I want to address the other part of nightlife that is often not discussed in recovery.
Let’s not kid ourselves, these are weird experiences. You wake up with that immediate sense of “What the heck?” Not a nice way to start your day. For the guy who is recovering from pornography, you may have a wet dream and then wonder, “does this count as a slip?” These kinds of experiences certainly bring up some interesting questions.
The best way I have found to explain it is simply that when you have engaged in PMO (Porn-Masturbation-Orgasm) consistently over a long period of time, your brain gets used to it. If you suddenly stop doing it (congrats on that by the way), your brain gets confused.
Sexual experiences hit the most primal parts of our brain, so you can’t really fool it. The same way that if you go on a diet and trash all of the junk food in your house, for the first few days you’ll feel great but eventually your brain will start to imagine chocolate bars and chips.
The brain knows what it wants. So your brain will start to creatively find ways to get this urge/need met. And this is where wet dreams come into play. Your brain will create these dreams to give it the release it so desperately wants.
So what should you do? Simple, move on. It is not a slip. You did not consciously choose to do it. Acknowledge it as a real part of recovery, give God thanks for the progress you’ve made, and stay the course. Do not let a wet dream derail you, it is simply part of the recovery process.
One of my clients gave an excellent outline of what you can expect physiologically as you embark on the recovery journey. I hope this is a help to you as pursue greater levels of freedom and sexual integrity.
Week 1 – No real physical effects; you may find it difficult to progress past the first 7 days just from habits you’ve developed.
Week 2 – More frequent erections, fantasizing, wet dreams, epididymal hypertension or congestion in the groin (blue balls), and possible seminal fluid (precum) leakage
Week 3 – No sexual desire and few or no erections (including morning wood), along with moodiness and anxiety. Flatline can last 2–3 weeks. It is a sign of neuroplasticity (physical changes in your brain) and chemical rebalancing in your body
Aftershocks – Slips past the flatline period may be followed by aftershocks (a few days of more desire for porn and/or masturbation), but these will eventually fade.
This isn’t the exact experience for everyone, but it gives a good framework to start with. And if you’re looking for a little more help with understanding the recovery journey, check out my two-step webinar. It could be really helpful.
Cheering you on,
Join our mailing list to receive the latest on addiction recovery including success stories, FAQs, clinical findings, and practical tools you can apply TODAY.