Getting Help for a Porn Addiction

Porn Addiction Today, porn addiction is more prevalent than ever, due, in large part, to its accessibility. These days, you can easily find pornographic material on your smart phone, tablet, or laptop. And since in 2015, an estimated 64% of Americans owned a smartphone—up from 35% in 2011—we can access porn literally everywhere.1

In its simplest terms, porn addiction is a type of behavioral addiction characterized by a compulsion to view pornographic material that leads to negative consequences in the user’s life. Though it has been considered for inclusion as a diagnostic entity before, porn addiction is not an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM-5). Because it lacks the official designation as a mental health disorder, and is therefore unlikely to receive any insurance reimbursement, medical professionals may not treat porn addiction. Though the legitimacy of the concept remains controversial for many, the signs and symptoms of porn addiction mirror that of other common addictions, such as drug or alcohol addiction, in many ways.

If you or someone you know is unable to stop viewing porn and has experienced distress around it, treatment may be the best option

Typical Signs of a Porn Addiction

Behavioral addictions, of which porn addiction is one, are characterized by sensation-seeking. In fact, people with behavioral addictions score high on measures of impulsivity and thrill-seeking.2

Below are some common symptoms and side effects of a porn addiction:

  • You have an overpowering desire to watch porn.
  • You will go to any length to gain access to watching porn.
  • You increase the amount of porn you watch over time.
  • You spend the majority of your time watching pornography.
  • Your time watching pornography interferes with your daily life.
  • You feel depressed or sad when you stop watching porn.
  • Despite negative consequences such as job loss or divorce, you continue watching porn.
  • You compulsively masturbate, to the point where you may cause skin irritation or bleeding.
  • You have unsuccessfully tried to stop or reduce the behavior.
  • You isolate yourself so that you can watch porn.

If you exhibit a few or all of these symptoms, you may have an addiction to porn since these signs and symptoms are consistent with existing DSM-5 behavioral addictions.

Treatment Options Available

Behavioral Therapy

Treating Behavioral Addictions

  Treating behavioral addiction rehabilitation can be a complex endeavor, so finding the right people to guide you toward treatment can make all the difference.

Even though pornography is not a drug, it affects the brain in a similar way that addictive substances like drugs or alcohol do.2 An addiction to porn is also a psychological addiction, so in order to effectively treat it, you will work with a therapist or counselor to understand the underlying issues that fuel your addiction. The more you can understand why you engage in this behavior, the better positioned you are to address it and prevent it from happening again after treatment.

Porn addiction can be treated using a number of modalities and approaches, including:2

  • Behavioral Inpatient Treatment: Treatment is provided in inpatient or residential settings. The facility can be a hospital, a treatment center, or a home-like environment. After completing inpatient treatment, you may transition into outpatient treatment or continue with individual therapy.
  • Behavioral Intensive Outpatient Programs: These programs generally focus on helping you to identify what triggers your porn use, and what your beliefs are surrounding porn. The program is designed to help you develop healthier lifestyle choices and coping skills that will help you deal with urges or cravings to use porn after treatment.
  • Behavioral Individual/Group Therapy: Attending therapy is a great way to focus on your behaviors related to porn addiction and any other related issues. You will meet with a qualified mental health professional for 30- to 60-minute sessions. Group therapy can provide you with a community of likeminded individuals who are facing similar struggles.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Individual psychotherapy is a common approach for treating porn addiction. CBT, in particular, helps you to focus on triggers and reshape how you think about your addiction to using porn and is helpful in preventing relapse. CBT also helps you explore why you are driven to use porn and helps you change the thoughts behind your porn use into more positive or functional ones.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI): MI is a style of counseling that meets you where you are and helps you discover your internal motivation to recover. You then work with your therapist to strengthen this motivation to sustain your resolve for long-term recovery.
  • Mindfulness-Based Therapies: This type of therapy can help you learn more about your own mind and body. With your therapist, you learn strategies for how to recognize and cope with your thoughts or impulses to use porn. Different types of mindfulness-based therapies can help you work through your addiction to porn, including:
    • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
    • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).
    • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
    • Compassion-Focused Therapy.
  • Family/Couples Therapy: If your addiction to porn impacted your relationships with others, such as your family or spouse, therapy can help both parties reestablish trust, minimize shame and guilt, and restore a healthy sexual relationship, where appropriate.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy: This type of therapy can help you explore the conflicts that drive your sexual expression. Psychodynamic therapy works by helping you explore the unconscious drives, conflicts, and memories that may be influencing your behavior to use porn. When using this type of therapy, you will dig into early-childhood life events and how they may have contributed to specific habits or patterns in your life.
  • 12-Step Recovery: This may be the most widely used type of treatment for a porn addiction.2 12-step recovery programs, such as Sexual Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, and Sexaholics Anonymous, are free and modeled after traditional models like Alcoholics Anonymous. There is no data that evaluates how effective these programs are, however, many people attend these programs for support, guidance, and accountability.

Maintaining Long-Term Abstinence

Relapsing after treatment does not mean that you failed. In fact, it is completely normal to relapse after leaving a treatment program. For example, one survey found that among people who were treated for a drug addiction, 40% to 60% of individuals relapsed.3 One of the goals of treatment is to help you address issues as they naturally arise. By learning how to work through these issues with a professional, it will help prepare you to resist falling back into habits of porn use when you are in back in everyday life.

Planning ahead and creating an aftercare plan  before you leave your treatment program can make a significant difference in your long-term success. This will serve as a roadmap, helping you feel prepared to handle stressors or triggers. For example, if you identified that being around a certain person or situation often prompted you to want to use porn, you would map out the steps on how to best avoid that person or situation, or to move through the situation without falling back on your addiction.

Distraction to Avoid PornPart of this includes strategizing what you would do instead of using porn, if triggered. Examples of steps you could take to fight or distract yourself from the urge to use porn might include:

  • Taking a walk or doing another form of exercise.
  • Calling a friend or loved one.
  • Cooking food.
  • Listening to a favorite song.
  • Taking deep breaths.

With time and practice, you will discover what strategies work best for you, but simply having a plan in place can help you feel more secure as you transition out of treatment.

For many people, committing to ongoing individual therapy is pivotal in their aftercare plan. Knowing you have a place to work through problems with a skilled and compassionate professional who you have built a relationship with provides you the safety you need to share your feelings, fears, or concerns as you enter this new stage of your life and look forward to freedom from your addiction.

Finding treatment can help you get your life back on track and restore relationships with people you love. Our treatment placement specialists are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to help you find the best recovery center. Give us a call today at 1-888-287-0471 Who Answers? .

Sources

  1. Pew Research Center. (2015). U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015.
  2. Fong, T. W. (2006). Understanding and managing compulsive sexual behaviors. Psychiatry (Edgmont)3(11), 51–58.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Treatment and Recovery.

 

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