Tips for Sex Addicts: Staying Sexually Sober in the Holiday Season

Sex Addiction and the Holidays

The holidays are here again. Some people view this as the most wonderful time of the year. For recovering sex, porn and love addicts, however, this is more likely to be seen as the most stressful time of the year. Not only must we deal with our loved ones and their holiday neediness, we must deal with the incredibly unrealistic societal expectations of unbridled seasonal joy. Then we’ve got the in-laws, extra shopping, cleaning and cooking, etc. Not to mention all the work and neighborhood holiday parties where certain people might have an extra eggnog and get a little “friendly” in ways that trigger our addiction. It’s a lot to deal with, and if we’re not diligent about our recovery and more general forms of self-care, the risk of relapse increases exponentially.

Admittedly, even for sex addicts the holidays are usually peppered with occasional bursts of cheer, connection and joy. But mostly they’re stressful and triggering. And when we’ve got some extra free time, as happens when we get a bit of holiday time off from work, we may find ourselves reverting to old thought patterns and ideas like, “I’ve got four hours to shop but I only need two. With that extra time I could act out and nobody would know.” So is it any wonder that even the most firmly grounded addicts sometimes find themselves struggling during the holidays?

Managing Holiday Temptations

The good news is if you are diligent about maintaining your sobriety, you can overcome the temptations — and if you do stay sexually sober you are much more likely to intimately connect and truly enjoy the season with your loved ones.

Obviously, this is not the time of year to start skipping 12-step meetings and therapy sessions. In fact, you might want to schedule an extra therapy session and hit a few extra meetings during the holidays. It can’t hurt, right? Nor could a few extra check-ins with your 12-step sponsor and/or your close friends in recovery. (These folks are probably just as stressed out as you are, and just as in need of empathetic support from a person who understands them, so they’ll appreciate you calling to check in with them.)

Unfortunately, holiday self-care for recovering sex, porn and love addicts doesn’t end with just the work of recovery. There is more to be done. For starters, you might want to create a daily mindfulness check-in for the holiday season, asking yourself questions like:

  • Am I feeling lonely, sad, angry, fearful and/or isolated? If so, what are my plans for dealing with these emotions in a healthy way?
  • Am I engaging in addictive fantasies? If so, am I keeping these addictive fantasies secret? And what are my plans for dealing with these in a healthy, non-addictive way?
  • Do I have unrealistic holiday expectations for myself, my family, my work, upcoming parties and/or anything else? If so, what can I do to combat this?
  • Am I likely to encounter any past or potential “acting out partners” in the course of my day or at an upcoming event? If so, what are my plans for dealing with this?
  • Am I getting enough rest, eating properly, and taking care of my physical needs via exercise and other forms of self-care?
  • Do I have a workable plan for handling the inevitable holiday disappointments?
  • Have I built enough structure and accountability into my holiday time to remain sober and stable — even happy?

Staying Connected

This sort of check-in is most useful when it’s done with another person — your 12-step sponsor, a friend in recovery, and possibly your spouse if he/she is willing to participate. In fact, if your partner is willing to hear your check-in and perhaps to give a similar check-in, it’s a great way for the two of you to bond during this stressful yet wonderful season. In fact, the honesty you each display can be a cornerstone of rebuilding relationship trust and healing your damaged (thanks to your addiction) relationship.

Recovering sex and porn addicts (and people in general) typically find it helpful to also practice gratitude during the holidays (and the rest of the year, too). In fact, writing down 10 things you are grateful for is an incredibly effective way to combat the holiday blues. Moreover, research tells us that grateful people tend to focus more on their strengths than their weaknesses, which makes them more hopeful, less stressed out, and more likely to overcome problems (such as sex, porn and love addiction), even during trying times like the holiday season.

Another way for recovering sex addicts to stay sober during the holidays is to engage in seasonal activities with other people. Sure, it might be faster and easier to do the grocery shopping and buy a dozen gifts without the kids helping, but most of us (even when we resist the idea) find that we have a lot more fun (and a reduced chance of relapse) when we include our friends and loved ones.

Make Your Recovery a Priority

At the end of the day, staying sexually sober during the stressful holiday season is the same as staying sober throughout the year, only more so. During the holidays, recovering sex addicts need to recognize that the emotional triggers we struggle with all the time are still here, except they’re more frequent and more intense, with spiked eggnog and over-the-top office parties and badly behaved fellow shoppers and all of the other holiday not-so-niceties exacerbating our usual daily challenges. As such, we need to stand up for our recovery, stepping up our therapy and 12-step meetings and increasing our other sobriety-driven behaviors. If we do, we can easily have a healthy, sober, and maybe even joyful holiday season.

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Tired of addiction calling the shots?

Addiction treatment changes lives. Call for a free benefits check.

  • 877-671-1785

Brought to you by Elements Behavioral Health

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

  • 877-825-8131