The Steps are the means by which you move from the problem of addiction to the solution of recovery. You learn about the Steps by reading the literature, by attending Step study meetings, and by working with a knowledgeable sponsor.

Read the 12 Steps and Work them. Join a step study, discuss a step at your 12 Step meetings, with your sponsor, therapist, accountability partner and others who are supportive of your recovery. But Work The Steps.

Workshops, conferences and retreats provide opportunities to spend more time focused on the recovery and in the company of like-lived others.


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