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porn addiction treatment

Porn addiction doesn’t happen overnight. You probably won’t get addicted the first time you watch porn. But if it becomes an activity that you can’t control or quit, it may be time to seek help. 

Many people experiencing porn addiction feel shame surrounding their addiction and fear about opening up. But left untreated, porn addiction can consume your life and damage your relationships, finances, and career. There are effective methods of porn addiction treatment that can pinpoint the root of the addiction and help you heal. 

Understanding Porn Addiction

Porn addiction is when a person becomes emotionally dependent on porn to the point that viewing becomes compulsive and uncontrollable, affecting their everyday life. How do you know when you should consider seeking help? If you want to stop and have repeatedly tried but have been unsuccessful, you may be experiencing porn addiction.

Symptoms of porn addiction also include:

  • Increased porn viewing
  • Feeling guilty about watching
  • No longer enjoying sex
  • Spending a lot of time viewing pornography
  • Constant craving for more
  • Increased tolerance for more extreme or violent porn
  • Neglecting responsibilities or sleep to view more
  • Feeling like you need a porn “fix”
  • Low self-esteem
  • Experiencing sexual dysfunction

So, what causes someone to become addicted to porn? Unresolved trauma often results in addiction. Leading sex addiction expert, Dr. Patrick Carnes, found that “97% of people with sex addiction suffered emotional abuse in childhood or adolescence, while 81% suffered sexual abuse.”

People who have experienced one or more Adverse Childhood Experiences are more likely to have addictions later in life. When a child experiences trauma, it shrinks the part of the brain responsible for processing emotion and memory. Trauma also affects other parts of the brain, like those associated with decision-making, self-regulation, and fear processing. 

Trauma in childhood doesn’t go away if left unprocessed. It’s not unusual for adults to experience symptoms of childhood trauma

Unprocessed trauma that happens in adulthood also can result in addiction. 

Regardless of when the trauma occurs, an individual may use pornography to deal with emotional distress. When porn makes them feel better, their brain remembers that response and wants to repeat the activity, which eventually results in addiction and an inability to stop. 

Porn addiction is unlikely to disappear without treatment. You need help uncovering and healing from the root cause of the addiction. Then you can address the behavior.

Ed Tilton, Regional Director of Integrative Life Network, said treatment helps re-establish healthy coping skills and true intimacy.

“This is best done by a professional who can see patterns, traumas, and behaviors for what they are,” he said.

Risks of Untreated Porn Addiction 

If left untreated, porn addiction can drastically affect your everyday life and physical and mental well-being. 

Effects of untreated porn addiction include those on:

  • Lifestyle. When porn is your constant habit, it can replace responsibilities at work or day-to-day tasks. 
  • Behavior. Because people often feel ashamed of porn addiction, they may lash out or become secretive around others, even those trying to help.
  • Physical Well-Being. Your brain changes while addicted to porn. The brain’s reward system is hijacked, and parts of your brain can shrink. Porn addiction can also cause sexual dysfunction or the inability to perform sexually with a partner. 
  • Emotions. Porn addiction often causes shame, guilt, and low self-esteem, which can lead to depression and anxiety.
  • Relationships. People experiencing porn addiction may have unrealistic expectations of beauty or sexual performance and may pressure their partner to do risky sexual acts. They might also seek sexual fulfillment outside their relationship. Porn addiction can also cause secrecy, shame, and sexual frustration in relationships.
  • Society. Escalation is typical in addiction. To get the next fix, some people may resort to illegal or exploitative measures, which impact those in contact with them. 

Treatment Methods for Porn Addiction

Taking control of your porn addiction can feel overwhelming, but there are methods you can employ on your own and with professional help to find healing.

Trauma-focused treatments, including brainspotting and psychodrama, are helpful for addiction, Ed said. He said:

“A good treatment is anything that helps the client deal with the emotional connection between past emotional wounds and their desire to continue in self-destructive behaviors.”

An intensive like the ones offered at Begin Again Institute helps people get a jump start in the trauma-focused work that results in recovery, Ed said.

Other recovery methods include:

  • Attending talk therapy or couples counseling
  • Identifying your triggers, or what makes you want to view porn, and avoiding them
  • Being aware of relapse signs and having a plan of action
  • Monitoring any porn withdrawal symptoms and having a plan to cope with them when they happen 
  • Finding a support group

What Constitutes Effective Treatment?

Many different approaches to porn addiction treatment exist, which means you must learn about them and determine what’s right for you.

Effective treatment consists of:

  • Identifying Improvement. Recognize the small achievements that move you closer to your goals. Journaling about your progress can help you identify celebratory milestones.
  • Reaching Goals. Know what you want to achieve and set out to achieve it. No matter how long the road is, you can find success.
  • Utilizing Learned Skills. Practicing healthy skills turns into healthy habits. Utilize effective techniques to redirect your time and attention away from porn.
  • Preventing Relapse. Recognize your shortcomings and work on them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel yourself slipping.
  • Coping with Relapse. Learn from your past mistakes and start again. There is always an opportunity to find healing.

Take the First Step Toward Recovery

If porn addiction has consumed your life, damaged relationships, and made you unhappy with yourself, it’s time to change. At Begin Again Institute, we employ effective methods of porn addiction treatment that have helped hundreds of men turn their lives around and achieve lasting recovery. 

Healing is available for anyone willing to take the first step. You don’t have to do it alone. With trained mental health counselors who recognize the root of addiction, you’ll have the support you need to start your journey to recovery. Contact us today to find authentic healing. 

  • Category: Pornography Addiction
  • By Begin Again Institute
  • January 23, 2023

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