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Internet pornography addiction is a serious ailment, although there is some controversy in the professional field about whether or not it is an ailment. A person who views pornography experiences the same types of dopamine rewards as a person who abuses cocaine or other hard drugs.  Their brains go through the same spiral of desensitization and require the same increase of stimuli in order to get the same high.  Pornography abusers experience many serious emotional and physical side effects, including a decrease of testosterone, a higher risk for obesity and certain types of cancer; they also often experience depression and self-loathing. Unlike physical hard drugs there are no limits to pornography use, pornography is also generally legal and readily available.  These facts make it extremely hard to quit pornography.

It is possible to break the habit of pornography use. Breaking the cycle requires fortitude, but it becomes easier with understanding, a few simple techniques, and coping mechanisms.  Addiction to any substance is a type of “obsessive compulsive cycle”.  This cycle starts with a compulsive thought, in this case sexual thoughts, or the desire to partake in pornography and masturbation. The first inclination is repress or avoid the thought, but then the craving grows, and the addict tends to give in. This behavior is closely followed by feelings of shame and the determination never to slip up again. After a period of time, the craving returns and the cycle renews.

One technique for breaking the cycle is to practice ERP or exposure and response prevention.  With this technique an addict imagines being in triggering environment, such as being alone with a computer, and then manages the physiological response that that environment causes through breathing.  After the physiological response has slowed then the addict follows up with an act of self-care.  Through practice, it becomes easier to manage a real triggering environment until the craving passes.  In this modern day and age it is nearly impossible to avoid technology and the internet, a pornography addict is better off learning to reduce the response to triggering environments.

Another tool that helps break the cycle of compulsive addiction is the use of accountability software that monitors internet use. There are programs available that simply record internet use and report it to an accountability partner, there are others that block certain sites as well as recording sites visited.

Many people also find twelve step programs to be very useful when breaking free of an addiction.  They are widely available and in larger cities it is likely that there is more than one group going on concurrently.  There is some criticism surrounding these programs, but it is possible to take what works and then leave the rest.

It is essential to practice self-care while trying to break the cycle of addiction. Self care includes maintaining a healthy diet, sleeping at least eight hours a night, drinking enough water, and being kind to yourself during any slip ups.  It might also be helpful to journal or keep a blog recording the experience. This is because writing is very cathartic and a useful way to sort through emotions.

Pornography addiction is similar to any other addiction. Breaking free of porn takes fortitude, but it is possible with the right coping techniques and network of friends and family.