Treating Porn Addiction
Porn addiction or rather sex addiction, like many addictions is a form of escapism, and as a result it has an inherent capacity to diminish an individual’s social relationships and distort their sexual activities in a way that continues to destroy their lives by causing harm to themselves and others (Hall, 2018).
Porn acts as a superficial sexual stimulant and is often used to enhance visual, audio and sensational experiences accompanying the process of masturbation (Hall, 2012). This is done in order to achieve a release from compounded sexual tension and frustration that accumulates when an individual’s healthy sexual desires are not met (Hall, 2018). This means that it acts on the brain in the same way as many other drugs, in that it stimulates an individual’s pleasure centre and releases dopamine into the individual’s brain when they indulge in such activities (Hall, 2012). Repeated excessively over time, this can lead to worsening consequences that occur when an individual indulges in this addictive activity in order to cater to what in its natural form is a healthy drive for procreation and recreation (Hall, 2012).
Withdrawal from reality and deviation towards sexual fantasies and the pursuit of purely sexual interests in instances where an individual experiences stressors in life are common place in sex addiction (Carnes and Adams, 2019). An individual will in such instances, use pornography and other sexual activities to seek relief from these stressors, further reinforcing the habit making the individual even more inclined to sexualize stress and any other forms of discomfort associated with building healthy relations with other human beings or facing life challenges (Carnes & Adams, 2019). This is reflective of one of the many psychological detriments that are brought about by porn/sex addiction as well as how this illness progresses (Hall, 2018).
Most porn/sex addicts develop a view of the people in their lives that is different than that of others who are not as afflicted as they are (Carnes & Adams, 2019). To a porn/sex addict, people tend to become objects, as the addictive disease takes hold of an individual’s mind and relationships become tools for sexual relief. This characteristic is a manifestation of porn/sex addiction in the addict’s social life as it refers mainly to how an individual gripped by this affliction relates to others in their lives (Carnes & Adams, 2019).
This is often known to lead to social withdrawal as the porn addict begins to isolate themselves even further, mistaking the apprehension and concern of others regarding their sexual activities as an aberration of them as human beings, therefore setting them apart from the normal (Carnes & Adams, 2019).
With human beings being social creatures, the withdrawal and isolation brought upon by porn/sex addiction contributes to further disregard an individual places in themselves- and others, and contributes to other self-destructive habits (Hall, 2018). The fact that an individual seeks a superficial relief from stressors using porn can often act as an indicator for unmet needs (Hall, 2012).
The premise of unmet needs often acts as a foundation for recovery from porn/sex addiction, as is the case with most addictions the acceptance of the futility and pain that the addict continues to experience and the lack of pleasure that occurs from individuals being constantly jaded causes them to reevaluate their approach to relief and question if this high is worth the pain and price (Carnes & Adams, 2019).
If they get to this point, it then becomes possible to utilize the twelve step programmes of various sex and love based process addiction fellowship support groups such as Sex and Love addicts Anonymous and Sex Addicts Anonymous to alleviate this affliction (Carnes & Adams, 2019). This is done by utilizing self-reflective exercises to review the individuals sexual conduct over the years past and to help them identify the experiences that they preferred to do in isolation as unhealthy and toxic (Hall, 2018).
An added effect of this initial process is to help individuals embrace the reality that their sexual and social activities never quite fulfilled their needs and as such these needs have become overbearing and unmanageable (Carnes & Adams, 2019). They also come to realize, that they have reinforced the habit for so long that sudden cessation without assistance becomes almost impossible (Carnes & Adams, 2019).
These are the first and second steps of the recovery process from porn addiction and this is immediately followed by the introduction of healthy behaviors that act to stimulate an individual’s social drive and to bring the individuals sexual drives to a point of equilibrium (Hall, 2018).
After this, the individual begins to reinforce their recovery by committing these healthier behaviours into a set of practices that can be carried out daily (Carnes & Adams, 2019). This is the third step in the recovery process, which is proceeded by an inventory of the individuals social, emotional and mental conduct revolving around their sex lives and how this has affected them and others. This is done to identify the individual’s part (responsibility) in these situations as well as where they have been at fault and where they have not. These are the fourth and fifth steps in the recovery process and these are often used to determine an individual’s locus of control (Hall, 2018).
At this point of the recovery process the individual has developed a desire to continue to recover from their sex addiction by acting in a way that is contrary to their past behaviour and by identifying and reconciling any damage that they had done by acting out (Carnes & Adams, 2019). This brings this discussion to steps six through to step nine of the recovery process this is then followed by the maintenance and growth aspects of this programme which involve yet another self-reflective exercise, which helps an individual identify their behaviour daily and actively work to correct it (Carnes & Adams, 2019).
The tenth step is when an individual constantly reinforces their new behaviour by practicing it with others and by using various meditative exercises to help regulate themselves in the face of the many challenges that life is sure to present them (Carnes & Adams, 2019). After this, the addict utilizes the process of giving back to society. He or she shares their individual recovery, providing an opportunity to contribute to the recovery of others (Hall, 2018).
Sex addiction often comes across as the willful sexual exploitation on oneself or others or both, what the SLAA or SAA twelve steps are aimed at accomplishing with regards to sex and pornography addiction, is to emphasize an individual’s sense of self-love. Many sex and porn addicts have a misconception of their needs and as such are not often readily equipped with the knowledge of how to cater to them effectively (Carnes & Adams, 2019).
Henceforth another primary function of the SLAA and SAA twelve step is to debunk myths and distorted thinking in afflicted individuals by providing practical methods for them to apply in their lives, which when practiced regularl, alter their perception of themselves, others and the nature of sex and porn for them (Carnes & Adams, 2019). They eventually begin to perceive such forms of detachment as unhealthy, unneeded and unwanted (Hall, 2018). Through following this process and developing a willingness to have healthier sexual and social relationships many who have followed this path have recovered (Carnes & Adams, 2019).
In conclusion, porn addiction has been seen to have detrimental effects on an individual despite how casually it is approached. It can also be seen that addiction to pornography is a manifestation of the addictive disease. What also becomes clear is the solution and the hope that no one need suffer for too long in the face of this ailment when true relief from life’s stressors lies in overcoming and not avoiding.
If you or a loved one are battling an addiction to porn and are in search of rehabilitation – know that help is readily available. The road to recovery is not always an easy one but getting yourself or your loved one the best care from the team at Crossroads Recovery Centre, Johannesburg, provides you with a map to sober, healthy living. No matter how bad things seem, there is hope and it’s just a phone call away. If you or anyone close to you needs help with an addiction to sex, gambling, substances, alcohol or food, please contact us for a free assessment.
Hall, P. (2018). Understanding and treating sex and pornography addiction: A comprehensive guide for people who struggle with sex addiction and those who want to help them. Routledge.
Hall, P. (2012). Understanding and treating sex addiction: A comprehensive guide for people who struggle with sex addiction and those who want to help them. Routledge.
Carnes, P.J., & Adams, A.M.(2019). Clinical management of sex Addiction. Routledge.
Stories of Recovery
- The encouragement, love and support from the team at Crossroads allowed me to eventually see that I was worth something - that my life could be turned around and that I could accomplish the things that had long been a forgotten dream.Oliver VGRead more
- On the last day of my stint at Crossroads I could only express gratitude towards all who works there. A wise councillor once commented on my question when one is ready for rehab by explaining that when one is ready for rehab, rehab is ready for you.Johan BRead more
- I was lost and my soul was broken until I ended up at Crossroads and was introduced to the Twelve Steps. With the help of their excellent staff and amazing support I have recently been clean for 18 months, I could not have done it without them!Carla SRead more
- "Just for today I am more than three years in recovery. I have Cross Roads to thank for this wonderful gift. Cross Roads helped me to set a firm foundation in my recovery on which I can continue to build."Angelique JRead more