Detoxing from Sexual Addiction

The term 'detox' is something that we generally relate to withdrawal from alcohol or illicit drug use.  However, detoxing can also occur when we stop acting out in sexual addiction. 

How is this similar to alcohol and illicit drug detox?  You can read more about how sexual addiction is similar to substance addiction and withdrawal here.  In a nutshell - both behaviors release a pleasure drug called dopamine into the brain.  Our brain's dopamine threshold increases with each hit or use.  When we discontinue use/acting out our brain goes into dopamine starvation mode and it literally thinks it's going to die without it.  This process is called 'craving' and can be a very trying time for an addict as they strive to maintain abstinence and sanity at the same time.

The good news is - all symptoms of detox are normal and temporary.  Usually symptoms only last 4-6 weeks as long as abstinence is maintained.  It's a period of time in which your brain is essentially throwing a temper tantrum because it is not getting the hits of dopamine provided to it for so long.

I have asked other women who have experienced detox what some of their symptoms were.  The following are their (includes my own) responses:
  • Headaches (frontal lobe headaches specifically)/migraines
  • Erratic emotions
  • User dreams (I will be blogging about user dreams soon)
  • Muscle pain
  • Anxiety
  • Anger/rage
  • Feeling stupid (saying stupid things, acting stupid)
  • Magnified feelings of shame and dirtiness
  • Lack of energy
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Intense food cravings (carbs, fat, soda, salt, sugar)
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritability/Snappiness
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Insomnia
  • Sadness
  • Vivid dreams
  • Nightmares
  • Intense urges
  • Shakes/tremors
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of losing grip on reality and that you're going crazy
Seems overwhelmingly impossible doesn't it?  Remember this list was compiled from the experiences of multiple women and is not representative of just one person.  It is not likely you'll experience all of these symptoms and one woman even reported that she doesn't remember experiencing any.  I believe my own detox process was one of the harder ones I've heard about and even I didn't experience all on the above list.

During the detox process it is a battle between your Spirit (whose desire it is to please our Father in Heaven) and our brains (whose desire it is to access more dopamine).  Our brain, mixed with the whisperings of the adversary, will come up with a plethora of justifications and rationalizations to use again:
  • Just one more time won't hurt
  • I can repent right after
  • I'm not going to make it anyway
  • I'm not like others that have achieved recovery - they are special
  • I'm not strong enough (this is actually true - just not in the way we think)
  • If this is what sobriety looks like - I won't survive
The list is endless...

As hopeless as all this seems it is absolutely possible to get through this phase.  It takes trust, hard work and determination but it can be done.  Remember, the Savior felt and experienced every single symptom on this list.  When I say He has experienced each symptom I don't mean He has experienced general depression or general sadness but rather the Savior has experienced our depression and our sadness, each individually.  He has seen our user dreams and experienced the pull of temptation which follows.  He has felt our desire to act out, to quit and even to end it all.  He willingly took on all of our pain and anguish; personally experienced it, endured it and carried it for each of us, because He loves us. 

He is right next to us every step of the way, willing us to succeed.  He offers His own personal comfort as well as the soothing comfort of the Holy Ghost and watchful Angels to watch over and protect us. 

With all this protection it is also important to utilize support systems and recovery tools of our own to help aid the fight through the detox process.  Some things that helped me get through it are:
  • I sank myself into the steps
  • I got myself a sponsor - and leaned on her
  • I went to group... every.... single....week
  • I met with my Bishop weekly
  • I journaled everything - thoughts, feelings, emotions, fears, hopes and dreams.
  • I prayed - a lot.  They were whiney prayers but my Heavenly Father listened to them; treasured them; and loved me for them.
  • I began the process of giving up my Skittles.
  • I put pictures of the Savior up all over my house; I just tacked them up everywhere.  They are still there.
  • I asked for and received many many Priesthood blessings.
  • I acquired as much literature on addiction and recovery as I could and sunk myself into learning about brain addiction and overcoming.
  • I held on.  As hard as the winds blew I held on for dear life.  I held on and I trusted that it would end.  Sometimes I didn't believe it - but I trusted anyway.  And eventually, it did.
In the end I gained a sweet testimony of the blessings that come after enduring a trial.  I'm not going to lie - it was hard; really hard.  But it was completely worth it.  With my Savior's help I mastered my body and I was no longer a puppet to my brain or to Satan.  Satan no longer owned me.  Being released from his grasp proved and continues to prove a powerful principle as I continue to face new challenges.  My body does not own me.  Satan does not own me.  My Heavenly Father owns me - and I willingly submit to Him.


  1. Thank you! I know this will be helpful to my husband. He is going through some these symptoms now, but maintaining sobriety...victory:)

    I think even this list applies to all addictions and sins even. I am finding this very helpful for me.

  2. "They were whiney prayers, but my Heavenly Father listened to them; treasured them; and loved me for them." THANK YOU.

  3. I love how open and honest you are! You WILL win this Sidreis! I feel like openness and honesty with yourself are such powerful tools! I just wish my husband could be open like this! It's always, "It's been no big deal, no struggles, nothing!" But when I read about this and user dreams, it just seems so hard to believe that it has been such a piece of cake and I really, really doubt him. I hope one day he comes to be honest/transparent with himself and me. But until then, I will try to work on my own healing, but still learn about addiction so that I can support him!

    1. Hey MM,

      Thanks so much for the comment and the words of encouragement. They mean a lot to me!

      I just wanted to mention that every individual is different so even though I struggle with items on this list it doesn't necessarily mean that your husband does.

      I spoke to one man once who struggled with major food cravings through his detox period but other than that not much else.

      I know that one thing that has greatly helped my husband and I's communication is talking about what we learned at group. I'm not sure if you are in an area where you are able to attend group but if you are, maybe that's something you can start with.

      I just want to make sure that you don't judge him simply based on my experience with detox and user dreams. We are all made differently so our experiences manifest differently.

      You are awesome though and I LOVE love your perspective and drive to just work the program yourself. That is the right way to do it and will bear more fruit than any other way!

      Love it! Love YOU!


    2. Thanks for your words Sidreis! I just have so much distrust that sometimes I get myself into super duper crazy mode!!! Mostly I just need to not worry about it - it's HIS thing, but it is easier said than done :)

  4. This has been one of the best articles I have read yet. Thank you for some spiritual motivation.

  5. I have been struggling with sex addiction for years now. It has brought an onslaught of bad relationships and even the demise of my marriage. I recently met a girl who I fell deeply in love with but due to my own ability to control my body it again resulted in God calling me away from the relationship in order to work on myself one on one with god. I have been abstinence for 26 days now and the depression is KILLING ME. The hope I have is that, as I die, the Holy Spirit lives and I am renewed every day in his immage. I am tired.... this blog here has given me strength and courage to get up and fight another day with the hope that jesus christ is who he says he is and I will emerge victorious

    1. Colin- I'm so sorry you are struggling so much right now. I'm so glad that my blog has brought you some hope, though. The detox period is so hard!!! I totally get it. I hope that you are working some sort of recovery program. If you need additional help with that, my husband has some resources that he can give you. Feel free to contact me using the contact form above if you are interested. Chin up. Warrior on!

  6. Bone crushing headaches 90 days in.

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