The truth about addictive behavior is that cognitive, rational thinking is not engaged and our animal-like amygdala has taken control. If you have spent time in recovery, you've heard the saying that acting out behavior is "crazy." Addicts are not thinking when they are in the addictive bubble, euphoric zone, or zoned-out. At the time of acting out, an addict has an altered reality. Let's take a moment to reflect on how an addict can make different choices in order to create a different outcome.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) uses an acronym, HALT, to identify the real needs and wants of our body before we drink again. The acronym HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. This AA teaching is aimed to make alcoholics aware of the real needs and wants of their body before they move to drinking behavior. All addiction recovery must begin by becoming aware of what your body or mind is doing, saying, needing, and wanting before you act out.
In the compulsive sexual behavior arena, the AA acronym has been modified to include additional needs and wants experienced before you go forward with whatever you acting out behavior. This acronym is BHLAST and described in detail below.
B stands for Bored.
Many addicts find this mental mindset to be overwhelming and highly uncomfortable. To change this mood is the prime objective. Realizing you are bored can make you aware that other activities or interruptions can stop this addictive motivator.
H stands for Hungry.
We need to take care of the basic needs of our body. When we repeatitively act out sexually, our brain forms new neural pathways and percieves this stimulation of the brain as a "need" though it is not a basic daily need. Feed your body nourishing food and stop this urge from manifesting as sexual need.
L stands for Lonely.
Uncomfortable feelings of any kind move us toward mood alteration. When loneliness shows up, recognize it and act healthily. Call a friend, sponsor, accountability partner, your spouse, other relatives, or anyone. Do not try to fight these feelings of loneliness, rather find something healthy to do to respond to that feeling.
A stands for Angry.
If any emotion is understood and practiced often, at least by men, it is anger. We know when we are angry. But if we analyze our anger we may see there is something else at it's root: feeling frustrated, manipulated, betrayed, fooled, tricked, sad, hurt, or unappreciated. Become aware of what fuels your anger and talk to someone about the “real” emotion instead of just showing anger.
S stands for Stressed.
You know when you are stressed, anxious, and panicky. Analyze the cause of the stress and take a time-out to write down what the real issue(s) are. As you stop, you can slow everything down before you desperately act-out. You are not desperate, just stressed. Provide yourself with a time-out to cool down.
T stands for Tired.
Just as we have explained above regarding the other emotional motivators, you must get better at becoming aware of what your body or mind really needs or wants. Sexual acting out only postpones the action to healthily address your truth—it never satisfies or changes the facts or your situation for longer than the time you spent acting out. In addition, after acting out you now feel shame, guilt, and powerlessness in addition to still needing to fix your real concern.
Addictive behavior does not "just happen." There are steps taken to move toward or away from the behavior. Recovery requires you get aware of yourself, your mind, your body, your real needs.