Utah residential facility to offer treatment for porn 'addicts' St. George • Desert Solace offers therapy, integrate family into process.

SOURCE: Salt lake Tribune 2_22_2012  http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=53547323&itype=CMSID

A St. George couple hopes to open what they believe would be Utah's first residential treatment center for pornography "addiction."

Mark Jorgensen and his wife, Jerri, are seeking state approval to open the 5-acre Desert Solace for up to eight men whose treatment would consist of 45 days of talk therapy combined with outdoor exercise and a healthy diet. Cellphones and computers will not be allowed, and sex offenders will not be eligible. The treatment will cost $8,000, but the Jorgensens believe insurers will cover at least the psychotherapy portion.

"It will give those addicted to porn a chance to get away from everyday life and just focus on their problem," said Jorgensen, who describes himself as a former pornography addict who wants to help others overcome their obsession. "It will give them freedom and a chance to take back their lives."

While the Jorgensens use the term addiction, there is ongoing debate over whether compulsive use of pornography is a true addiction.

Ted Wander, a Salt Lake City psychiatrist and member of the Utah Psychiatric Association governing board, said there is no consensus on that question within the treatment community.

Drug addicts and porn abusers have some commonalities, he said. Dopamine, an organic chemical that plays a role in the brain's so-called pleasure and reward centers and is present in higher levels in drug addicts, is also found in the brains of pornography users, according to Wander. And people whose lives revolve around pornography can demonstrate behavior similar to alcoholics and drug addicts, including a lack of understanding of the negative consequences of their actions. But excessive use of pornography "is not recognized [as an addiction] in the diagnostic manuals used by the American Psychiatric Association," he said.

He didn't know of any existing residential program in Utah dedicated to porn users.

The Jorgensens said they plan to apply by March for a permit from the Division of Family Services to treat eight male residents at a time, and may want to expand that number to 12 in the future. The couple has been hosting open houses of the facility, located in northern St. George near Snow Canyon State Park, and describe the community as accepting of the idea.