Crisis to Growth: The Stages of Sex Addiction Recovery


Sex addiction is a true behavioral addiction, and it is one that people battle every day. If you are struggling to control your impulses when it comes to sexual behaviors, you may need to get professional help. The good news about sex addiction treatment is that many experts believe that you can recover from it. The bad news is that the process that leads to true recovery can take several years of dedicated work. If you’re ready to get started, caring professionals are prepared to help you.

Treatment Stages

One expert in treating patients with compulsive sexual behaviors conducted a study that included nearly 1,000 people. He examined the steps these patients took in recovery and treatment and was able to outline the general stages and how long they lasted. Each person is unique, but he found that, in general, patients moved through these stages before being in recovery.

  1. The developing stage. This first stage can take up to two years. During this time, problems caused by the sex addiction grow. The patient begins to realize that she has a problem and may even reach out for help, but can’t commit. She might start therapy or go to group sessions, but drop out.
  1. The crisis stage. During this brief stage, one to three months long, the addict’s problems reach a crisis level. She makes a firm commitment to change after experiencing a crisis moment. This could be the diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease, an arrest, attempting suicide or anything else that causes the addict to commit to change.
  1. The shock stage. For the next six to eight months, the addict has admitted to the problem but is in shock and disbelief. She feels angry and hopeless but ultimately relieved that she has finally admitted to having an addiction to sexual behaviors.
  1. The grief stage. In another six-month period, the sex addict goes through a type of grief. She feels terrible about the damage she has caused to herself and to others. She also grieves the loss of her addiction because she used it like a crutch for a long period of time. Finally, whatever she used her addiction to cover up begins to emerge. This is often some kind of early trauma.
  1. The repair stage. This serious period of healing from sex addiction and its underlying causes can last from one to three years. During this period, the addict gets intensive therapy, learns to take responsibility for her actions, deepens her relationships with her loved ones and learns to have a healthy relationship with sex.
  1. The growth stage. This final stage can last two years or more and is the final step in becoming completely healed from sex addiction. It is during this stage that the study found sex addicts truly began to enjoy life again and felt confident in having strong, healthy sexual relationships.

The Need for Lasting Change

It’s only natural to feel a sense of despair when you see how long it can take to heal from sex addiction. You should also feel hope, though. The study found that patients really did recover after this long period of time. It takes so long because sex addiction is complicated and there are underlying reasons why you develop these compulsions. In order to really be free of the addiction, you need to do the work over a long period of time. With patience and caring professionals to guide you, you can get better.

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