Relapse Prevention
10/4/2011 8:15:23 PM
I lost two months of quality sobriety last Thursday. I had recently changed sponsors when the relapse happened. My new sponsor is very step-driven and action-driven. When I told him about the relapse he said "There needs to be consequences. You should donate fifty dollars to an organization that fights pornography. The next time you relapse you should donate 100 dollars, and the time after that 200, and so forth."`

My gut reaction to his suggestion was that it was a bad idea. I figured that I was bad enough off, and I was already doing a good job of punishing myself by beating myself up. I thought about the fact that whatever I'm doing wasn't working since I cannot stay sober, so I had a little faith in my sponsor and made the donation.

The most bizarre thing happened after I made the donation - I immediately felt better. I knew I had done something wrong, and it felt like I had taken a step towards making restitution. I donated to an organization that educates schools about pornography and sex addiction. It was a small step to make things right, but it made a huge impact on my attitude.

Here I am five days later, and I have not slipped again. I typically relapse, feel bad about myself, get depressed, relapse again within two days, then relapse over and over several times a day for a couple weeks. This time everything felt different, and I think it's because I stopped feeling sorry for myself and actually took a positive action.

I am working hard on the steps each day, reading and praying daily, reading from the white and blue books daily, and I feel pretty good. I'm about to go talk with my bishop in an hour, and I feel like I'm ready to listen to anything he tells me to do. I'm usually pretty scared about confessing to a new bishop, but I realize he's here to help, and I'm ready to accept his help.

I don't know if making the donation is the reason I'm doing so well after this relapse, but I do know it's the only thing I've done differently this time. This might be a good idea for other people who want to prevent relapses.


Similar Tactic    
"I read about a similar approach online about a year ago although I can't remember exactly where it was:

Everyday you don't MB or P you put a dollar in a box in your nightstand. After a year you have $365 saved up and you spend the money on something for you, or your family, or anything you want.

If you don't make it a year, you donate however much money you saved up to a charity of your choice. If 365 days seems unattainable at first, maybe start with 100, or whatever you want.

I like this approach because instead of just punishing yourself for being bad, you can reward yourself for being good. (Not that donating to an anti-porn foundation is a punishment)"
posted at 20:59:55 on October 4, 2011 by PaulThomas
"ETTE, you have posted good things so I want to comment. I totally crashed this weekend. Dumping a girl I had only been dating 4 weeks and conference pushed me over my limits. Then monday I was super diligent. Monday night i was attacked by a million demons, i felt like mosquitos. I texted a support group member and then laid on my back singing hymns. It took my entire will to not roll over. ridiculous but these are the battles. Tuesday morning, more attacks. this time at work, I gave in. I made it quick. Tuesday night I spent the evening helping a friend move and even bought her dinner. But when I got home, all i wanted was to act out. It doesn't make much sense does it? I have so many internal fears/frustrations I guess. In the moment it feels pretty dang good to act out (let's be honest). So i feel a bit down. I guess even the veterans like you lose.

I like the honesty and accountability. I need more people to text or call in the moment. Sometimes I really feel absolutely powerless when I am alone. I like the 12-step but there is no interaction sometimes. I used to go a SA and they were way involved. We even hugged each other. Where do you suggest I go to get a sponsor?? I have always wanted that. Someone who is even remotely strong in recovery. My support group friend is still very much an addict and sometimes doesn't know what to tell me."
posted at 10:42:55 on October 5, 2011 by warrior
Money Box and Getting A Sponsor    
"That money box idea is great! I think I'll set it up for 180 days and see how that goes. I've never been sober that long before, but I imagine having the money right in front of me would be a good positive reinforcement.

I like Sexaholics Anonymous because they really focus on the practical things we need to do to make headway against the addiction. I also attend LDS PASG meetings on a weekly basis.

I don't think there's a right or wrong answer on where to go to group or get a sponsor. I choose to focus on SA's program because that's what has worked for me in the past. My SA group has a lot of active members who have more than three years of sobriety. These members are an enormous resource because they actually know what it takes to beat the addiction. My first sponsor has been sober for 9 years, and my current sponsor has been sober for 4 years.

SA's white book says that there are few absolute qualities needed in a sponsor, but lengthy sobriety is a must. It is also necessary that your sponsor is ahead of you with the steps. This could be why your friend in recovery couldn't step into a sponsor role for you.

I wish you the best of luck, WARRIOR. We're both in similar situations, so let's encourage each other to conquer this addiction and move on with life."
posted at 16:38:54 on October 5, 2011 by ETTE
"I'm not sure what I think about donating money. I also think that acting out has enough consequences already. It seems like I've heard something somewhere about why donating doesn't work, but I can't remember where. If it works for you, go for it.

As far as getting a sponsor I think you should go to meetings (SA, ARP, or others) and look for someone you respect and can relate to that has some sobriety and ask them if they would consider sponsoring you.

posted at 21:28:05 on October 11, 2011 by dstanley
Awesome SA Group    
"Ette, thank you for sharing the information about your SA group. It is so helpful for me to hear about men who have been in this program for years and are finding success. The groups I attend have one fellow with 6 years, and lots with 1.5 - 2 years. It is a great group. I love SA, it is such a huge strength to me."
posted at 11:37:21 on October 14, 2011 by jblackb
Good stuff you guys.    
"I am not a clock or calendar watcher so I don't count my days of sobriety. I do like the idea of Sobriety Bank. Kind of like a checking account. One slip and your account balance goes to zero and then if you fall again you are writing a rubber check. Rubber checks are written intentional just like a well thought out or even a spontaneous relapse of acting out. It all involves a conscious decision. Donating to an anti pornography or battered women' s shelter is all 12 step work.

Speaking of battered women's shelters, the girls and boys, the men and women that we view engaged in lascivious and lewd acts are destined for the trash heap. They live broken and shattered lives. Many of them have lived a life of abuse and neglect. Boys and girls of Malasia and Brazil are out on the streets working for a pimp at age ten. Many of the young men and women who star in these porn films and pose for $$ are addicted and worn out and disease ridden. These are the people that we patronize. Looking at it this way becomes sickening and disgusting. Something that I no longer want to promote or participate in."
posted at 22:50:49 on October 24, 2011 by 3R's
Be careful putting little bandaids on gaping, gushing wounds    
"I appreciated all the positive statements here about Sexaholics Anonymous. I've been attending three SA meetings a week for the past year and a half. I have phone lists from each meeting and stay in daily contact with guys from the program. This past weekend, one of the men in our group celebrated 12 years of continuous sobriety. It was a great reminder that recovery is possible.

I'm a little concerned, however, about this donate-if-I-slip idea. Our problem with addiction is not that we lack incentive. Quite the opposite. As Mormons we have huge incentives to stay sober: taking the sacrament, getting a temple recommend, being worthy to perform priesthood ordinances, and more. Still, as we've all seen, incentives don't seem to be enough to entice us to keep sober in the long run. When it comes to addiction, incentives and enticements are just little bandaids. They don't do much to cover the gaping, gushing wounds that cause us spiritual, mental and emotional pain and make us want to numb it all out.

You need to remember that when you act out, you are self-medicating to cover up pain that you're feeling on some level. The pain is the result of character defects. Donating money won't address the character defects; working the steps with an experienced sponsor definitely will.

The White Book talks about finding the "cures." There's the "marriage cure" and the "change jobs cure" and the "move to a new location and start all over cure." I've tried the "new years resolution cure" and the "new laptop with no porn on it cure" as well as the "new phone with no porn on it cure." You're talking about the "donate money to a worthy cause cure." In looking for a "cure," I was always trying to find that carrot that would give me the incentive to stay sober. I now understand that incentives won't keep me sober; only working the steps will because that's how I get my defects out in the open so I can, with Heavenly Father's help, fix them. As I work on those defects and stay in contact with other recovering addicts through meetings and phone calls, the compulsions to act out go away and stay away. I stay sober.

I think you should be careful with reward/punishment systems. You have an addiction so you're already hurting enough. You don't need to add to the shame you feel when you act out. Instead, you need to recognize that you have a disease, that it's a treatable disease, and that you treat it by working the steps in SA--not by incentives.

I've done a lot of writing about overcoming pornography addiction and compulsive sexual behavior on my website at I encourage you to take a look.

posted at 11:05:30 on October 26, 2011 by rowboat
Great Comment Rowboat!    
"I appreciate your experience and writing. The SA meeting program is saving my life, marriage and soul one day at time. The information contained in that White book is as much revealed truth to me as anything else I have read. I have found nothing within its pages to be contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ I as understand it."
posted at 13:43:14 on October 26, 2011 by jblackb
Like - Thumbs Up - Amen    
posted at 18:44:36 on October 26, 2011 by 3R's
good comments!!!    
"I agree with those "cures". I am a pro at concocting the next plan, the next cure. but sadly....never worked all the steps. Why?? I am a lazy addict at times. I say that jokingly.

Rowboat, I check out your site. This looks really good! I am at work so i probably shouldn't be reading that. or writing this. I check this blog in the mornings at times before things get busy.

I am preparing a detailed plan on how to survive the next 12 days. I would like to post it somewhere where I could get some feeback on it.

I created a blog from my addiction awhile back but haven't used it since.

Again, thanks for all you guys do. I was seriously depressed 2 days ago. I rebound pretty quick now."
posted at 10:36:22 on October 27, 2011 by warrior
Copy of the White Book    
"ette: do you have a copy of the White Book from Sexaholics Anonymous? Rowboat"
posted at 02:18:32 on October 29, 2011 by rowboat
Good Comments, Rowboat    
"To answer your question - since I mentioned reading from the white book each day, I literally meant that I have a copy of the white book. I also find it online quite often, but I like reading the hard copy more than the electric version because my eyes don't do well with looking at computer screens for extended periods of time.

I actually have two copies of the white book. One is at home, and the other is out here at college with me. I like the white book a lot because it hones in on exactly what sex addicts need to do to recover. Other recovery material is good too, but I seem to like the white book best.

I couldn't agree more that donating to a charity after a relapse is not a cure, but I also mentioned working my steps each day and reading from the white and blue books daily.

I can see how you might have misunderstood what I meant though. I did not mean to suggest that donating money is the only action necessary to stop this addiction. I just shared this one particular part of my program because it helped me escape the inevitable relapse depression I usually experience.

A good recovery program should cover the principles you alluded to:

1. Work the steps - focus especially on recovering from character defects.

2. Participate in recovery meetings and make lots of phone calls.

3. Work with an experienced sponsor.

I have personally followed these three steps pretty religiously since my last relapse, and I now have about forty days of sobriety. As they say, "it works if you work it.""
posted at 12:37:59 on November 8, 2011 by ETTE
By The Way,    
"I really like it that so many people on here like SA as much as I do!"
posted at 12:40:16 on November 8, 2011 by ETTE

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"You lived with your Heavenly Father in a premortal life. You were there with Him. Your spirit knows what it is like to live in celestial realms. You can never be truly happy in an uncelestial environment. You know too much. That is one of the reasons that for you, wickedness never can be happiness. What a great thing it is to decide once and for all early in life what you will do and what you will not do with regards to honesty, modesty, chastity, the Word of Wisdom, and temple marriage. "

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