Recovering from problematic pornography use also referred to as PPU will benefit anyone who feels they have developed a problem with pornography and related concerns and behaviours. You may not realise you have developed a problem over time until you actually try to give it up for a prolonged period of time. So how do you start pornography recovery when it becomes a problem?
Being able to stop is easy, being able to remain stopped and maintain distance from the behaviour is the challenge. Set yourself clear goals to stop using content for 30, 60 or 90 days at a time and not just a few days at a time to identify if you have signs of problem use. During this abstinence time, you will begin to develop new healthy habits, behaviours and patterns without porn while at the same time working through urges and discomfort as you withdraw from the habit.
‘Pornography recovery is a process. This means it takes time to understand what is happening, how the problem developed, and what was at the root of the problem.‘
In fact, recommitting to stop is a stage in the cycle of addiction. If you find yourself over and over again recommitting to stop, you probably have developed some degree of a problem with porn. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to get a handle on it to stop it progressing so that it is not controlling you.
If you are a habitual online porn consumer, binger or self-confessed porn addict, it is a good idea to know the signs of problem use to keep yourself healthy, safe and in control. The exact same as if you are a gambler or gamer. Your well-being is important and problem porn use can creep in slowly over time without you noticing. Take a read of these 25 signs you may have a problem with porn to help you begin to identify problem use, know your limits and stop when the fun stops.
Do women have problems with pornography? Yes! Women can develop problems and unhealthy relationships with online porn too and sexual compulsivity, it is not just men as you may think. There has been much research over the past fifteen years about the impact of online pornography use on human behaviour and sexual well-being. The research also tells us, that the earlier people are exposed to porn, the more prevalent PPU is in adult life, some times it leads to the development of harmful sexual behaviour (HSB).
Since the smartphone came on the market over twenty years ago, there has been an increase in many different types of internet-associated problems. Pornography problems are just one of them and because it is associated with sexual behaviour which feels awkward and private, it can feel harder to talk about. Let’s face it, not many people want to discuss their porn use. But, don’t let that hold you back from getting help from a professional who works with porn-related issues as their career.
I have been supporting men and women through sexual recovery and pornography recovery for over ten years. Once you take that first big step and start to talk about the problem, big or small, you will begin to feel more in control and confident about the next steps to take. I can help you understand how to navigate the best way forward, find out more here.
‘The first step is to make a decision to understand your relationship with online pornography content and the sexual behaviours and masturbation rituals that are associated with it.’
How do I start pornography recovery?
The first step is to make a decision to understand your relationship with online pornography content and the sexual behaviours and masturbation rituals that are associated with it. This means developing an awareness of the how, why, when, what and how often of the behaviours including all the triggers and thoughts associated with your pornography use.
This is the thing, both viewing porn content and masturbation are mood-elevating and mood-altering behaviours – a biological high. This is what makes the habit form, it is a reward-seeking and soothing behaviour. Also, think about all the other types of issues or problems you may also be facing right now that are causing you to want to mood alter. These can be related and unrelated to the porn use. You might be surprised by what you are actually managing and trying to cope with right now.
Take plenty of time out to sit down and write out the impact of the problem on you, why you want to stop, when you use the content and what you have told yourself about your porn use. Generalising, normalising, rationalising and minimising your porn use are all common addict mindset traits.
Availability, accessibility and opportunity are often key factors when it comes to developing problem porn use and porn addiction. Since the age of the smartphone, we are all walking around with porn in our pockets and the problem has been on the rise. It is estimated that between 3% and 4% of regular habitual porn consumers develop mild, moderate and even severe problems.
Over the years, smartphones and instant internet access have caused increasing problems with not just pornography but also similar process behaviours such as gaming, shopping, gambling, and internet addiction which are also mood-altering. Research also tells us that some people are more predisposed to being impulsive and compulsive, struggle to manage and tolerate stress or have addictive personality traits. Do any of these sound like you?
Similar to other developing addictions, there is a sliding scale of consequences and impact of the person and those around them. There will be an impact on mental health, well-being, physical health, overall happiness, relationships, self-esteem, and possibly anxiety, depression and moodiness. One of the challenges is that when you are caught up in a problem, you can not see clearly all the ways it is negatively impacting you. This is why it is important to get outside support and help so that you can see more clearly what you need to see. There are many elements of sexual recovery that are life-changing for the better.
Recovery in simple terms means restoring health and wellbeing. Pornography recovery means restoring sexual health and total wellbeing and living a life that does not revolve around porn or even include porn. For some this means to be 100% free from porn every day, to be abstinence, and no longer feel compelled to use it in any way going forward. For others, it may mean to fully understand the impact of porn on their life, take back control and develop better boundaries and impulse control. It also means to fully understand what it means to be sexually healthy and have a healthy relationship with both yourself and others. Take a read of my Day One recovery series blog to learn more about recovery well-being and how it can change your life for the better.
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Pornography recovery is a process. This means it takes time to understand what is happening, how the problem developed, and what was at the root of the problem. Often, in my experience, people have experienced different types of life challenges, trauma, adverse childhood experiences (ACE), attachment issues or pornography and masturbation becomes a form of self-soothing. Getting to the root of other issues is a part of the recovery process once abstinence has been developed. In order to be able to move forward, everyone needs to understand how to move forward learn recovery skills and tools and essentially know themselves better. This is called developing emotional intelligence.
These days, there are lots of excellent apps and tools that you can use to start pornography recovery. It is always a good idea to seek out the help and support of an addiction counsellor to help you start the process of change. They can help you make progress much faster than trying to work it out yourself and give you resources and guides and information that will help you. Take a read of preparing for your first addiction counselling session to get you into the seeking help state of mind.
Pornography recovery means restoring sexual health and total wellbeing and living a life that does not revolve around porn or even include porn.
Trying to stop on your own is not a good way forward when you have tried alone many times before! You may be stuck in a cycle and need help managing stress, and triggers and starting a recovery process. Start educating and informing yourself about the impact of pornography use on the brain, sexual wellness, relationship health and all the other ways it impacts adults.
Education and self-awareness are key to resolving any problem and strong recovery! Problem pornographic use is described as a process or behaviour problem or addiction. It can have very similar characteristics to gaming and gambling addiction. It does have an added complexity because problem pornography users often have developed compulsive sexual behaviours or compulsive sexual behaviour disorders (CSBD).
Whatever you are going through right now, get some help, develop an awareness of the problem, and learn about sexual and pornography recovery if you have developed a problem, or think you have developed a problem. Find out more about booking an online therapy session and check-in online to my private online practice.
Often shame and secrecy are a big challenge to overcome in the early days. Problem pornography use is not unusual these days and more and more people are talking about it. Many people are opening up about their relationship with pornography and how to have a healthier or better relationship with it so that it does not hold them back in life. If this sounds like you, get in touch and let’s start talking about your relationship with pornography.