A Practical Guide to Giving up Online Pornography

A Practical Guide to Giving up Online Pornography
Online pornography can effect people in many ways over time because of the many habits and behaviours associated with using it. For many users it doesn’t develop into a problem of any kind and may have no obvious negative consequences. However for some people it can develop into a very serious problem as it becomes a normal part of life. Here are over 20 practical ways to help you overcome pornography for good.

Online pornography effects users in many ways.

Excessive and long-term habitual use of pornography can have many negative effects on the individuals overall well-being and how they think, act and feel. The problem does not lie with the pornography content alone but with the sexual acting out, short term reward cycle and associations connected with it. Porn sites are also developed to be highly sensually and neurologically stimulating, designed to engage users for as long as possible, just like gambling websites. This makes them intriguing and compelling to keep accessing. With porn being so free and easy to access, it can make it difficult to stop permanently.

Pornography addiction which is kept hidden and untreated creates great conflict between the individuals inner and outer world.

Porn addiction can become a complex problem and is directly connected with sexual functioning, desire and the arousal process. Over-consumption can effect sexual health, performance, intimacy and overall relationship health. Research confirms it can distorts the perception of real normal healthy natural sex and intimacy, making it feel unfulfilling.

The nature of addiction is that it takes people away from loved ones and family, leaving the addict disconnected. In a relationship this translates into them turning away and shutting down for their partner, neglecting their basic relationship needs. With the secrecy and privacy that comes with using online pornography this disconnection is really magnified.

The good news is pornography does not have to be a part of your life and you can live a fulfilling happy life without porn. All men do not use pornography. This is a common belief system among many porn addicts. It is difficult to measure and understand the benefits of giving up pornography until you give it up. Most clients feel their relationships greatly improve, they are more driven in work, experience less stress and anxiety and overall have a more positive outlook on life because they are no longer caught in a cycle of addiction.

How do I know if I have a problem with pornography?

The best way to find out if you have a problem with pornography is to give it up for a period of time and see how easy or difficult that experience is for you. If it is already having negative consequences on your life, causing problems with your sex life, creating conflict in your relationship or you have tried and failed to stop many times then it is most likely already a problem.

Giving up online pornography may often mean giving up the way you use social media or any content which may trigger an arousal or desire to act out sexually or which feeds into being preoccupied by sex and sexually compulsive behavior.

Practical ways to stop using online pornography.

If you think you have a problem or you know for sure you have a problem it can be difficult to know where to start. If you would like to book an appointment to talk about how porn is effecting your life click here. Here are some of my suggestions and tools to consider which I explore with clients who come for sex and pornography addiction counselling.

Decide to Stop.

Make a decision to start stopping, significantly cut down or to stop cold turkey altogether for a period of time i.e 7 days, 21 days, 90 days. It is important to start setting goals for yourself to feel motivated and focused. In recovery, the first 90 days of total abstinence paves the way for new habits and behaviours.

Get offline.

Spend less time online on your phone, laptop and tablet. If you want to move away from online pornography then you need to significantly reduce how much time you spend online in order to reduce your risk of acting out in the early months of recovery. Get offline and into the real world.

Talk to someone.

Talking about what you are going through is an important part of coming to terms with any problem. If you are in a relationship, start talking to your loved one about what you are going though so that you have extra support and also someone to be accountable to who you can discuss your progress and hopes with.

Get professional help.

Get the help of a professional Psychotherapist or Addiction Counsellor who works with sex and pornography addiction as early as possible. This will massively increase your chances of success. Its important to find the right therapist for your problem. They will help support, guide and motivate you to overcome pornography and help you understand how it started and the best way forward. Stay working with your therapist until pornography is no longer a problem. They will help you work through any other personal or relationship problems you may be experiencing. I can help you quit pornography for good, book a face to face therapy session or online therapy session here.

Spend time enjoying hobbies & interests.

Many porn addicts describe being sexually preoccupied and as a result begin to sexualise the world around them including people, places and situations. Being in a preoccupied state is a common characteristic of many addicts. Enjoying hobbies, interests and activities on a daily basis will help to reduce sexual preoccupation and the desire to act out by keeping your mind busy and active. When you are feeling a possible slip or relapse coming on, turn to your hobbies and interests for a distraction.

Read a book.

Read a few books in your down time about how pornography can impact and effect your brain, your health and your intimate relationships. There are lots of good books out there about pornography and sexual recovery. You could also consider reading books about changing habits and behaviors, self development books, relationships or biographies about recovery.

Mark your calendar on successful days.

Get yourself a calendar or diary and tick each day you have stuck to your goals of having a porn free day. This is a small simple visual way of staying motivated and focused and acknowledging the commitment you are making. It is also an incentive to help prevent slips and relapses. If you were in any twelve step groups you would be receiving a special coin celebrating your success as time goes by. Its important to do this for yourself if you are not getting the support of a group.

Learn to self-regulate.

Self regulation is a great life skill. It means that when you have a strong feeling, thought or emotion that you acknowledge what you are experiencing and react in a healthy way rather than in a negative way. For example when you are feeling very stressed you can choose to acknowledge the stress and manage it in a healthy way by going for a walk or a run rather than turning to porn, alcohol or something that may have a negative consequence. Self regulation for porn addiction means not acting out in an impulsive or compulsive sexual way but finding a new way to express yourself and cope with your emotions.

Learn more about others giving up pornography.

Check out the website www.fightthenewdrug.org which is an organisation in the USA promoting the positive aspects of living a porn free life. Their website has articles, videos, books, supports and podcasts. Their motto is #PornKillsLove. There are tons of websites dedicated to promoting porn recovery that you might find helpful.

Get software to restrict you going online.

Consider downloading some parental software like Qustodio on your phone and other devices which will help regulate the content that you can view. The purpose of this is to make it more difficult to access porn when you are feeling triggered.

Reduce your risk.

Contact your internet, TV and mobile phone provider and ask them to put a total block on all adult and pornographic content.  These days its not enough to just block your smartphone as most household devices with internet connection will have access to explicit content.

Download an App.

Download an app for overcoming pornography addiction such as The Fortify App on your phone and tablet and use it regularly for a couple of months. The Forify App helps your quit porn for good and is a great way of focusing daily on your goals and understanding more about yourself. It is free to sign up but the premium plan cost about €10 a month and it worth the investment.

Understand your triggers and stressors.

Spend some time thinking about the why’s and when’s of your porn habit. Most porn use can be described as predictive i.e same habits every time. Write out a list of triggers and stressors which lead you to using porn. Then write a list of other things you could do instead that will have a more positive outcome.  Finding ways to reduce or eliminate your stressors is a good preventative strategy. I always get clients to start compiling a list of alternatives to viewing porn, as they move through their recovery this list get longer.

Take it one day at a time.

Take things one day at a time. Try not to focus too far into the future, the present is what is important. Everyday is an opportunity to change and be better.

Keep a diary.

Keeping a diary is a common self-care recovery practice. Your diary can consist of thoughts and feelings about how you are doing, reflections or just simple plans for the week to help keep you focused on your goals.

Cut all ties.

Close any online accounts you might have, end subscriptions, clear browsing history, delete any content you have saved, empty spam folders and delete email accounts if necessary. The purpose of all of these exercises is to totally eliminate any connection to pornography you have created. You may wish to discuss this with your partner first.

A routine for success.

Developing a good daily routine is a positive way of staying strong, motivated and focused particularly if life has become chaotic. Get good sleep, eat healthy, create a good work life balance, have fun, exercise, relax, enjoy life, get out into nature, spend time with friends and family. A good routine is critical to recovery.

Put down the smartphone.

If you access porn on your smartphone then its time to detach from your phone and start using it less, way less. Turn it off early in the evenings, keep it outside of the bedroom at night, don’t bring it into the bathroom or on your lunch break.  Alternatively, opt for non smart phone for a few months until you are confident you have learned to self-moderate

Real emotional connection.

Start spending more time with your loved ones, family and friends. The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is connection. Addiction slowly takes people away from what really matters in life which out then noticing. The more time you spend with others, the less time you have to spend with your addiction.

Avoid common triggers.

Common triggers for acting out which I hear my clients share are often stress, drugs, alcohol, hangovers, stimulants, medication, gambling, relationship discord, opportunity, boredom, availability and a lack of sexual a relationship. Triggers can keep causing slips and relapses. Overcoming pornography will probably mean getting professional help for other problems, trauma, emotional pain or addictions your struggling with.

Listen to podcasts.

Listening to podcasts on iTunes and Spotify about recovery, self development, addiction and areas of interest you might have can be a great learning and a good distraction. You can listen on your way to and from work, driving in the car or out walking. They are a great way to keep yourself motivated.

Get relationship counselling.

Porn addiction directly effects the health of your relationship, sexual intimacy and your partner. Couples therapy with an experienced therapist can help guide you both through a recovery process together and address any problems that have developed in the relationship. Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a holistic approach to creating happy successful long lasting relationships, you can find a list of registered Gottman Couples therapists around the world here.

A holistic approach.

Taking a holistic approach to overcoming your porn problem is the best approach. You can do this by addressing the problem on lots of levels. This means you are not only overcoming porn but also improving your overall quality of life, physically, mentally and emotionally.

The key to success is being focused on feeling fulfilled, healthy and happy with the changes in your life and not on feeling deprived. Keep your recovery process simple. Start where you are, stick with it, it will be worth all your effort.

 

 

Pornography & Sexual Addiction – Signs, Symptoms and Getting Help

Pornography addiction is a form of sexual addiction which is a process or behavioural addiction. Sex addiction is growing and becoming increasingly prevalent and problematic for many people in Ireland. The instantaneous availability of pornography, sexually explicit content, sex workers and online dating and hook up sites online makes sexual addiction more prevalent, in-particular since the introduction of tablets and smartphones.

Habitual, long-term, compulsive and impulsive use of pornography effects people in various ways. For many, pornography use damages healthy relationships, intimacy and mental and emotional health. The characteristics of problematic behaviour and addiction develop over time as individuals struggle to maintain their health and relationships. Pornography is deeply impacting and influencing some of our younger generations understanding and perception of healthy loving sex and sexuality. Ongoing exposure to pornography in a young person or adult can cause unrealistic attitudes and understanding of sex and create anxiety and internal stress regarding relationships and sexual performance. Unhealthy use of pornography can cause sexual dysfunction and intimacy disorders and in some instances leave to illegal behaviours and sexual offending.

Pornography is not automatically problematic. However, it is the association and level of use of pornography and the impact it is having on the individuals life which defines it as healthy or unhealthy. Habitual, impulsive and compulsive use of online pornography can lead to dependence and addiction thus taking the addict further and further away from themselves and others. Getting regular personal addiction counselling and attending Twelve Step Support groups to overcome pornography and sexual addiction are an alternative to residential addiction treatment centers.

Counselling provides individual one to one therapeutic support to individuals who are struggling with problematic, unhealthy or addictive sexual behaviours. The counselling approach is supportive, direct and gently challenging and is often a longer term process. Confidentiality, encouragement and unconditional positive regard are at the core of addiction counselling work. Breaking the cycle of secrecy and shame is the first step towards getting help. Early intervention is vital in breaking the cycle of problematic and unhealthy behaviours which can escalate over time.

Typically, sex with our selves or others starts us off, and just as in other addictions, it dissolves tension, relieves depression, resolves conflicts or provides  the means to cope with difficult life situations or take an action that seemed impossible before’.        (Sexaholics Anonymous, 1989:35)

Other process addictions are associated with food, sex, exercising, gaming and hoarding. Addictions associated with food and sex are considered more complex in that the addict cannot essentially survive without either food or sex as they are basic drives, instinctive and fundamental to life. It is this complexity which makes recovery from such dependencies sometimes more challenging. In addition, sexual addiction often coexists with other addictions or long term issues. Sex addiction is an invisible addiction and often goes unnoticed by partners and family for extensive periods of time. Sex may be identified as sex with self, sex with others or both.

Secrecy, shame, fear and embarrassment often envelope and conceal pornography and sexual addiction as partners and friends are unaware of their loved ones escalating and perpetuating behaviour. In many instances a strong sense of entitlement or reward distorts the addicts thinking process. Availability, accessibility and opportunity to access online sexual content have lead to a significant increase in problematic sexual behaviours and relationship breakdown. In many instances, pornography fuels exploration or preoccupation of other sexual activities both online and off-line. Excessive and prolonged use of pornography, sexual acting out or engaging in sexual relations (physical, non-physical and online) can lead to sexual addiction. Those effected are primarily male and they may or may not be in a relationship. It is recommended that attending personal counselling, support groups and relationship counselling are beneficial to successful long term recovery.

Orlagh addresses the following areas with clients in Pornography Addiction counselling;

  •    Identifying the problem
  •    Types of sexual addictions
  •    Self Assessment
  •    Functions of the Addiction
  •    Emotional, mental and psychological impact
  •    Brief Intervention
  •    Crisis Management in Relationships
  •    Denial & Rationalisation
  •    Triggers & Habits
  •    Stages of recovery
  •    Recovery process
  •    The Therapeutic Process
  •    Effects on Relationships
  •    Shame & Secrecy
  •    Healthy Sexuality
  •    Compulsive Masturbation
  •    Challenges & Resistance
  •    Motivations to Change
  •    Psychosexual Education
  •    Goals and Expectations

Counselling for Partners and Spouses

Personal counselling provides emotional support, understanding and coping mechanisms in a safe and supportive space to men and women effected by their partners sexual behaviour, infidelity or pornography use. Very often it can feel difficult to share with friends or family the private and intimate details of our closest relationship and the effect your partners behaviour or recent disclosure may be having on you personally. Counselling provides a space to explore and express the spectrum of emotions you may be experiencing such as hurt, shock, fear or confusion and how you can deal with your relationship situation going forward. Counselling may be short term brief intervention in times of crisis or disclosure from their partner or longer term personal therapy depending on each clients needs and the level of support they feel necessary at that time.

What is Sexual Addiction

The term ‘Sexual Addiction’ is used to described out-of-control, damaging sexual behaviour. Terms such as ‘sexually compulsive behaviour’ and ‘sexual dependency’ are also used to describe the same problem. As sexual addiction can take so many different forms we often use the plural term “sexual addictions” in our work. The sexual addict may engage in or feel compelled to seek out a variety of sexual behaviour and activities despite the negative consequences this may have on his or her personal life and physical or mental health. Often the addict makes continued failed attempts to stop their behaviour.

Signs of Sexual addiction and pornography addiction

  1. A pattern of out-of-control sexual behaviour;
  2. Severe consequences due to sexual behaviour;
  3. Inability to stop despite adverse consequences;
  4. Persistent pursuit of self-destructive or high-risk behaviour;
  5. Ongoing desire or effort to limit sexual behaviour;
  6. Sexual obsession and fantasy as a primary coping strategy;
  7. Increasing amounts of sexual experience because the current level of activity is no longer sufficient;
  8. Severe mood changes around sexual activity;
  9. Inordinate amounts of time spent in obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual experience;
  10. Neglect of important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of sexual behaviour.
    (P. Carnes, 1991)

Getting help for sexual addiction:

Getting help for a sexual addiction is similar to getting help for any other addiction or personal problem. It starts with a realisation or an acknowledgement that there is a problem which you are struggling to deal. Often this is the result of negative consequences to your behaviour such as a discovery or disclosure. Early prevention or intervention is crucial to ensuring that an addictive behaviour does not develop and escalate. In Ireland, there are a number of ways which someone can get help for a sexual addiction. Below are some suggestions;

  • Attending personal counselling with an addiction counsellor.
  • Speak to your GP about your problem in confidence.
  • Attend group support such as  Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous or Sexaholics Anonymous.
  • Residential treatment centres are available for sexual addictions.
  • Educate yourself through reading book, listening to audiobooks and learning about sex and porn addiction.
  • Engage in regular Relationship amd Couples Counselling.
  • Use online resources for sexual addiction and pornography addiction such as support groups and organisations.
  • Talk to your partner or a close friend about how you are feeling.
  • Do not keep putting off getting help.
  • Set simple absence goals and develop healthy behaviours.
  • Find ways to manage and reduce stress.
  • Complementary health therapies help promote relaxation, self-care and stress management

Twelve Step Support Groups in Ireland for sex addiction:

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA)
Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) 

Orlagh is a Sex Addiction Counsellor at The Centre for Sexual Addictions and a member of ATSAC The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity. She provides private counselling to individuals, partners and couples for pornography addiction and related behaviour. Orlagh’s approach places strong emphasis on sexual health promotion, healthy sexuality, education and awareness. As addiction is mostly a long term problem developed over a long period of time, counselling is best attended for an extended period of time to support the recovery process.

 

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