Pornography addiction is defined by a compulsion to view sexually explicit material. Although there has been debate over the years about the true effect of pornography, recent studies show increasing evidence that consistent use of pornography can alter the chemistry of the body, affect brain patterns and judgment as well as influence a person’s ability to maintain a healthy relationship. The number of pornography addiction cases has grown significantly with the ease and convenience of the internet as well as the various mediums on which it is available. The pornography industry has grown into a 9.5 billion dollar a year business, and is often supportive of the human trafficking industry. While pornography addiction used to be viewed as a simple matter of self-control, researchers have now concluded that it is on par with an alcohol or substance abuse addiction. Individuals should not expect to overcome the addiction on their own and there are now more resources than ever to help those with a pornography addiction learn to overcome their compulsion and regain a healthy life.
Meeting regularly with a therapist experienced in sexual addiction is crucial for recovery. Through Cognitive Behavior Therapy, counselors can help their clients identify triggers that lead to pornography use and create a plan that establishes boundaries and will help them avoid recurrences. Therapists can help addicts gain the tools they need to establish healthy sexual relationships. Pornography recovery is a lifelong battle and recognizing the triggers in your life that might cause a relapse will ensure success.
Group Therapy and 12 Step Programs
Accountability is essential for a pornography addict as the behaviors that cause it are grown in secrecy and isolation. Addicts need to bring their condition into the light and maintain a dialog in order to aid recovery. Reporting to a group that not only understands the concerns and pitfalls of the addiction can create an environment of empathy while reversing the solitary nature of the compulsion. Sex is a normal part of healthy life and because it is not reasonable to abstain entirely, step by step programs allow individuals to control their addiction through lifestyle changes and regular accountability.
Recent studies have suggested that pornography addictions are often connected to underlying concerns or conditions that remain unresolved. Recovery will not be successful if the root of the problem is not addressed. Psychotherapy can be extremely useful for diagnosing the issues that may have led to compulsive sexual behavior. In some cases, drug therapy can treat many of the accompanying symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
Rebooting involves a supervised period in which an addict takes a break from sexual related activities. Consistent pornography use leads to changes within the brain, including the body’s dopamine levels, leading to erectile dysfunction and desensitization. Although abstaining from all things sexual is a not a realistic long term solution, rebooting allows the body time to re-regulate the sexual centers of the brain. Rebooting should be undertaken with the advice and counsel of a professional and will often be practiced in conjunction with behavioral or cognitive therapy. The support of family members is essential for rebooting to be effective.
In the case of a particularly severe addiction, an individual may benefit from attending an inpatient treatment facility. Patients have access to a full range of therapy as well as getting a head start on their “sobriety” as they are temporarily removed from daily triggers and temptations. Aside from 24 hour a day monitoring, patients are encouraged to eat healthy food, exercise and participate in approved daily activities. Additionally, participants are surrounded by others who are going through the same struggles. Release from an inpatient facility is intended to include group or outpatient therapy for continued recovery.
It is important for pornography addicts and their loved ones to understand that the compulsion is extremely difficult to overcome and cannot be undertaken alone. Although it may have started out that way, it is not simply a matter of self-control or personal strength. Although seeking help may seem humiliating or difficult, it is essential to the recovery process. If you or someone you love has concerns and questions about pornography addiction and recovery options, please contact us at Desert Solace.