Change is one of the biggest guarantees in life so, at some point in your addiction recovery journey, you will likely have to experience it. I personally despise big life changes, not just because of my addiction, but because of the enormous impact change can have on my mental health.
In my addiction recovery, I have learned a lot about the impacts of self-talk, specifically how minimization and rationalization can sometimes cause harm. Personally, I believe that minimizing and rationalizing unhealthy behaviors can be present in many different types of people, not just recovering addicts. However, in my experience, these two forms of self-talk have undoubtedly impacted my addiction recovery experience.
If you're anything like me, family might be a touchy subject for you or possibly even an addiction trigger depending on your family's level of dysfunction. Childhood trauma, emotional gaslighting, and psychological abuse are all possible factors when determining a family's dysfunctional nature. For some individuals who endure these experiences as an adolescent, it can possibly lead to a life of addiction, mental health concerns, or for some a life of crime and incarceration. In my experience, the difficulties I have faced with my dysfunctional family certainly impacted the probability of my addiction and mental health diagnosis; and even many years later, I've learned that my family can be a huge trigger for me.
To my knowledge, generational addiction has impacted both sides of my family for at least four generations. Specifically, alcoholism and its devastating effects have weighed heavily on three of my four grandparents.
Pursuing and surviving sobriety is no easy feat, and for women in addiction recovery, the challenge can feel even more strenuous. Addiction of any kind can touch the lives of just about everyone no matter our racial, ethnic, or religious background; however, the fight to stay sober might look different for different individuals pursuing recovery.
Recovering addicts are participating in social distancing, like everyone else, as a result of the widespread pandemic, coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19. Social distancing has proven to be a necessary measure taken by cities, states, and nations worldwide in order to "flatten the curve" or slow the spread of this highly infectious disease. Effectively slowing down the spread of this pandemic is going to take the willpower and intentionality of every single one of us, but what does social distancing mean for those of us in recovery who greatly depend on addiction-related support groups to maintain our sobriety?
I want to talk about porn addiction vs. porn consumption. In my experience, porn addiction is a highly complex and massively misunderstood behavioral addiction that can affect even the most unsuspecting individuals. Some might say that looking at pornography even one time will make you an addict, while others insinuate that watching porn is perfectly normal and socially acceptable. So which one is it? If you ask me, both of these answers contain some aspect of truth. Porn addiction can easily start after just one encounter, however, for a lot of people, porn consumption (maybe even porn addiction) is completely normal depending on your gender, social circle, religion, and more.
For me, choosing to take antidepressants in addiction recovery has been a great choice. After fighting through years of active addiction and a few years of addiction recovery, I have finally decided to work on my mental health struggles with a psychiatrist. My addiction to sex and pornography started roughly ten years ago in high school, but I didn't actually pursue recovery until years later in my early twenties. Amidst the fight against this devastating addiction, I was also consumed with a number of mental health disorders ranging from generalized anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and most recently, depression.
As this decade is reaching its end, I am reminded of how long behavioral addictions have haunted me and exactly how far I've come. Around 2010, I first began exploring my sexuality as a teenager and I quickly learned how helpful sex could be as a coping skill for a struggling and defiant teenager like myself. Over time though, I wasn't just relying on sex to cope, my tendency to rely on certain behaviors or activities to survive slowly spread to nearly every area of my life including things like food, social media, shopping, and probably even others that I'm not fully aware of. Behavioral addictions are especially tricky to conquer because they commonly involve the most regular and routine aspects of our lives and they often go completely unnoticed.
We all cope with life differently, so how does one know when their beloved coping skill has manifested into a full-blown, unhealthy addiction? I believe most of us have our own unofficial list of coping skills that we turn to after (or during) a particularly unpleasant day. For some of us, a staple coping mechanism might be a hot bubble bath and for others, their nightly routine could include a chilled glass of wine while binge-watching their favorite sitcom. So how far is too far, and what transforms a harmless coping skill into an unhealthy life choice, or worse, an addiction?