The Sex Addict
If You Have Slipped and Relapsed, Get Honest
Coping with stress means staying in the present and evaluating how you feel in this very moment. How would you rate your stress today on a scale of 1 to 10? I know that if you’ve been ravaged by addiction, you’re probably closer to a 1. What I do believe to be true is when you are working a good recovery program, you’re moving towards a 10. When you learn how to live in the moment, you have gratitude for what is happening to you today and you stay proactive and ask yourself “what can I do to work a solid recovery program today,” you are more likely to do the next right thing in your recovery.
So, what happens when you’re moving towards recovery and you slip or relapse? Slipping is when you click on an image or look at a women’s catalogue or jump on an adult personal site but you don’t do a “deep dive” into the addictive behavior. A relapse is when you increase the slip in terms of the intensity and frequency and/or you slip periodically for 3,4,5,6, times, 3,4,5,6 weeks, 3,4,5,6 months and find yourself compulsively participating in addictive behaviors. Addicts who have been in recovery and really want to get healthy do not want to slip or relapse, for themselves and for others around them. There are people that look up to them. If they have a spouse or partner, they want to continue to build trust.
There are addicts who go right into denial when they slip or relapse. They deceive themselves and their spouses. They’re hoping and praying this is the last time. They hesitate to tell their spouse, their fellowship or their sponsor because they hope they can get back on track which keeps them in that state of denial and perpetual lies. History should tell them they are back in the sexual addictive cycle again.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a commonly known belief that slips or relapses are a part of recovery. Sexual addiction is a process addiction, and the recovery program requires that you work to avoid slips and relapses at any cost. It is very hard to maintain sobriety and recovery, but when you work a solid recovery program you move right into honesty even if you fear conflict.
When you have slipped or relapsed, the first thing a recovering addict says is “I’m going to get back on track.” The addict who is not focused on getting honest will say, “I’m going to stop tomorrow or this is my last time” and then they act out again. Getting back on track means using all the recovery tools with rigor. It means immediately calling your sponsor and sharing your secret of slipping or relapsing. It means following the agreement you have with your spouse. If she wants to know about slips or relapses, you are obligated to notify her immediately to ensure that you are serious about working on honesty which is at the foundation of good recovery. It is recommended not to go longer than 24 hours without disclosing. It’s too much anxiety for the sex addict. And it is triggering for the spouse. It actually can work toward rebuilding trust with the spouse if you share it right away. I have worked with many spouses who have said, “I wasn’t happy that he slipped but it felt reassuring that he told me immediately.”
I’ve had many an addict who felt like it was the wrong time to share the slip with a wife or husband because graduation was right around the corner or their anniversary was in two days or the wife had a hard week at work and it would just throw the spouse over the edge if she knew there was a slip. If you have a verbal contract with your wife it is imperative that you honor that first. The longer you wait, the harder it gets, and I am here to let you know that it’s easier, it’s healthier, and it will make you feel better about yourself if you come clean right away.
Please be honest, because the program and our work together is all about honesty. What I know to be true from my certification with partners is that honesty is at the core of trust. If you want to regain trust, you’ve got to be honest even if there are profound consequences from it. Many partners have said, “I didn’t want to hear that, but what I know is that I wanted him or her to be honest more than anything.” You can do that, you can be honest, I promise you that. It takes a lot of guts, it takes a lot of courage, it takes a lot of integrity, but that helps you to get back on the right track. So, don’t let a slip or a relapse cause you to lose your integrity. What we know about sexual addiction is … if you don’t come clean, the actual offense gets worse in terms of frequency and intensity, and that is the promise of a process addiction.