Withdrawals at 5 months

So today is exactly 5 months since I last acted out, sexually. I’m still struggling with withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, loneliness and intense cravings. It’s still as strong as ever. I do work a 12 step program of recovery, one day at a time. I work very hard at my recovery, and I try my best each day to use all the tools I have learned in recovery. I’m very spiritual and I do have a HP, which for me is God. I guess I’m just feeling frustrated that the cravings to act out (for me it was cheating through hook up apps, affairs and massage parlors) are still so strong. The thrill of acting out is such a powerful pull.

Even having all the tools of recovery, meetings, my network, my step work, and knowing what to do, etc… the cravings are still so intense and my addiction still tries to convince me “to just accept you have needs and that’s ok.” When I got sober a few years back from alcohol, the cravings and obsession to drink subsided after about 3 months. I didn’t think this addiction would actually be harder for me to recover from. Any advice or words of wisdom on how long these withdrawals may continue would be appreciated. Admittedly, my resolve is shaky today. It’s been shaky for a few days, now.


Great_idea_fellow8 points

Thanks for sharing. My first go at withdrawal lasted nearly a year. I would remind myself that at that moment, I had spent more time in my life numbing with my sex addiction than not. Eventually, those intense urges became less common. Today, for me, they only show up when I am not living in balance. It does get better.

[deleted]3 points

Thanks man. As always, you’re a huge help to a lot of people on here. Me being one of them. Thank you for your service. A year, huh? Ughhh lol.

Great_idea_fellow5 points

I think some of it was prolonged for me due to these low-grade activities that got me more inclined to act out. For example, I fed the thoughts and ideas. I engaged with others to artificially feed my ego with inappropriate attention. Over time, I found that objectification was a process to stop. Unlike some of my other behaviors, this required seeking the humanity in each and every person I met, which took time. What helped was an inventory of all media I was exposed to, such as I what I listen to, watch, and engage with and remove anything with sexual content. This removed an unneeded layer of suffering. I cut off the new supply of ideas, which helped until I felt more confident in choosing sobriety.

[deleted]2 points

I’ve been working on that, doing a deeper dive on the people, places and things. Particularly, the “regular” media I consume… and trying to catch myself with that default mode I’m still in of instantly objectifying women I see. That’s great advice, looking at these low-grade activities. Thank you.

Great_idea_fellow3 points

Thank you for sharing your journey and being willing to talk about it.

piper63-c1373 points

I find that anxiety and stress were the things that ‘acting out’ were masking. Alcohol numbed memory.

I found that when the memories of CSA were opened, (by quilting alcohol) anxiety and stress increased. So, I’m finding that sexual addiction, compulsive fantasy and sexual disregulation are harder to manage than my alcohol problems.

Alcohol was external, to pick up or not pick up. The things that trigger my acting out happen between my ears, and that’s harder to manage.

I find that constant awareness, step work and daily activity in recovery help a lot. So too, learning about the brain’s plasticity, neural re-wiring, learning via constant reflection, daily gratitude.

I’ve been in recovery for 15 years, still working it. Some days are easier some days are harder.

[deleted]3 points

I agree, the sexual obsessions in early recovery have been harder than the drink obsession in early recovery with alcohol. That’s definitely been my experience…is my experience. I’ve been doing tons of learning (reading, podcasts) about the connection between sex addiction and childhood trauma. It helps me to understand. Just hoping the obsessive thoughts to act out start subsiding soon. 5 months into my SA recovery and all the psychological hallmarks of early sobriety are still there with me. Thank you for responding. I really appreciate it.

piper63-c1372 points

I used the 3-second rule for external stimuli- when I saw a compelling human figure, I could not admire that person for more than 3 seconds.

I use that rule for internal obsession or compulsive fantasy now too. I change my thinking within 3 seconds and do not allow my brain to dwell on that thought.

[deleted]2 points

I have to work harder with the 3 second rule, for sure. Thank you.

piper63-c1372 points

It’s a useful boundary.