Headlines like “My iPhone Caused My Divorce!” and “How Sexting Ruined My Life” are the kind of tawdry statements that sell magazines and get people to click on websites. For the sexually addicted, however, smartphones are a convenient way to find hookups, look at pornography and text with sex partners. From Ashley Madison and Grindr to even non-dating or sex websites like Facebook and Craigslist, it’s never been easier to find sex from your phone. There are hundreds of easily downloaded and affordable apps designed to do precisely that. Any time of day from any location, sexual desires can be fulfilled with the help of a smartphone and for addicts this can be extremely difficult. So if you’ve decided to get sober from sex addiction, how do you stay connected while staying out of temptation?
Staying accountable is key for sobriety and doubly so when it comes to internet porn and smartphone use. We ask patients some honest questions during their intake to get to know their relationship with both pornography and technology. For addicts seeking recovery, an ongoing, open dialogue about this is essential. A therapist or group can help an addict recognize how they use their phone or the internet to look for sex and how to stop. This accountability not only helps addicts see how they used technology in pursuit of sex but also provides a safe atmosphere to talk about behavior most addicts consider embarrassing or shameful.
In the beginning, limited time online or disconnecting entirely for a few weeks might be necessary. This sounds harsh but the world won’t end if you stop texting for a couple of days. Addicts need to shed old habits if they want to be successful implementing new ones. Also, a timer is a great tool to help monitor how much time we spend online. Set it for 30 minutes and you’ll be amazed what you can get done in that short period of time while having more time for other things you enjoy.
For addicts, a good housecleaning is necessary and this is true for smartphones too. With the help of another person in recovery or a therapist, it is a great idea for addicts to delete the contact information of old one-night stands, sexually explicit personal photos and accounts to casual sex sites. When an addict takes these temptations off of their smartphone, it helps set them up for success rather than failure.
Yet we need our phones and does getting sexually sober mean we have to throw them out and only use landlines? Absolutely not. In fact, there are a great deal of positive innovations that smartphones have brought ot the world of recovery. Apps with meditations, electronic versions of recovery books and 12 step meeting group location finders are a few of the ways smartphone technology can help people in recovery.
The most powerful thing a smartphone can handle is the ability to reach out other addicts via text and instant messaging from anywhere in the world. Texts and even good, old-fashioned phone calls are the kind of quick, easy solutions which can really help when an addict feels lonely or desperate. The irony is picking up the phone, the very tool that makes it easy for addicts to find sex, is also the same tool that can save their lives.