Want to Quit Porn? Here are 4 Things You Must Do

quit pornI’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to help people who are wanting to quit pornography but aren’t able to kick it. Of course, I talk almost everyday with men mostly about changing unwanted sexual behavior. But I wanted to learn more about how people were struggling.

 

I’ve had conversations with people all around the world in recent weeks. Men who have told me that they cannot stop masturbating. Men who have shared that they relapse again and again without understanding why. Men who have asked me in desperation for tips, strategies, and tools to stop.

 

I’ve listened. Based on all of my experience, training, and these conversations, here are four things you need to do to quit porn for good.

A Tale of Two Selves: Leading a Double Life

leading a double lifeBy all appearances, Gary (who’s not real, by the way) is a successful businessman, a loving father and husband, even an elder at his church. He is respected in his social circles, esteemed in his business, and loved by his family.

 

Behind the facade, though, Gary leads a very different life. He watches porn, though far less than he used to as his interest in getting massages with happy endings at local parlors has taken off. He slips in visits with prostitutes at hotels in the area between meetings, skimming money from his business to hide it from his wife. He covers his tracks, making sure that his secret life stays a secret.

 

Gary comes to see me because afraid he may have an STD and he’s not sure what to do. More than that, he confides he’s getting tired of the effort required to maintain his double life. Gary is typical of the clients that I see that are struggling sexual behaviors that have gotten out of hand.

 

And, like many of my clients, he wonders how things got this far, why keeps doing what he does, and how he could live two such drastically different lives.

 

The answer? In a word, shame.

Four Ways of Dealing with Urges and Cravings

dealing with urges and cravingsIf you’re in recovery or trying to change a habit that isn’t working for you, you need to find ways of dealing with urges and cravings. That is, you need to become more aware of the thought patterns and feelings that led to you giving in to your desire to engage your habit. Whether it’s shopping, gambling, sex, pornography, eating, or using alcohol or drugs, you’re probably pretty familiar with the desire to engage that habit before actually acting on it; that feeling is called an urge or craving.

 

Cravings are important because they act as precursors to engaging our problematic habit or behavior. Cravings say, “Hey, we need to gamble/smoke/drink/watch porn right now!” We stay stuck in our habits because we listen to that voice without thinking. If we’re to change our habit, we need to find different ways of interacting with the thoughts and feelings associated with our cravings in order to avoid automatically giving in.

Basic Tools for Overcoming Porn Addiction

Overcoming porn addictionOvercoming porn addiction is no easy task. That online pornography is so widely available and accessible means that pornography is just a click away. That porn can be viewed anonymously makes it easy for its use to stay secret.

 

Many people struggle in isolation with overcoming porn addiction and they often don’t know where to start. Here are some of my most commonly used tools and tips that I share all the time with clients to help them kick their porn habit.

Sex Addiction and Porn Addiction Get a Diagnosis

Sex addiction and porn addiction get a diagnosisIt’s finally happening. After years or research and many studies, sex addiction and porn addiction will this year be officially recognized as mental disorders.

 

Diagnosing an Addiction

At some point in 2018, perhaps as soon as this summer, the World Health Organization (WHO) will release the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The ICD is the definitive diagnostic manual for medical and psychological conditions and disorders everywhere in the world except for the United States.

Stages of Addiction: When Experimentation Becomes an Addiction

What are the stages of addiction? Maybe you’ve been using a substance for a while and you’re wondering if you’re addicted. Perhaps you’re watching a loved one use drugs or gamble and you’re not sure if his use counts as an addiction.

 

Whatever’s going on, knowing more about how drug use and other habitual behaviors with addictive potential (e.g., shopping, gambling, sex, porn) can progress would be really helpful. For the sake of keeping things simple, for the rest of this post I’m just going to refer to any habit that may progress through these stages as “drug use” or “substance use,” with the understanding that we’re also talking about these other habitual behaviors too.

Understanding the Addiction Neuropathways

In my previous post, we talked briefly about addiction interaction and how addictions can co-occur in different ways. As we saw, it’s crucial to understand addiction interaction disorder because it can pose a danger to recovery as the possibility of one addiction replacing another is very real.

 

Moreover, addictions can interact with one another at the same time in highly complex ways. So while is always critical to get help for the most life-threatening addiction first, it’s important to be thoroughly honest with oneself while in recovery about all of the addictions present in one’s life.

7 Signs You May Have a Problem with Porn Addiction

That we are sexual beings a basic fact of our humanity. Our survival depends on gratifying our sexual desires to perpetuate the species. So just as we need to satisfy our drives to eat and drink, we also experience sexual desires that long to be fulfilled. With the explosion of technology over the last twenty years and the birth of the Internet, it’s no surprise that we’ve found many ways of satisfying our sex drive online with pornography.

 

Many people use online pornography casually: they use porn infrequently and their interest isn’t sustained over time; they don’t feel guilt or shame as a result of their viewing porn; they seek out porn and cybersex activities occasionally for fun or curiosity; they find real intimacy and relationships more fulfilling than porn.

 

For many others, however, the story is quite different. So common is compulsive consumption of porn that “porn addiction” is now recognized as one form of sex addiction. To understand at-risk porn use, then, we need to take a quick glimpse at sex addiction.