Common Triggers Of A Sex Addiction Relapse: Things To Avoid

People going through recovery often have to deal with numerous challenges and obstacles along the way. The road to recovery can be long and arduous, and it can be difficult to stay the course. People dealing with sex addiction often come across triggers that threaten to undermine their progress and cause a relapse into old behaviors. 

But recovering sex addicts aren’t powerless against these triggers. As difficult as it may seem, these challenges can be overcome by persistence, commitment, and a few proven effective strategies. Read on to find out more about some of the most common triggers that sex addicts encounter and how to deal with them to prevent a relapse.

What are Sex Addiction Relapse Triggers?

Triggers are usually described as thoughts and feelings that compel a person to engage in addictive behavior. The actual trigger may vary from person to person, but it is always something that induces a powerful and irresistible desire to engage in destructive or harmful action. 

Many sex addicts describe a feeling of helplessness or inability to resist triggers. Although this could be seen as a refusal to accept responsibility for harmful actions, many addicts are unable to resist giving in to these triggers.

Internal and External Triggers 

Triggers may either be internal or external. Internal triggers are often associated with emotional turmoil, trauma, or discomfort. External triggers, on the other hand, are usually related to people, objects, places, or events.

For some people, external and internal triggers may be combined in intertwined triggers. For example, an argument with a spouse or a coworker could cause emotional discomfort, which could trigger an unwanted action. This initial impulse could further be encouraged by visual triggers.

Common Types of Triggers 

Triggers come in many forms, and they can be considerably different for different people. Furthermore, factors that may serve as triggers for some may not affect others at all. In any case, here are some of the most common internal triggers for sex addicts: 

  • Lack of affection 
  • Feelings of invalidation 
  • Unresolved resentment 
  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety 
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Stress

Some common external triggers for sex addicts are:

  • An excess of free time 
  • Solitude 
  • Solo travel 
  • Relationship troubles 
  • Sudden changes in work or finances
  • Sudden loss or personal tragedy 
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Exposure to sexual imagery 
  • Relationship issues 

Interestingly enough, not all triggers are negative in themselves. For some addicts, unwanted behavior can be triggered by a stimulating positive experience. Career satisfaction and material success may bring about a desire to celebrate, which in turn could cause a person to engage in risky actions.

How to Deal with Relapse Triggers for Sex Addiction

Triggers can be difficult to deal with, and they can negate any progress that a recovering sex addict has made thus far. But there are ways by which most addicts can minimize the harmful consequences that triggers have on their lives. Here are some of the most effective ways to deal with triggers: 

Acknowledge your problem. The first step to dealing with a problem is acknowledging that it exists. Realize that you have a desire for unwanted behavior and recognize that there are factors that can trigger an episode. By acknowledging this sequence of events, you could begin working on a plan to prevent your triggers from compelling you toward unwanted action.  

Formulate a plan to deal with triggers when they occur. It would help if you were prepared for when a trigger inevitably comes your way. Some people find it helpful to remove themselves from a potentially troublesome situation and then think things through calmly and rationally. They could then think about how much better their situation would be if they don’t give in to their impulses. 

Take a breather. Don’t dwell on a trigger until you have no choice but to give in. If you encounter someone or something that has triggered you in the past, force yourself to walk away or think of something else. Frequently, the simple act of breaking away could be enough to render the trigger ineffective against your resolve. 

These are only some of the ways by which you could minimize the damaging effect that triggers have on your life. We encourage you to discuss your triggers with your therapist so that you can work on an effective action plan for dealing with them.