Just Relapsed?

re-lapse
intr.v. re·lapsed, re·laps·ing, re·laps·es
  1. To fall or slide back into a former state.
  2. To regress after partial recovery from illness.
  3. To slip back into bad ways; backslide.

UsedTissuesSo you learned that you need to quit using porn for whatever problems it has caused in your life, you dedicated yourself not to use anymore, you fought hard to stay clean for a time, and then–for whatever reason–you used porn.

Well, if you just relapsed, I’m here to say that it doesn’t really have to be a relapse. What I mean that is instead of allowing your slip to send you back into your former destructive patterns, you can learn from it, use it to inspire changes in your life that will make you stronger, happier, and more resistant to truly relapsing and losing the progress you have worked to gain.

The first step in dealing with a relapse is to forgive yourself. Regret the mistake, but do not regret who you are, for it is human to make mistakes. If instead you tell yourself that you are weak and a failure, then you are much more likely to use again in order to dull the pain of self-loathing. Second, analyze critically how it happened, why it happened, and how you feel about it. Was it satisfying to you? Was it as good as you hoped it would be? Do you want to continue doing it? Then plan for the future, deciding how you will better avoid triggers and deal with urges. If you relapsed because you had been drinking, then maybe you need to stop using alcohol until you have a more established streak. If you relapsed because you were flatlining and worried that you had no libido, then read others’ stories of flatlines to reassure yourself that it’s a common and temporary part of recovery. You get the idea.

One relapse does not set you back to 0, no matter what your streak counter says. I recommend using a calendar instead of a simple counter, so that you can see your progress over time. A calendar with days xd outA five-day streak having only used twice in three months is better than a 30-day streak having used 10 times in three months. Again, do not dwell on failure; this increases the urge to make yourself feel better by giving in again (“I’ve already failed so what the hell, I may as well enjoy it”). Instead, be content with the new knowledge you have acquired and get excited about how it will help you to accomplish your goals.

See my book Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn for more advice on dealing with relapse, and read this article if you feel urges to relapse again.