Interrupting Addiction

Pornography Addiction Is Like A Trance

"How did I get here?"  Have you ever said that to yourself when walking or driving somewhere?  It's an experience that many people have.  They get in the their car or start walking somewhere, look up and realized they have just arrived.

Minutes or even hours have passed.  Yet, it feels like barely a minute has gone by.  

Often you aren't aware of the state of mind you are in until the exit sign or destination jars you from your trance.  The brain has a way of creating a trance like state that makes it feel like we teleport through time and space.  

Pornography addiction (like all addictions) can also create a similar trance where the addict, after acting out, asks themselves "how did I get here?"  One minute they were working on something and the next they are acting out, not even noticing at which point they slipped into the trance. 

In the beginning of recovery from sex and pornography addiction it seems like acting out 'just happens.'  It's as if the sex addict drives past the "this is not a good idea" exit and plows into the center divider, or drives into a ditch.  Rather than at the "exit sign" the addict only breaks out of their trance once the damage has been done.  The damage in this case being STD's, divorce, financial ruin, getting fired from a job, intense shame--just to name a few.  

There is a way to slow down the process and see the events, emotions, thoughts and decisions that lead to the moment of acting out.  One way of slowing down the process is to learn about your "triggers."  Triggers are often responsible for firing the addict into a trance-like state that leads to acting out.  By learning your triggers you can interrupt addiction.    

Triggers: External and Internal

Triggers blast addicts into acting out

Triggers blast addicts into acting out

So, what is a "trigger?"  Triggers are internal or external events that can cause a craving or "urge" to act out.  An example of an external trigger could be an argument with your significant other, a bad grade on a test or a critical remark from a friend or colleague.  These external triggers could lead to a bunch of internal triggers--shame, anxiety and anger.  These emotions can be painful or uncomfortable.  This discomfort is what can create the urge to act out.   

If you can begin to be aware of your triggers you give yourself a better chance to find real solutions to the real problems in your life.  

It's like the driving trance we get in.  We are jarred from our trance by the exit sign.  Our awareness is cued and interrupts the trance to avoid the pain of missing the exit.  

By putting the label "trigger" on an experience (external or internal) you are creating a fork in the road inside your head:  "I can cover up this pain by acting out like I usually do OR I can do something that will actually help me solve this problem in my life."  

In essence, the label "trigger" becomes an exit sign that says "pull over now!" 

Create a fork in the road in your head

Create a fork in the road in your head

In the beginning you may not know the answer for how to solve the problem.  You may just start with "I don't want to go down that road again...hmmm, what else can I do instead?"  And, that's a great first step.  But, you will only start doing that if you can label your external and internal experiences as "triggers."

So, say you noticed you've been triggered.  What next?  The next thing to do is talk with someone.  Addictions are born in isolation.  They die in community.  

Some guys I know get to call 3 or 4 people a day.  Yes, I used the word "get" there intentionally. When you think about it isn't it cool to know that when you are in need someone will be there for you?  Yeah, it's uncomfortable at first but you get over that discomfort by practicing when you are not triggered.  

Calling people is also a way of telling yourself you are worth all the support and help you can get.  You are also telling yourself your life is important and has meaning.  Can you imagine the incredible impact a sober life would have on your relationships, finances and spirituality?  And, how that impact will effect generations to come?    

Therefore, when it comes to getting support and asking for help be greedy.  Interrupt your addiction.  Be relentless until you find the help that will set you free from addiction.  Your life has incredible worth and meaning.  

If you are thinking "I don't know who I would even call or where I'd start" check out your local 12 step group or find a certified sex addiction therapist here.      

Next week: In part 2 of "Interrupting Addiction" I'll give you my favorite trigger tool and breakdown the most common triggers.  

Are there people who would be helped by this article?  Feel free to share it.  If this article has helped you let me know by "liking" it.        

Alex Lerza

My goal as a therapist, speaker and writer is to help people experience the gift of sexual and relational wholeness. Currently I work at Christian Counseling Center in San Jose as a Marriage Family Therapist, Intern. Though I come from a place of faith I have treated clients from all creeds and orientations. I completed my Master's degree from Santa Clara University in 2012. Because I felt called to the area of sexual wholeness I became an Associate Sex Addiction Therapist in 2013. However, I quickly learned that trauma is the cause for a significant amount of sexual and relational brokenness so I also became certified in two trauma-reduction therapies--Affect Management Skills Training and Affect Centered Therapy (similar to EMDR). PSYCHOTHERAPIST. Trauma and Sexual Addiction. One of my passions is to help people break free from sexual addiction and heal from trauma. With hundreds of hours of training in trauma and sexual addiction, I provide clients a clear path out of addiction so that they may enjoy healthier relationships and lead more focused lives. Couples. I love helping couples discover the gift of a healthy marriage. I excel at teaching couples how to communicate, how to heal from betrayal and how to deepen their level of passion and intimacy. Teens. Being a teen is tough. I enjoy helping teens who struggle to connect with peers, have questions about identity or want to kick a pornography addiction. I also run a 10 week program for teen guys looking for a band of brothers and accountability with sexual compulsivity. Individuals. I believe that everyone has something to offer the world that no one else can. I hate to see depression or anxiety limit a person's ability to make their special offering come alive. I offer clients the compassion, tools and strategies they need to make their mark and fulfill their personal vision.