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Recovery From Porn Addiction

By January 30, 2020 June 19th, 2020 No Comments

Porn addiction can be a debilitating condition.

It can have a range of severe psychological and emotional effects. It can damage the addicted person’s relationships, their personal life and their professional standing. However, with the right support, lasting recovery from porn addiction is an achievable goal.

Our last blog post discussed some of the common signs of porn addiction. This one will discuss the recovery process.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with porn addiction, understanding this process can be a crucial step towards achieving it. We will focus on the requirements of recovery and the different phases of the process. We will also discuss the effect of porn addiction on the brain and how it can be reversed over time through treatment.

While sex addiction and porn addiction are often linked, they can also exist independent of one another. These blog posts focus exclusively on porn addiction.

If you are interested, we previously published blog posts on the common signs of sex addiction and  everything we know about sex addiction.

What is Porn Addiction?

First of all, an addiction is when someone abuses substances such as alcohol or drugs to the point where their body becomes overly dependent on the substance to function. Overtime this dependence could turn into cravings for the substance and eventually the body will become unstable without it. It is undeniable that the abuse of addictive substances will only harm the body in the long-run.

Nevertheless, non-substance related addictions can be as harmful to a person’s mind and body. 

Many people do not consider porn addiction as a ‘real’ addiction and that the minds of those who view pornographic material obsessively do not behave the same way as the mind of drug users. However, there are many studies that argue that it can be considered a very real addiction. There are people who become consumed with sexual thoughts and behaviours that their impulse to watch pornography can be comparable to that of a nicotine addict needing a cigarette. Although porn addiction may not be a physical disorder it is labelled as a behavioural disorder that can impact a person’s relationship with the people around them and the way they act in their daily life. 

Porn addiction is when the brain becomes dependent on pornography to experience dopamine surges, therefore, it will cause a lack of control over their sexual behaviour. The obsessive consumption of pornography is the brain demanding stimulus provided by watching pornographic material. The constant craving for these dopamine surges can reduce the brain’s response to ordinary stimuli. What this means is that it could very well impact a person’s psychological and emotional needs.

Signs of a Porn Addiction

Many people who are addicted to porn and try to stop, experience the same symptoms of withdrawal that alcoholics and drug users face. 

Common signs of addiction to any substance would include:

  • Constant craving for the substance
  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop
  • Increased tolerance to the substance
  • Compulsive behaviour leading to lack of control 
  • Continually being preoccupied with the activity

Common signs of Porn Addiction would include:

  • Constant craving to view pornography
  • Unable to stop viewing porn despite several attempts to do so
  • Experiencing anger or hostility when asked to quit using porn
  • Decreased interest in intimacy with one’s partner
  • Keeping one’s porn use a secret from a loved one. 

The Effects of Porn Addiction

Many people who suffer from porn addiction may feel embarrassed by their obsessive use and often lie to their friends or loved ones about watching it. They also tend to lie about what they are doing in order to continue watching it. In addition, people who are addicted to watching porn struggle to be intimate with people as they excessively masturbate to pornographic material to the point where intercourse is low. Porn addiction can damage many relationships including a couple’s relationship. Many individuals that have a partner with porn addiction experience, poor relationship quality, low self-esteem and low sexual satisfaction.  Untreated porn addiction may lead to broken relationships, low self-esteem, feelings of guilt, school or work problems, and financial issues. 

Effective Porn Addiction Treatment

While pornography addiction is a complex and debilitating condition, it can be overcome with effective treatment. The psychological and emotional aspects of porn addiction can be very deeply embedded. The addiction is also often linked to other addictions and concurrent mental health disorders. This means that treatment must be evidence-based and client-centred, confronting the underlying causes and consequences of the addiction rather than approaching the addiction in isolation.

Individual therapy alongside skills and process groups help addicted people to identify and address the causes of their addictions. They allow them to develop methods for coping with the specific challenges they face. Ultimately, effective, holistic treatment will provide the addicted person with the strongest possible foundation for recovery.

Pornography Effect on the Brain

Excessive use of pornography will have a range of effects over time. As discussed in our previous blog, it can have serious consequences for relationships and for your life at home and at work. However, it also has a range of effects on the brain.

Over time, porn addiction alters neurotransmitters. This means that the brain will come to depend on the chemical surges elicited by pornography. You will therefore require more and more to achieve the same effect. It also means that the brain’s response to other stimuli will be reduced. This makes it extremely difficult to end your use. The brain will demand the response provided by porn.

Initial Withdrawal

As discussed above, pornography addiction creates an intense psychological, physical and emotional dependence. This means that, as with most addictions, an addicted person in the early stages will experience withdrawal symptoms. Unlike withdrawal from alcohol or opiates, withdrawal in porn addiction does not pose a direct, physical danger to the addicted person. However, if you experience this process, you may experience a range of emotional and psychological side effects.

You may feel physical cravings, intense agitation, anxiety or depression. You may also experience insomnia. These withdrawal symptoms may last a number of weeks, but will usually diminish as you progress in your recovery. Withdrawal can be an intensely difficult experience. However, once you have made it through the process, you have made a very significant step towards lasting recovery. While you may still experience psychological and physical cravings, you will be in a much better position to resist them. This is particularly true if you are in evidence-based addiction treatment, which will help you to develop methods for coping with cravings and relapse triggers.

Treatment Effect On the Brain

Holistic, evidence-based treatment will allow you to address the underlying causes of porn addiction. It will also help you to develop practical, progressive methods for dealing with the daily challenges of recovery. As you progress in your recovery, the effects of pornography use on the brain will gradually diminish. This means that the brain will no longer demand the stimulus provided by pornography and that its response to other stimuli will gradually increase. While you will still face potential relapse triggers and other recovery challenges, this will make recovery much more sustainable.

Psychological and Emotional Needs

It is important to remember when working towards recovery that your addiction is routed in complex emotional and psychological causes. Treatment must identify and address these causes. It is also essential that you maintain a focus on these causes as you continue your recovery. You may need to alter your life in other ways to help you in your recovery. There may be certain relationships or habits in your life that jeopardize recovery. It may also be necessary to consider how you process and express emotions and how you communicate with those around you. Treatment will help you to do this. Good treatment centres will also offer porn addiction aftercare  services which will help you to maintain your focus on recovery.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with porn addiction, or if you have any questions on the subject, contact Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres today.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.