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ENQUIRY

ZOOM –  A CRUCIAL ADDICTION RECOVERY AID

Author : Andrew da Roza

With COVID-19 forcing many of us to practice social distancing and to work from home; isolation and the constant access to Internet devices makes staying in recovery from compulsive sexual behaviour a very tall order. 

There are many reasons why COVID-19 is interrupting recovery from sex addiction. Restless, irritability, and discontent will inevitably arise for all of us, when our routines are disrupted – but there is more to it than that for people in recovery for addictions.  

Some will experience acute urges and cravings to act out because:

    • isolating at home, away from colleagues and friends leaves a recovering person lonely, and without the support of recovering others;
    • if they are now living 24 hrs a day with traumatised partners and disrupted families, tensions may reach flashpoints;
    •  some may already be very anxious and depressed, and the additional worry about health and contracting the virus may prove too much;
    • some may have suffered financial problems from their acting out, and may be  dismayed by their financial future, given the impact of COVID-19 is having on savings, jobs and salaries; 
    • they may now repeatedly look at electronic devices for work, COVID-19 news and distraction – and those may be the very devices that caused or exacerbated the problems in the first place;
    • unstructured time will inevitably lead to both the distress of ruminating about the consequences of the present, and the triggers of fantasising about past acting out.

When people are struggling with an addiction, their mind can play tricks on them. COVID-19 can present a series of excuses to put their recovery “on hold”. 

One person in recovery said

“I started to tell my wife that I was looking out for the family when I decided not to attend recovery meetings and therapy. She then asked whether there were other things I could do, that didn’t involve meeting others. 

I told her, pretty emphatically: “no, recovery requires the support of others”. 

Then she Googled and found recovery meetings online by Zoom, Skype, and telephone conference. I was stumped.  I realised that my mind was once again leading me astray. 

I checked with my therapist and found that I could do therapy by Zoom, and he also gave me lots of online recovery videos to watch, information to read, and exercises I could do. 

My sponsor and I now do our recovery work using WhatsApp video. 

Calling my recovery friends and supporters was what I was doing before COVID-19 anyway.    

I found that some of my recovery work, like meditation, prayer and daily gratitude lists is solitary work any way, and that I now have plenty of time to do that – if I chose to.” 

Many people had to finally admit that they could either work hard on their list of excuses – or they could work hard on their recovery – but not both.

One of the greatest problems that people find preventing them from finding and staying in recovery from sex addiction is shame. Online connectivity platforms like  Zoom, WhatsApp and other online social platforms can help with that. 

People feel safer engaging online – which is one step removed from physical interactions.  They feel greater comfort being at being home, in a familiar and secure space. They can also control whether and when they are seen or heard, and they can leave a meeting at any time.  

Partners and family of those in recovery may also feel more assured. Their loved ones are not outside the home visiting triggering locations. They are also demonstrating their commitment to staying the recovery course – virus or no virus.  

Partners and the whole family may also have more opportunity to join in healthy recovery activities – daily meditation, exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep hygiene.  

Being at home gives people in recovery a unique opportunity to initiate family activities like games, puzzles, movie watching, making meals, arts and crafts, walks and swims. In recovery, this is called: “making living amends”, to the loved ones who have been hurt.     

So at this isolating and stressful time, consider individual therapy and the STAR group therapy delivered by Zoom – and remain on the recovery path.