Two recovery benefits down, three to go! How are you feeling? I trust hopeful and confident. So, let's keep moving forward.
The 3rd benefit of recovery that I am going to address in this post is one of my favorites. Why? Because it reminds me that recovery isn't just about me. Recovery is about getting well so that life can be fully experienced and enjoyed with others.
Recovery Benefit #3:
Recovery leads to healthy relationships.
Every addict has poor relationship skills. There can be many reasons for this, but as it pertains to addiction this is mainly due to selfishness, imbalance of brain chemistry, anger problems and a general lack of care about anything or anyone (addicts often describe themselves as "numb").
Addiction draws the individual more and more into themselves until all that is left (at least in their mind) is them; a sort of "god" unto themselves. This is why it is so frustrating to be in relationship with an addict; they are good liars who worship themselves. This doesn't make for strong relationships.
Recovery, however, is good because it helps expose the addict's selfishness and learn how to connect with others in healthy, caring ways. The addict discovers they are not the center of the universe and that being connected to others is not a distraction from their lives, but rather an enhancement. They come to embrace that relationships are necessary for health and growth.
But not all relationships are healed in recovery. Sometimes the damage is so deep and so overwhelming that family and friends might walk away. The addict can't do anything about this; there are often painful consequences to addiction. This doesn't mean, however, that the skills for healthy relationships in the future cannot be acquired. Recovery is a pathway to these skills.
In my previous post on the 5 Benefits of Recovery, we looked at the first benefit: Recovery leads you out of secrecy and deception. You can read it here if you missed it.
Let's continue on in our unpacking of the benefits of recovery.
Recovery Benefit #2:
Recovery leads you to better physical health.
Much has be learned in recent decades about the impact of addictive behavior on the brain. Roughly eighty percent of sex addicts suffer from some degree of depression, which makes sense when you discover that repeated overuse of the brain in one area causes an imbalance of underuse in another. Such imbalances can cause all sorts of symptoms, from depression to anxiety to rage, and more.
The irony is that many sex addicts by overstimulating sexually are actually decreasing their ability to experience sexual pleasure. Neurologist Serge Stoleru has found that overexposure to erotic stimuli exhausts the sexual responses of normal, healthy young men. Many sex addicts we have helped in our ministry are actually impotent as a result of heavy porn use!
Recovery helps an addict regain balance in their brain. By eliminating the practice of overstimulation, the addict's brain begins to reshape toward what a healthy brain should look like. This is called neuroplasticity; the ability of the brain to change shape based on usage. This is good news for addicts! Their brain doesn't have to stay stuck in the rut of addiction and all the garbage that comes with it. Recovery is a process of learning to live in a healthy way, which includes physical, as well as emotional, health.
I hope in hearing about just these first two benefits of recovery you are encouraged and hopeful. Real transformation is possible, and the benefits are not just freedom from the shame and guilt of addiction.
In my next post, we’ll look at the 3rd Benefit of Recovery: Recovery leads to healthy relationships.
Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain
by Dr. William Struthers
Order on Amazon.com