Breaking the Cycle of Porn Addiction
Based in part on the book “Breaking the Cycle” by George Collins
~ Explore how porn addiction can be a cycle
~ Explore how porn (like video games) can be addictive
~ Explore technological interventions to help pornography addicts
~ Identify critical treatment Issues for porn addiction
Similarities Between Porn and Gaming
~ Available anywhere/anytime
~ Never ending excitement
~ New stuff constantly added
~ No particular end
~ Increases dopamine and norepinephrine
~ May (falsely) provide the feeling of social connection
~ Easy to minimize porn as a harmless online activity
~ Some sites have monthly fees which encourage more use to “get your money’s worth.”
~ Recognizing Porn (or Sex) Addiction (Compulsion)
~ You cannot get enough
~ You spend more time thinking about, engaging in and recovering from the behavior than intended
~ You give up important social, recreational activities to engage in the behavior
~ It causes problems in one or more areas of your life, but you continue to do it: emotional, social, occupational, legal
~ You have been unsuccessful at trying to quit
Who Becomes a Porn Addict
~ Anybody who…
~ Had a troubled childhood and found masturbation as an effective means of self-soothing
~ Was exposed to sexually explicit material at an early age
~ Has difficulty in real-life relationships
~ Is depressed, stressed or having difficulty sleeping
~ So…anybody is vulnerable
The Cycle of Porn
~ Porn addiction is really about the neurochemical reactions from looking at porn (excitement/tension building) and masturbation (release/reward)
~ When people encounter distressing situations (or boredom) they may masturbate.
~ This produces a sensation of calming and/or pleasure that
~ The person wants to experience again
~ The person remembers the next time a distressing situation arises
Step 1: Identifying the Triggers
~ Triggers are people, places, things, feelings and events that prompt a person to want to escape
~ What emotions trigger you to want to view porn?
~ What thoughts or self-talk?
~ What people?
~ What situations or times of day?
Step 2: Address Euphoric Recall
~ Make a list of the unpleasant effects
~ Emotional (Shame, guilt, anger, anxiety, depression…)
~ Cognitive (Obsessions, lack of concentration…)
~ Interpersonal (Inability to get aroused IRL, changed sexual preferences and expectations, difficulty not objectifying, paying less attention to kids, less desire to interact with other people…)
~ Occupational (losing time at work, late for work, poor work performance)
~ Legal (divorce, child custody, criminal charges, bankruptcy (webcam viewers)
Step 3: Pair the Porn
~ Pairing the situations in which you want to use porn with something competing.
~ Put a picture of your kids or a religious symbol next to your computer and on your desktop/home screen
Step 4: Lock It Down
~ Firewalls to block adult content that you don’t have the password to
~ Nanny apps (like Bark) that notify someone if you go to an adult site
Step 5: Reboot
~ When the brain is regularly flooded with dopamine and excitatory neurochemicals it becomes less sensitive.
~ Things that used to make you happy don’t have the same effect.
~ You may also start feeling depressed, have difficulty concentrating and lack energy.
~ Removing all pornography from the equation is most helpful.
~ Restricting sexual activity to only that between you and a consenting partner is also helpful.
~ Initially you may experience anxiety and/or depression as well as sexual craving since the brain is depending on regular doses of feel-good chemicals and porn has been a staple coping strategy
~ As the brain recovers your obsessions about porn and compulsive behaviors will start to remit
~ Unhook from their thoughts
~ Instead of saying “I am a failure” say “I am having the thought that I am a failure.”
~ Instead of saying “I can’t wait to get home to look at porn/masturbate” say “I am having the thought that…”
~ Address the underlying issues
~ Low self-esteem (INSO)
~ Feeling isolated / social anxiety / lack of intimacy
~ What is causing them? (Take your personal history)
~ What makes them worse? Better?
~ What was different when you didn’t have this problem?
~ What steps do you need to take to deal with the problem?
~ Develop alternate, positive behaviors to engage in when you are feeling triggered
~ Mow the lawn
~ Go to the gym / Do pushups / Wall sits
~ Take a cold shower / Hold an ice cube
~ Listen to loud music
~ Find something opposite to watch on TV
~ Review your drawbacks list
~ Get support
~ Develop an affirmation statement
~ George Collins’ book “Breaking the Cycle” is available at New Harbinger Publications and has dozens of activities to help people step through this process.
~ Save 25% at AllCEUs.com/Collins and use promocode 1168SNIPES at checkout
~ Pornography floods people’s brains with “feel-good” chemicals
~ People often use porn and masturbation to self-soothe when they are experiencing distress.
~ When people are experiencing a lot of distress for some reason, they use porn/masturbation more.
~ When the brain adapts to frequent “doses”, it begins to expect them, which can cause people to feel “horny” all the time
~ This feeling prompts compulsive sexual behavior—the porn cycle
~ Regular pornography use has negative effects on emotions, concentration, relationships, work product and sometimes legal status and finances.
~ Breaking the cycle involves
~ “Detoxing” from porn to let the brain recover
~ Identifying the triggers for use and what underlying issues caused them
~ Addressing those issues