What Does Porn Addiction Recovery Look Like?

Dr R. Y. Langham

Jan 21, 2022

Porn addiction is paralyzing. It is so powerful and incapacitating that it can ruin healthy relationships, self-esteem, careers, families, friendships, social interactions, sex lives, and/or even one’s physical and mental health. It is important to understand that your experience with porn may be nothing like someone else’s experience with it.

However, the effects of “excessive porn use” may include attachment issues, troublesome or unhealthy relationships, lost friendships, self-doubt, shame and guilt, social withdrawal or isolation, and/or delayed emotional development. The good news is licensed porn addiction recovery therapists can provide you with the tools and resources you need to reclaim your health and vitality and improve your relationships and friendships.

It is common for porn addicts to feel as if they have lost all control over their lives, leading some to seek porn addiction recovery treatment. These individuals tend to be attracted to recovery programs because they offer customized services geared at providing support and resources for them and their loved ones, who are grappling with their own issues (i.e., shame, guilt, trauma, and/or feelings of betrayal) as a result of their “porn habit.”

In fact, one of the objectives of porn addiction recovery programs is to help addicts reconnect with the people who love them the most! Keep in mind, however, that most porn addiction recovery therapists have devoted much of their careers to developing effective recovery programs designed to help you “quit” porn and get your life back on track.

The good news is that recovery is possible for people, like you, who want to be “free” of their porn addictions. So, if you want to find peace, improve your health and well-being, and rebuild your relationships and friendships, you may want to seek porn addiction help. Therefore, a porn addiction recovery program can provide you with an individualized treatment plan created to help you achieve (and maintain) “porn addiction sobriety” for the long haul!

What Causes People to Become Addicted to Porn?

A person can become addicted to porn for a variety of reasons.

Understand that the exact cause of porn addiction largely depends on the individual. However, the following factors – i.e., body chemistry, genetics, past trauma, boredom, stress, dysfunctional family dynamics, unhappiness, mental illness, unhealthy relationships, unsupportive friends, substance abuse, etc. – can contribute to porn addiction.

It is easier to understand the signs and symptoms, possible causes, and effects of substance abuse, however, it is often harder to grasp the full effects of “excessive porn use” or porn addiction. Indeed, it can be quite challenging for people, porn addicts, and non-porn addicts alike, to fully recognize the true impact that porn can have on adolescents and adults.

The truth is porn addiction is even more powerful and addictive than drugs and alcohol, primarily because porn addiction stems from internal factors (i.e., mental stimulation or excitement caused by sexually-explicit images), while drug and alcohol addictions stem from external factors (i.e., chemically-ingested “substances”). So, while you can stop ingesting “chemical substances” (with porn addiction support), it is more difficult to stop thinking about or obsessing over something (i.e., porn). Thereby, the only way to successfully achieve porn addiction recovery is to seek porn addiction help for it.

Why is porn so influential? Well, mainly because sex is linked to increased dopamine production. Dopamine is the hormone/neurotransmitter responsible for motivation, happiness, pleasure, and “rewards.” In fact, studies suggest that sex (or the anticipation of sex) can trigger a dopamine rush (in some people), triggering relief, euphoria, and/or intense pleasure. Researchers have also found that “porn use” can trigger the same bodily sensations as having real sex.

In other words, porn, like sex, can trigger a person’s “reward system,” causing him or her to keep returning to it because of the feelings associated with it. However, just like with any other addiction, eventually more and more of the “stimulus” (i.e., porn) may be required to get the desired effects. So, when a person develops a “tolerance” to porn, he or she is usually only left with three choices – (1) increase the frequency of the “porn use,” (2) turn to more extreme porn, or (3) quit porn altogether – something many addicts do not want to do because it requires porn addiction treatment.

Note: There has been some debate as to if porn addiction is linked to “changes” in the brain (similar to the ones found in other addictions). Proponents believe that “excessive porn use” alters how neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) function in the brain. While critics assert that there is no credible evidence linking porn addiction to “changes” in brain chemistry or activity. So, although some studies suggest a link between “porn use” and “changes” in the brain, others dismiss this theory.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Porn Addiction?

Although this does not happen to every person, there is always a possibility that you will experience long-term effects as a result of your porn addiction. In fact, three main areas of your life could be negatively impacted by your “porn habit” in the future – your romantic relationships, sex life, and brain chemistry and function. Keep in mind, however, that the effects of porn addiction vary from person to person, so some people may experience long-term challenges in other areas.

Listed below are the long-term effects of porn addiction:

  • Romantic Relationships

    Porn addiction can affect almost every aspect of a person’s life; however, it can be especially damaging to romantic relationships. In fact, it is common for porn addicts to lie to their partners about their “porn use” – i.e., the frequency and severity of it. This typically occurs when a person suspects or discovers that his or her partner has a serious “porn habit.”

  • Sex Life

    There is no doubt that porn addiction can wreak havoc on your sex life. More specifically, “excessive porn use” can lead to intimacy issues in the bedroom. The truth is when you spend most of your time secretly watching and/or masturbating to porn, rather than being intimate with your real-life partner, your sex life is bound to suffer.

    In fact, researchers have found that people, who excessively view porn, are more likely to experience sexual dissatisfaction, primarily because they have become reliant on images of sexual fantasies and/or extreme sex to boost their libido and trigger sexual arousal.

    But, even if porn has not caused problems in your romantic relationship – yet, eventually your “activities” will catch up with you. And, when that happens, it could cause your partner to develop low self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-doubt in himself or herself and in your relationship. The result? A broken heart and a failed relationship.

  • Brain Chemistry & Function

    As mentioned above, some studies suggest that “chronic porn use” can “change” your brain chemistry and function. More specifically, it can alter how neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) function in your brain. What does that mean? It means that there is a good chance that your brain will eventually come to rely on the sensations (i.e., pleasure, ecstasy, sexual arousal, “release and relief,” excitement, etc.) porn elicits in your body.

    When this occurs, more “porn use” or more “extreme porn use” is required to get the same effects. This also means that your ability to become aroused and experience sexual satisfaction by your real-life partner severely diminishes. As a result, the only way you can become sexually aroused and experience “sexual release” is to watch porn.

What Does Porn Addiction Recovery Involve?

Porn addiction recovery programs not only help addicts, who are struggling to quit porn, but also people, who have experienced betrayal and trauma from their loved one’s “porn use.” These programs provide addicts and their loved ones with porn addiction support so both parties can heal. Thus, porn addiction recovery involves fully committing to the treatment process.

Porn addiction recovery also involves admitting that you have a problem with porn, attending porn addiction support groups, completing tasks and homework assignments, being completely open and honest with loved ones – even if it’s difficult, being willing to learn from previous mistakes, and making the necessary changes to become and remain “porn-free.”

Listed below are some elements of porn addiction recovery:

  • In-Person or Online Group Meetings

    The main component of porn addiction recovery involves attending in-person or online porn addiction support group meetings. The truth is it is a lot easier to “recover” from porn addiction when you have support. The good news is porn addiction recovery group programs can provide porn addiction support for you and/or your loved ones, through in-person or online group meetings. These meetings provide you with opportunities to connect with other recovering porn addicts, who can offer you valuable porn recovery tips and suggestions.

    Keep in mind that in-person group meetings are always preferred, however, in the wake of COVID and social distancing, online meetings have increased in availability and popularity. In fact, more and more in-person group meetings are moving online to protect the health and safety of their members. So, although in-person group sessions are highly recommended; some programs also offer online sessions.

    Another benefit? Group meetings provide you with a “safe space” to meet and talk with therapists, porn addiction specialists, and other recovering porn addicts. And, in some cases, loved ones and close friends are allowed to attend, as well. Thus, porn addiction supports groups are not only confidential and supportive but also highly ideal for holding addicts accountable for their behaviors (i.e., porn-watching).

    Note: Group meetings are usually limited to 10 or fewer attendees to promote safety and security, confidentiality, trust, honest communication, and sharing.

  • Online Workbooks, Educational Articles & Video Classes

    While in a porn addiction program, you may also gain unlimited access to workbooks, articles, and/or videos. The goal of these resources is to aid in your porn addiction recovery. Some porn addiction programs allow you to select workbooks, articles, and videos from an extensive online library, where you can access them whenever you want. Therefore, these tools provide you with a broad range of exercises to help you become and stay “porn-free.”

  • Homework Assignments & Tasks

    While attending a porn addiction recovery program, you will most likely be asked to complete tasks and homework assignments. The goal of these activities is to help you develop “healthy habits,” so you don’t feel the need to return to porn (“bad habits”) when you become stressed, overwhelmed, or bored.

    Thus, every aspect of a porn addiction recovery program is to prepare you for “life outside of porn.” In other words, it is designed to help you maintain your “porn sobriety” even after your porn addiction recovery program has ended. Porn addiction recovery experts believe that if you have “healthy tools” (i.e., anti-porn tools, support, treatment, and “good habits”) in your “toolbox,” you will be better equipped to handle any challenges that come your way healthily and positively.

What Does Porn Addiction Recovery Actually Look Like?

Porn addiction recovery can look different for each addict. However, healing from porn addiction can take time, effort, awareness, and persistence. It is a process that can take many months, years or a lifetime. Understand that porn addiction does not simply go away once you stop “using,” which means that a relapse is always possible. So, to fully heal from your porn addiction, you may have to go through the porn addiction recovery process more than once. However, if you commit to the recovery process and believe in yourself, you can and will win your war against porn.

Listed below are the six stages of the porn addiction recovery process:

  • The Denial Stage

    The denial stage occurs before you realize (or can admit) that you have a real problem with porn. While some people only stay in this stage for a couple of weeks or months, others may stay in it for years or decades. Keep in mind, however, that some people never admit they are dependent on porn.

    Note: The recovery process officially begins once you acknowledge that porn has taken over your life.

  • The “Rock Bottom” Stage

    This “rock bottom” stage can last anywhere from one day to three months. Once you move past the first stage of denial, you will be more inclined to seek treatment – however, this desire to “change” may not occur immediately.

    Note: People, who have experienced a crisis or “hit rock bottom,” (i.e., a breakup, divorce, job loss, or the removal of children) are typically the first ones to seek porn addiction help. Ultimately, this stage occurs once you decide (because it has to be YOUR choice) that porn simply is not working for you anymore.

  • The Shock Stage

    For many, the shock stage” is the most challenging one in the porn addiction recovery process because it involves “detoxing” or from porn (porn addiction withdrawal symptoms). This stage can last anywhere from one-and-eight months. During this stage, you may experience a wide range of emotions, such as numbness, disbelief, confusion, disorientation, inattention, and/or anger.

    You may also feel as if you no longer belong in your family, relationship, or friend circle. These are normal emotions and reactions. So, think of porn addiction recovery as a marathon – not a sprint. Keep in mind that you may experience fluctuating feelings for a while before you are ready to move to the next stage of the recovery process.

    Note: Understand that you may experience feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and despair once reality sets in and you become more aware of the toll that porn has taken on your life – i.e., your job, relationship, self-esteem, wallet, etc.

  • The “Heartbreak” Stage

    The “heartbreak” stage involves grief. This stage may last six months or more. During this stage, you start to realize how much pain your “porn habit” has caused you and your loved ones. Also, during this stage, you begin to delve into the origin of your porn addiction.

    Note: This stage can be extremely emotional and wrought with grief and trauma from previously repressed experiences.

  • The Rehabilitation Stage

    During the rehabilitation stage, internal and external repairs are made. This stage can last anywhere from 18-to-36 months. During this stage, you learn how to practice self-care, while healing from porn addiction. You also develop “healthier habits” and behaviors, so you do not feel the need to return to former “bad habits” (i.e., porn-watching). This is where the real work begins and the new and improved you begin to form.

  • The Growth and Development Stage

    The final stage in the porn addiction recovery process is the growth and development stage. This stage can last well over twenty-four months. This stage is incredibly important because it marks the beginning of your “porn-free” life. During this time, you grow and develop into the person you are meant to be – a person not tethered to porn.

    This is when you learn the most about yourself. It is also when you start the lengthy process of rebuilding broken friendships and relationships. Thus, the growth and development stage can help you develop a newfound appreciation for life, love, and happiness – things that were lost during your “porn stage.”

Can a Porn Addiction Program Help “Recover” From My “Porn Habit?”

Absolutely!

Porn addiction recovery therapists help you “recover” your self-esteem and self-confidence, so you can successfully return to your “pre-porn self” and rebuild damaged friendships and relationships. The goal of porn addiction specialists is to help you “reboot” your brain – so you can successfully cure your “porn habit.” So, if you are looking for a way to regain control over your life, find peace, and mend “broken fences,” porn addiction treatment is the way to go!

Understand, however, that a porn addiction may spark additional sexual addictions, such as exploitative sex, voyeuristic sex, exhibitionist sex, sadomasochism (fetishes), paid sex (sex for trade), etc. Thus, the aim of porn addiction recovery programs is to teach sex addicts (including porn addicts) how to develop and practice “healthy habits.” Porn addiction recovery therapists use a variety of techniques, tools, and approaches (i.e., individual therapy, family therapy, couples or marriage therapy, porn addiction therapy, etc.) to accomplish this objective.

Moreover, some porn addiction therapists offer support and invaluable resources to loved ones, who have been hurt or traumatized by your “porn use.” Keep in mind that it is common for a person to feel betrayed after discovering a loved one’s porn addiction. This is especially true when the “injured party” is a romantic partner. Understand that your partner’s emotions are real, valid. Thus, the goal of porn addiction recovery programs is to help you better understand how your addiction has affected your life, friends, and loved ones – with the hope that this knowledge will push you to stop using porn.

Are There Any Tools That Can Help Me Successfully Recover from My Porn Addiction?

Yes!

One such tool is Stop Together. Stop Together is a convenient and affordable online porn addiction recovery program that uses therapy, along with informative audio sessions and interactive exercises, to help you quit your “porn habit” for good! The best thing about this recovery program is that it was developed using the “best practices” from medical experts. Another plus? It only costs $49.99.

So, for less than $100 you get a lifetime of valuable and effective tools and resources. Thus, Stop Together can provide you with the “tools” needed to successfully “beat” your porn addiction. With the help of Stop Together, you will regain your health and recoup your porn-related losses. You don’t have to fight porn addiction alone – not when you have Stop Together on your side!