Don’t Go Around in Circles Preventing a Sex Addiction Relapse

Preventing a Sex Addiction

Sometimes going around in circles can have negative connotations. We turn the negative into a positive by helping you build a circle plan to prevent a sex addiction relapse. Most people go around in circles because that don’t have a strategy to battle addiction.


Don’t go around in circles preventing a sex addiction relapse


Behavior addictions, especially food or sex related, require an aggressive program to overcome. People with an addiction to alcohol can make a statement to the effect that, “My plan is that I’m not going to drink again.” A drug addiction sufferer can make a similar statement, “My plan is that I am not going to use drugs again.”


While these programs for abstinence from alcohol or drugs are doable, sex and food addiction are quite different. Everyone wants to have a fulfilling sex life. To live, we must eat. So what is true for certain habits is not true for others.


How does a three circle plan prevent a sex addiction relapse? Some questions and answers.


Question: Most people when seeking help for a sex addiction relapse do not initially know about the existence of a circle plan. Why is the program necessary?


Answer: It is important to understand fully what a circle plan is. It can be tough to recover successfully from a sex addiction relapse without one. The definition of a plan is “a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.” From this simple premise, we can begin the construction of a recovery plan for you.


We look at a circle plan like a personal map or guide. It is developed as a boundary plan, visually using three circles to help in recovery. The method is also relevant for a sex partner or spouse.


Question: What does the red inner circle represent?


Answer: The red circle denotes off limits behaviors. In the circle, you would write any behaviors you want to stop.


You can be as specific as writing “internet pornography,” and under that list write particular sites that trigger your response in that category.


It is important that we put specific trigger behavioral points in the circle and not just thoughts. Thoughts happen because we are human. This causes us in many cases to “act out” and not “act on.” A description of the behavior and not the thought is what would go in the circle.


As an example, if it’s pornography that you want to stay away from it’s “viewing pornography” that would go into the red inner circle.


Sometimes the inner circle has people listing non-sexual trigger behaviors that they think are causing them problems or leading to relapses. As an example looking at a particular non-sexual website might create a though that would result in a visit to a pornographic website. Writing that site or category of the website can be listed in the red circle.

Three circle plan prevent a sex addiction relapse


Question: What does the middle circle represent?


Answer: The central yellow circle is reserved for warning behavior. It’s your unpredictable behavior. It’s the behavior and triggers that could lead you into the previously discussed inner red circle of acting out.


Middle circle practices are yellow, much like the warning light on a traffic signal. To keep up that example, if you have an issue with strip clubs, you will put “driving by a strip club” in the middle circle.


In middle circle behavior, you have not done anything wrong, but it is a warning of a potentially negative issue happening. In a weak moment, it could be easy to turn your car into the parking lot of the strip club, something that would not be beneficial in a recovery. Awareness of the middle circle will tell you to be beware. It tells you that you might have to stay off of certain streets and avoid neighborhood or other towns when the behavior in the middle circle can be activated.


The middle circle, like all the circles, are not etched in stone. They have room on your way to recovery to add, define and make more accurate what you have written. The more defined you can be in the middle circle, the more the potential to keep you out of addictive situations.


Thinking outside the box within the central circle is helpful too. In addition to specifics like “driving by strip clubs,” you might want to list what you think may be causing that trigger. Are your defenses down putting you at greater risk because you are not getting enough sleep, worried about your marriage or working too many hours creating the trigger? When people are not feeling well or stressed negative behavior can serve as a coping mechanism.


Question: The final circle is the green outer circle. What does this circle represent?


Answer: This represent the healthy circle! It features the things that we want to do that will ultimately support a healthy lifestyle and recovery.


The writing in this circle might be words like meditation, prayer, therapy and support groups such as 12 step, LifeRing or SMART Recovery. It might also include additional positives such as connecting in your marriage with your husband or wife, having relational sex and being present. These are all positive goals to maintain and build on. That is why they are in the green circle.


With green being the ultimate goal it can, for example, help you get out of the yellow middle circle if you find yourself there. With a circle plan, you will always work to find out how you can quickly get back to the safest place to be in, the green outer circle.


Question: Now that I understand the circle plan concept how do I put it to use?


Answer: Now you are ready to get a piece of paper to start drawing your circles. You can do it right now! Begin writing. As we said, make them concrete. Take your circle plan with you when you visit your therapist, go to your support network, visit with understanding friends, sex partners or spouse, or share with a sponsor. Let the people you trust help you refine the circles.


A real and solid circle plan will help you know what your behavior is. The circles will help you understand when you are slipping and will help you refocus to do well.


What is important is that if you have a sex addiction, the circle plan will give you a powerful tool to help you behave appropriately within your boundary system.


This program makes things very concrete. Ultimately it’s hard to really fool ourselves. Is it in your plan? Or not in your plan?


And as mentioned, you can always adjust your plan. You can grow in your recovery. In changing the plan seek out the same people who helped and advised you on your original circle plan.

Duane is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist, and co-founder of NOVUS Mindful Life Institute, which helps individuals affected by sex addiction. His vision is to provide comprehensive care for individuals struggling with process addictions in the utmost confidential, comprehensive and caring environment to ensure clients feel safe and accepted with anticipation that recovery is possible.

More by Duane Osterlind

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