Sharing Hope

A client of mine developed these stages based on his own personal struggle

with his Recovery. I hope you find it helpful.



THE THREE STAGES OF RECOVERY:


Having been in the SAA Recovery Program now for over 12 years and having had two (2) major relapses, and therefore three (3) “Starts” – the most recent 6 months ago – while at the same time observing countless other “fellow addicts”, I have developed a theory that there are three (3) stages of recovery, and that all that have attended our meetings are in one of these stages.


Stage I.Serving some other purpose: 


Many attend every home meeting, but at this point in their recovery have seemingly no intention of working the program nor becoming sober. Their attendance is for serving some other purpose. These people normally do not have a sponsor, or if so, they have found a weak one, and for-the-most-part only attend one meeting a week. Many substitute a step workshop for a sponsor as a way to limit accountability. They rarely attend recovery social events. The two classes within this group that I have experienced and observed most frequently are:


  1. The ones who love their addiction and have no intent of giving it up. They enjoy the secret life and the excitement it provides. The more they get by with, the more they find rationalization for what they are doing. They keep moving from one acting-out behavior to another, seeking greater and greater thrills. Most have less than 30 days clean time even though they may have been attending meetings for several months, some even years. They seem to have no reservation admitting recent compulsive activities. This way, they do not have to “save face” when they relapse, or even collapse. They normally contribute very little to the topic discussions.
  2. This group is a variation of #1. They also have come to love their addiction and are attending only to appease someone else in their life, in an attempt to portray that they are “working the program” and trying to become well, but for-the-most-part they plan to keep on acting out and keeping it their secret. They “white-knuckle” to get through the times that their failings would seem obvious to the one(s) they are trying to fool. Unlike their “brothers and sisters” above, they do claim periods of clean time. They give the appearance that they “have found the secret to recovery” and require very little nurturing along the way, many not even having a sponsor. They do tend to participate in the topic discussions since they want to give the air of someone who is truly working their program. Some will even take on sponsees to add credence to their stories. Most will eventually slip up, however, be caught, and will have to start their program over again, sometimes with no more sincerity than before. Only if they really “hit bottom” will they start over with earnest and progress to stage II or III.


Stage II. Achieving “An Acceptable Level of Misery”


These are the ones who have been in the program for several months or years, who have made an effort to work the program, many with a sponsor, and somewhere along the process have severed that relationship and convinced themselves that they have made all the progress they need to, and are willing to retain the few addictive tendencies that they still have. They have achieved what can be called "An Acceptable Level of Misery." They are comfortable where they are in the recovery process.


You will hear these attendees say things like “Given the circumstances of last Friday, if it was a year ago, I would have been in my full addiction again.” I have really made a lot of progress in my program.”

Most, even if they still have a sponsor, have quit working the steps. In check-in they rarely talk about step work and instead mainly share circumstances currently surrounding their life, most of which have nothing to do with recovery. They have decided that any further step work is too much effort for what they want to achieve, and are content to live with an acting out behavior every-now-and-then. Some have even convinced themselves that masturbation or an occasional “skin flick” is okay – after all it does not hurt anyone. They are great at rationalizing that they are “working their program.” They are also once-a-week (or less) attendees, but because they have worked some of the program they normally are contributors to the topic discussions. Many even feel qualified to have sponsees. With this group, it will probably take a lot to kick-start them back into full recovery.


Stage III. Have found the spirituality of the program.


These are the ones you want to associate with if you truly want to find recovery. They have come from many different routes, some of them even through the stages listed above, but have found a solid sponsor and are truly working the program. They have invoked their Higher Power in their lives, and have surrendered to Divine will. Most of them you can identify by being very active in sponsorship. They understand that recovery is an every day activity and have established a desire, and therefore a routine, to engage in recovery work often. Many have come from other 12-step fellowships, finally recognizing that sex addiction has always been their real bottom line behavior. They often attend more than one meeting a week, and are quick to contribute to the discussion topic, drawing from their own experience, strength, and hope to share how their working of the program has been successful in their life.


They talk about step work constantly, and invoke references to the Higher Power often. They have discovered that any recovery success has to include the miracles that can only come from this source.  Some have organized small support groups that facilitate focusing on the steps and cause real accountability. Phone calls between them are often. They have developed true, deep friendships and camaraderie. Most are very active in servitude, and are the lifeblood of many meetings, and the fellowship.


So, the question becomes, which of these three groups are you in? If you are not in Stage III, you owe it to yourself to make an effort to do it. Major Warning: you cannot do it alone. You need to work the program with a good sponsor (and a good therapist) and start a true pathway to the ultimate control of your addiction. There are many standing by in stage III wanting to help you, wanting you to enjoy the same peace that they do.  Won’t you give it a try?


Another client knew that his recovery depended on having an action plan that Patrick Carnes refers to as a FIRE DRILL. He has graciously agreed to submit his plan, so you can see what he needs to do to stay in recovery. This exercise comes directly out of the Facing The Shadows Workbook which I believe, 

next to the SAA Big Book, is the Bible Workbook for recovery!


FIRE DRILL STEPS:


1. Identify Symptom / Trouble Area Practice  

2. Create Drill Steps  

3. Incorporate Immediate Action Steps


1) Objectifying Women


Practice or Drill Steps: 

Think about situations where I'm like to find this temptation and mentally run through my action steps

Practice by thinking about the qualities that makes a woman a person and not an object 

When faced with opportunity and looking at women I will focus on faces and not look any lower than than that

 

Immediate Action Steps:

3 second rule - not allow myself to stare 

Pray to God for strength/ turn my will over to God 

Call my Sponsor or someone in the SAA program for support 

Think about what my intention is 

Acknowledge that the object of my interest is a person with feelings, hope and dreams and deserves to be treated and viewed as a complete person

Ask myself if I like being a thought of as voyeur (I don't) 

Refocus my thinking 

Mentally recite a prayer 

Acknowledge to myself that I am addict and that this Middle Circle behavior leads to Inner Circle behavior and trouble 

Think about the consequences of this behavior / Review consequence list 

Think about what is the next right thing to do 

If possible read the Green Book 

Attend an SAA meeting if possible or as soon as possible


2) Fantasizing about women


Practice or Drill Steps: 
Think about situations where I'm likely to find this temptation and mentally run through my action steps 
Hold a practice drill where I pretend I'm struggling with this behavior and then practice my steps 
Spend time think of health ways to think about about women, what personality/character qualities are important to me? 
Make a list of women I admire and refer to this list when tempted to fantasize about women 


Immediate Action Steps: 
3 second rule - not allow myself to stare 
Pray to God for strength / turn my will over to God 
Call my Sponsor or someone in the SAA program for support 
Remove myself from the situation/environment. Go somewhere where I am not able to act out (Mall, Store, etc) 
Pray to God for strength 
Think about what my intention is 
Acknowledge that the object of my interest is a person with feelings, hope and dreams and deserves to be treated and viewed as a complete person 
Refocus my thinking / find something else to do 
Mentally recite a prayer 
Acknowledge to myself that I am addict and that this Middle Circle behavior leads to Inner Circle behavior and trouble 
Think about what is the next right thing to do 
Think about the consequences of this behavior / review consequence list 
If possible read the Green Book 
Review my consequence list 
Attend an SAA meeting if possible or as soon as possible 
Review list of women I admire and think about the women I am objectifying in these healthier terms 


3) Imagery / TV / Movies


Practice or Drill Steps: 

Think about situations where I'm like to find this temptation and mentally run through my action steps 
Hold a practice drill where I pretend I'm struggling with this behavior and then practice my steps 
Practice checking shows/movies ratings/content (Don't go in blind) 


Immediate Action Steps: 
3 second rule - not allow myself to stare 
Pray to God for strength/ turn my will over to God 
Remove myself from the situation/environment 
Call my Sponsor or someone in the SAA program for support 
Pray to God for strength 
Think about what my intention is 
Acknowledge that the object of my interest is a person with feelings, hope and dreams and deserves to be treated and viewed as a complete person 
Refocus my thinking / find something else to do 
Mentally recite a prayer 
Acknowledge to myself that I am addict and that this Middle Circle behavior leads to Inner Circle behavior and trouble 
Think about what is the next right thing to do 
Think about the consequences of this behavior / review consequence list 
If possible read the Green Book 
Review consequence list 
Attend an SAA meeting if possible or as soon as possible 


4) Lusting over a woman


Practice or Drill Steps

Think about situations where I'm like to find this temptation and mentally run through my action steps 
Journal feelings / emotions that are contributing to this behavior 
Work on developing a healthier sexual mentality and sexual expression that fulfills my needs 
Incorporate this issue into my 12 steps 


Immediate Action Steps: 
Think about my partner and ask myself if I want to really commit emotional infidelity 
Call my Sponsor or someone in the program for support 
Pray to God for strength/ turn my will over to God 
Think about what my intention is here 
Acknowledge what the underlying cause is for this behavior and refocus my thinking 
Mentally recite a prayer 
Acknowledge to myself that I am addict and that this Middle Circle behavior leads to Inner Circle behavior and trouble 
Think about what is the next right thing to do 
Think about the consequences of this behavior / review consequence list 
If possible read the Green Book 
Attend an SAA meeting if possible or as soon as possible


5) Temptation to view pornography /visit porn sites
Practice or Drill Steps 

Think about situations where I'm like to find this temptation and mentally run through my action steps 
Practice time management when on the Internet 
Use the Internet for specific purposes that fit within my Outer Circle. Don't use the Internet to alleviate boredom. 
Regularly review Middle Circle behaviors and develop boundaries that keep me safe while on the Internet (i.e. Move computer / use computer in family room, use computer when others are present, etc.) 


Immediate Action Steps: 
Call my Sponsor or someone in the SAA program for support 
Think about my partner and ask myself if I want to really to be unfaithful and commit adultery 
Pray to God for strength/ turn my will over to God 
Remove myself from the situation/environment. Go somewhere where I am not able to act out (Mall, Store, etc) 
Think about what my intention is here 
Acknowledge what the underlying cause is for this behavior and refocus my thinking 
Mentally recite a prayer 
Acknowledge to myself that I am addict and that this Middle Circle behavior leads to Inner Circle behavior and trouble 
Think about what is the next right thing to 
If possible read the Green Book 
Attend an SAA meeting if possible or as soon as possible 


6) Boredom


Practice or Drill Steps:

Think about situations where I'm like to find this temptation and mentally run through my action steps 
Practice meditation and "stillness" as a means to less the significance of boredom 
Create structure in my day. Have a plan for work, play and relaxation. Stick to the plan 
Create a list of things I like to do and when bored pick an activity from the list 
Engage in Service Work 
Spend more time with Family and Friends 


Immediate Action Steps: 
Seek family or friends to spend time with 
Engage in healthy hobby / activity 
Physical Exercise 
Read a book 
Do SAA Program work 
Do Service Work or help family / friend 
House/car maintenance 
Go for a walk 
Call my Sponsor or connect with someone in the SAA program 
Meditate / practice "stillness" 
Work on a project around the house 
Work on daily living activities (laundry, cleaning, etc.) 
Attend an SAA meeting if possible or as soon as possible 


7) Stress


Practice or Drill Steps:

Think about situations where I'm like to find this temptation and mentally run through my action steps 
Practice meditation and "stillness" as a means to less the significance of boredom 
Know the warning signs of stress and back off what's giving rise to stress 
Explore new coping mechanisms to address stress 
Practice sharing my real fears/concerns with my partner, family, friends, Sponsor, or a friend in the SAA Program 
Work on facing stress head-on 


Immediate Action Steps:
Step back and assess the cause of my stress. Ask myself what I can do to eliminate or lessen the stress 
Take break from the environment / activity 
Share feelings / get support from partner, family, friends, Sponsor, or a friend in the SAA Program 
Meditate 
Turn my will over to God 
Physical Exercise 
Engage in healthy hobby or activity 
Rest / rejuvenate 
Read a book 
Do SAA Program work 
Do Service Work or help family / friends 
Go for a walk 
Call my Sponsor or someone in the SAA Program for support 
Attend an SAA meeting if possible or as soon as possible 


8) Not sharing feelings / not being open or honest


Practice or Drill Steps: 

Think about situations where I'm like to find this temptation and mentally run through my action steps 
Work on sharing feelings as part of my "Daily 10" exercise 
Make time to have meaning conversations and share true feelings, even if they may not be what the other person wants to hear and even though they are not the most comfortable to share. 
Practice honesty with self. When thinking, don't avoid the honest truth by making rationalizations or excuses 
Make a list of good things about telling the truth and perceived bad things. Also make a list of bad things about not telling the truth and the perceived advantages of not telling the truth. Compare the list and reference them when tempted to not be open and honest 
Explore / work on fears and concerns about being open and honest. Envision what's the worst that can happen when being open and honest. Contrast this with the alternative. Which approach is the most healthy? Which leads to greater problems, stress and anxiety? Which outcome do I want?

 
Immediate Action Steps: 
Step back and evaluate the reasons for my reluctance to be open and honest. Ask myself what I can do to change this 
Pray to God for courage and strength 
Pray to God re: matters that I struggle with. Ask for help and guidance and openness to see his will and the courage to do my part/ turn my will over to God 
Seek support from my Sponsor or someone else in the SAA Program 
Think about the impact this is having on my partner, family, friends and Me. Ask myself if any of us deserve this? 
Think about the consequences of not being open and honest. Remember where being dishonest and secretive will lead. 
Acknowledge what the underlying cause is for this behavior and take action steps to change it 
Acknowledge to myself that I am addict and that this Middle Circle behavior leads to Inner Circle behavior and trouble 
Think about what is the next right thing to do 
If possible read the Green Book 
Work the 12 steps to gain clarity and strength 
Attend an SAA meeting if possible or as soon as possible 


9) Isolating myself


Practice or Drill Steps: 

Think about situations where I'm like to find this temptation and mentally run through my action steps

Work on sharing feelings as part of my "Daily 10" exercise
Practice limiting alone time and use it in positive ways, such as for reflecting, rejuvenating, engaging in hobbies / interests
Keep in regular contact with loved ones, family and friends.
Exchange isolation for solitude. Make a list of healthy activities that require solitude and engage in these activities when tempted to become isolated
Explore the reasons why I want to isolate. What purpose does the isolation serve? What is this telling about myself? What better ways could I handle issues that lead me to isolate? What role does truth avoidance and my secret life play in isolation? If fear of judgement, rejection or something was not a concern would you isolate yourself?
Identify the warning signs isolation and know what starts me down this path.


Immediate Action Steps: 
Make contact with my Sponsor, an SAA Member, friend, family member, etc. 
Spend time with loved one /kids/ family / friends 
Connect with God through prayer, reading the bible, etc. 
Journal feelings that are making me feel like isolating myself. 
Get out of the house and go somewhere where I can around people 
Engage in Service Work 
Go for a walk or exercise with someone 
Engage in a recreational activity with others 
Avoid behaviors that contribute to lessening my ability to make good decisions (pity, self hate, drinking, going to bars, spending money/buying things, etc) 
Attend an SAA meeting if possible or as soon as possible.


9) Drinking in social situations


Practice or Drill Steps:

Think about situations where I'm like to find this temptation and mentally run through my action steps
Know my limits and practice staying within those limits
Know when to say no or take a pass on going out
Take a pass from time to time on going out
Stay with those I came with and not get abandoned / left behind by my friends.


Immediate Action Steps:
Prior to going out review boundaries for this situation
Stick to the plan (don't go to places that are not suitable for my situation ( Singles Bars, Strip Clubs, etc)
Remove myself from the environment if I feel vulnerable and call someone to get out the environment if I have to.
Call my Sponsor or someone in the SAA Program for support
Think about what my intention is here
Think about the consequences of making bad decisions
Think about my loved one and ask myself if I want to really to be run the risk of being unfaithful or committing adultery 
Acknowledge what the underlying cause is for this behavior and refocus my thinking
Mentally recite a prayer
Pray to God for strength/ turn my will over to God
Acknowledge to myself that I am addict and that this Middle Circle behavior leads to Inner Circle behavior and trouble
Think about what is the next right thing to do
If possible read the Green Book
Attend an SAA meeting if possible or as soon as possible


10) Slacking off on the Program


Practice or Drill Steps: 

Have set meetings that I plan to attend each week. 
Manage time and make time for working my Program 
Review the SAA 12 Steps and the "Promises" regularly to remind me of the value of recovery and why I need to work the program 
Stay connected to the SAA group; reach out and make regular calls 
Be faithful to my responsibilities as a Sponsee and to myself as a person who deserve a better life 
Set Program goals. Know what I need to achieve in working my Program and be clear on why I want to achieve them 
Challenge anything my addict tells me. He's got insight, but not solutions 
Practice action, avoid complacency it is the enemy 
Set Program goals (Sobriety, Step Completing, Clean Time, etc) 


Immediate Action Steps: 
Seek God and know Gods will for me. Be loyal to his will 
Attend an SAA meeting as soon as possible 
Reflect on the years of pain and isolation. Reconnect with how bad it was and realize how much I don't want to return to that way of life. 
Review my consequence inventory to motivate me 
Remind myself that I am an addict I am helpless against my addiction, but I am not hopeless. Remind myself that my only salvation comes from believing in God and working the program daily, every day...this is the only way for me. 
Think about those who have believed in me, stuck by me and supported me. Do serious soul searching...am I willing to let them down? What do I need to do to honor myself and them 
Stay in touch with my Sponsor 
Stay in touch with SAA group members 
Take inventory of what the impact will be if I don't work my Program. What do I stand to loose? Is it worth it? What will my life be if I fail to work the Program?


                                                                                

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