What Can I Do?
When a person who has an addiction to pornography wants to stop their pornography use, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Many people expect too much of themselves. They do not often realize how powerful the cycle of addiction is or how profoundly addiction alters the brain and body and their ability to become sexually aroused. This sometimes leads the person to fail at their attempts to stop their use of pornography, affecting their self-esteem and hope for a healthy sex life. What these people often do not understand is that their way of thinking can sometimes doom them to fail before they even begin. Knowing what strategies for stopping pornography use work and which ones do not is key in learning to overcome addiction. Being able to recognize the traps that addiction sometimes sets for the person trying to quit is also crucial for the person trying to stop their pornography use.
Seeking help from other people is typically the first step to recovering from an addiction. Although the person with a pornography addiction may feel ashamed of their addiction and their overuse of pornography, it is rare that a person can overcome an addiction all alone. Talking with a trusted person not only allows them to understand what has been happening in the addicted person's life, it makes the addicted person accountable to someone other than himself. Social accountability motivates people to live up to expectations of them. People usually do not want to let down the people closest to them. The people the addict chooses to talk to about their problem may include a spouse or significant other or a close friend.
Seeking professional counseling is always a good step. Professional counselors who specialize in addiction or sex therapy are formally trained and usually have experience in helping their patients cope with addiction. They can help an addicted person form strategies for quitting and help them deal with the withdrawal symptoms that will usually appear. Even if there is a trusted person in the addict's life that she can seek help from, adding a therapist or counselor to her support network is almost always beneficial, since they can remain impartial and must keep all information about you and your addiction confidential.
Therapists and counselors also usually have training in handling the emotional issues that are related to addiction and overuse of pornography. This is where they may be particularly helpful, since identifying and working through emotional issues is often one of the most valuable things a person can do when they are trying to curb their addictions. A therapist may ask questions about the pornography addicted person and their childhood, their current lifestyle and what types of situations cause the person to feel stressed or anxious. By figuring out what causes the person to have emotional reactions, it makes it easier for them to recognize potential triggers. Triggers are situations or feelings that cause the addicted person to have a craving. The therapist may also give suggestions for how to cope with these situations, or even help the addicted person form a plan to remove these factors from their life it is possible to do so.
A counselor may also refer the addicted person to a support group if the person feels they do not have any supportive people in their life. The idea of attending a support group may make the addicted person nervous, since it is a meeting full of strangers where the addicted person will be expected to share something about themselves that they desperately want to keep a secret. However, support groups generally have a rule that everyone remain anonymous and that everything shared in the group be kept a secret. Most therapists who recommend a support group encourage addicts to attend at least one meeting just to see how things work and whether it is a good fit for them. Many people are surprised to find that the support group is actually helpful, since meeting and talking to other people experiencing a similar problem gives the addicted person a new perspective on their problem. The shared experiences of many different people with the same problems can be a relief and gives the addicted person access to people who can give advice and support when they run into a problem or who feel they are on the verge of relapsing.
Asking a friend or loved one for help in getting rid of all the pornography that the addicted person owns is another step that may make the addict nervous. They may be afraid of showing their loved one just how bad their problem is. Some pornography addicts have entire computer hard drives full of pornography that they will have to get rid of, or an extensive stash of magazines, DVDs or video tapes. The fear of being exposed in such a way sometimes compounds with the fear of finally getting rid of all of their pornography. The addicted person may feel like it is too much to do at once, but often when a person tries to gradually get rid of their pornography, they may never fully rid themselves of their stash. It is important to get rid of absolutely everything.
The person may also need to ask their loved one to install a web filter on their computer and to set a password for them. The availability of free pornography on the Internet means that getting rid of the addict's stash is not enough, since they can almost instantly find more pornography if their cravings become too intense. The addicted person may be afraid to ask their loved one to do this for them, since they often feel it further demonstrates their weakness. Admitting it to their loved one also means they have to admit it to themselves.
Overcoming addiction is always a difficult process that involves a lot of feelings of fear and vulnerability. Even when the person is addicted to something other than a substance, the way that their brain and body has been altered to respond to the addictive stimulus leaves them unable to break the cycle of addiction easily. Seeking counseling and help from friends and loved ones is the most important thing a person can do in trying to overcome their addiction. Even though this may seem like one of the most difficult things the addicted person will ever have to do, it is a valuable part of recovery that greatly increases their ability to quit pornography for good.