Withdrawals symptoms from any addiction can be challenging, but there is evidence to indicate that letting go of a sexual addiction may be even more painful than withdrawing from heroin or going without food when hungry.
According to the website, Reuniting: Healing With Sexual Relationships, rats will undergo strong electrical shocks in order to get access to a bar that delivers electrical stimulation to the pleasure centers of their brains. Starving rats, by comparison, will not subject themselves to shock in order to get access to food.
Rats addicted to sugar are able to overcome their addictions if they receive meals that are “moderate and regularly scheduled.” This suggests that those with sexual addictions can be treated with “moderate lovemaking, regularly scheduled,” although most addiction counselors will recommend that this be preceded by a period of abstinence lasting from two weeks to several months.
Rob Weiss, founder of the Sexual Recovery Institute, believes that sex addicts are not hooked on sex. Rather, they are addicted to the release of neurochemicals in their brain’s pleasure centers that are activated by stimulating materials like pornography.
Braving The Withdrawals
The worst of the withdrawal symptoms will occur during the first two weeks of abstinence. Symptoms can be physical, emotional, mental or a combination of all three. Although highly uncomfortable, it’s important that addicts hang on and get through this period without giving in to the addiction. Regular attendance at 12-step meetings can help, as can therapy and addiction treatment programs.
The “abstinence violation effect” can result if an addict abstains for a while and then indulges in the addiction. Binging can occur, the addiction may intensify, and the addict winds up feeling worse than before.
Withdrawal symptoms can include the following:
* Loss of interest in life
* Heart palpitations
* Tremors and shaking
* Feeling raw
* Itchy skin
* Inability to think straight
* Feeling numb
* Bad dreams
* Emotional instability
* Aches and pains
* Inability to concentrate
* Loss of energy
* Physical and emotional discomfort
These symptoms can change or go from one extreme to the other. An addict might feel hyperactive one day and not be able to get out of bed the next. It’s not uncommon for those in recovery to feel like they’re going insane. There can be profound sense of loss because the addiction has been the addict’s “best friend.”
Benefits Of The Recovery Phase
The reason for these symptoms is that the body is reestablishing a metabolic balance while undergoing the process of withdrawal. During the abstinence period, a complete readjustment is taking place. The addict’s body, mind, emotions and spirit are being rebalanced while healthy coping skills are learned.
Although it doesn’t feel good, the withdrawal process is actually a very positive thing. Each day that the addict refuses to indulge in the addiction, he or she is one step closer to recovery. It may not feel like it, but these symptoms do lessen and disappear over time.
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