Mark Jorgensen Q&A: How Desert Solace Center Treats Sex Addiction
Residential Treatment Facility Open to Men 18 and Older from the Santa Clarita Valley or Anywhere Else Who are Affected by Pornography Addiction or Sex Addiction
Once underground, pornography has become a multi-billion-dollar aboveground business in the past half-century, and part of contemporary culture, for better or worse. In the past few decades, increasingly easy availability in print, home video, DVD and the Internet and have sped pornography’s spread.
In her May 2013 Wall St. Journal article “Online Pornography’s Effects, and a New Way to Fight Them,”columnist Holly Finn noted that “12 percent of websites are pornographic, and more than 40 million Americans are regular visitors, including 70 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds, who look at porn at least once a month.”
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While many men can take or leave viewing pictures or videos of other people having sex, for some, pornography can become an addiction. The associated addictive behavior, including denial, shame, guilt, withdrawal and more, can severely disrupt their own lives, and adversely affect their loved ones.
Fortunately for those men and their families, treatment for pornography addiction or sex addiction is also increasingly available, and the subject is being discussed more openly now than in years past.
Desert Solace Founded to Treat Pornography Addiction or Sex Addiction
In her WSJ story, Finn referenced one such residential treatment facility, Desert Solace. Located in St. George, Utah, Desert Solace takes a spiritually based, multi-discipline approach to treating pornography addiction and sex addiction.
Part of that approach includes providing education about “pornography (addiction) as a brain disease (not moral failure),” Finn wrote.
“This is a tricky one, because one could read that statement to say the addict has no responsibility or accountability for his actions,” said Mark Jorgensen, Desert Solace co-founder (with his wife, Jerri Jorgensen, pictured below) and the center’s managing director. He is also a recovering pornography addict.
“Of course, addiction begins with a choice to indulge in a particular behavior or substance,” he said. “But as addiction takes hold, the actions of the addict become a function of the more primitive midbrain, which governs the primal instinct of survival, instead of the frontal cortex, which govern logic and decision-making.”
“I’m certainly no neuroscientist, but there’s a great explanation online of what I’m talking about from one, Dr. Donald L. Hilton Jr., MD,” Jorgensen said. “Probably the best, simplest, layman’s explanation of addiction (in general) as a brain disease is found in a documentary called ‘Pleasure Unwoven’ by Dr. Kevin McCauley.”
The concept of addiction as a brain disease factors into Desert Solace’s therapy programs because the residential treatment center helps those addicted to pornography understand that recovery is only possible through healing the brain.
Residential Treatment Allows Time and Space for Healing the Mind, Body and Spirit
“That’s why we’re such staunch proponents of residential treatment,” Jorgensen said. “By being in an environment that completely eliminates access to pornography, the brain has time to settle down and begin to heal. The addict can again learn to access the logical part of his brain to facilitate his actions and decision-making.
“Also, as the addict comes to understand that his addiction has indeed damaged his brain, he’s able to let go of the belief that he just needs to try harder – along with (letting go of) the shame and frustration of repeated failure – and surrender to the therapeutic process,” he said. “That includes the spirituality inherent in the 12-Step program, which we believe is the foundation of true healing.”
Addiction is never the primary problem in the addict, Jorgensen noted.
“The addict is using addiction, whether it is to a substance or a behavior, to hide from some deeper pain,” he said.
In the Q&A that follows, Jorgensen candidly talks about his own pornography addiction and recovery, and how his experience led him to co-found Desert Solace to help others. He provides more details about how Desert Solace’s programs work, and how treatment there provides men addicted to pornography ways to deal with their deeper issues, and get back to a healthy, porn-free life.
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