Sexual Addiction Recovery

Recovering from sexual addiction takes work and a determination to lean into the pain rather than returning to the addiction. Addiction is about numbing, medicating, avoiding, escaping, and denying reality at all cost. Therefore, recovery is about facing and experiencing reality at all cost. No matter the pain involved!  You must work a Sexual Addiction Recovery Plan.

Go To Any Length

To be successful in working sexual addiction recovery, you must establish a long term sexual addiction recovery plan.  I also add that you must be in a place of being “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  If you are, you will do whatever it takes to recover.

I can guarantee that recovery will lead to a higher quality of life (not necessarily without pain….since reality involves pain).  Sobriety is but one part of a long term recovery plan.  It is important but it is not the main goal of recovery.  Alcoholics Anonymous states that the goal of recovery is to be happy, joyous, and free.


Obtain a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) with specific training for sexual addiction recovery.  Dr. Patrick Carnes’ organization (IITAP) has establish a certification program that provides 30 tasks of recovery from sexual addiction.

The certified sexual addiction therapists can be found at the Sex Help website (just click on the link to review).  I recommend that the individual counseling take 2-4 years so that the deeper issues underneath the sex addiction be brought to the surface.  Working through a relationship with a therapist is essential to recovery.  The real issue with sexual addiction is a wounding in past attachment or bounding (parents, siblings, friends, etc.) and the therapeutic relationship provides a safe place to restore and heal that wound.


I recommend all my clients that struggle with sexual addiction to join a counseling group that focuses on sexual addiction recovery. In the counseling groups that I facilitate, we use the Dr. Patrick Carnes’ workbook “Facing the Shadow” but we also allow group members to present information from their 12-step group, books they are reading, or specific struggles or issues they are currently facing.

After the presentation to the group, group members have an opportunity to provide feedback.  The goal is to have a safe place to honestly present deeper stuff and bond with other men that fully understand the struggle from their own experience.  Most group members attend group from 2 years to 4 years (or longer).


Attend a 12-step “S” group (Sexaholics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, or Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous).  I instruct clients to find a group that fits his schedule, get comfortable with the meetings (4-6 meetings), ask another member to be your sponsor (a man that you admire his recovery program and would like to have as your own program), work the 12-steps with the sponsor, and eventually sponsor other men in the program.

The more you get involved in the program (leading meetings, service, sponsorship, working the steps), the better your recovery will become.  Working through the steps makes a critical difference.  Those that don’t finish the steps either struggle in their sobriety or eventually quit the program of recovery all together.


Facing the wounds and finding healing in their family-of-origin and childhood issues.  This can be accomplished through the work in their individual therapy, group counseling, and step work with their sponsor.  Healing can come through allowing the hurt to surface, working through it, and eventually choosing to forgive.


If in a relationship, working to repair and restore the trauma and damage that may have been caused. Having a partner in recovery for their own work is awesome!  I also recommend that the addict and his partner get into couples therapy immediately and finding a relationship therapist that is trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy is the best choice.  Relationship therapy will allow for forgiveness, facing the relationship injury, establishing healthy attachment and boundaries, rebuilding trust, and providing hope for a future.


For some couples, setting a date for Full Disclosure gives the partner the opportunity to hear the truth. Honesty and fidelity are implied or clearly stated in most marital contracts or agreements.  Many betrayed partners maintain that the dishonesty and keeping of secrets is a greater violation than the infidelity.  Research shows that more marriages end as a result of maintaining the secret than do in the wake of telling the truth.

Even though the partner will be angry, she will be angrier if the behaviors continue and she finds out later that the addict was lying.  We advise that in most circumstances, the addict must tell the partner if healing is to occur.  When unfaithful behaviors remain secret, communication about other matters are gradually impaired. Partners often initially ask for full disclosure because this is a way for them to: a) Make sense of the past, b) Validate their suspicions about what was happening in the relationship – suspicions the addict often denied. c) Assess their risk of having been exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, to financial disaster and to shame, d) Evaluate their partner’s commitment to the future of the relationship, and e) Have some sense of control.


Develop a consistent spiritual life.  This doesn’t mean a religious life but rather a daily commitment to something much deeper than themselves. Sex Addicts are often narcissistic and self-centered.  Focusing on a spiritual life gets the addict’s focus off of oneself and onto something much more powerful. This may also mean getting involved in a spiritual community or church.


Actively work a regular exercise program with healthy nutrition. I have seen many clients that replace the time they spent in the addiction with time spent in getting physically healthy. Some will establish weight losing goals while other will begin signing up for marathon or half marathon events. Making healthy choices for your body aligns well with your emotional and spiritual recovery work.


If you are reading this article and desire to begin a sexual addiction recovery program that is similar to the above but recognize you need professional help, please call our center at 512-856-6360 or fill out the contact form by click on this link: Get More Information.  We are here to help!