Many recovering sex addicts find it almost impossible to quit internet pornography once and for all.  Internet porn is different from other sexual acting out behaviors; it hooks people faster and can have a powerful hold that leads to frequent relapses even if other, more “serious” behaviors have been relinquished.

If you are addicted to sexual massage parlors or to serial affairs then you need to do at least some minimal planning. This allows for mindfulness strategies and other tools to help abort the behavior.

Sexual imagery is everywhere, sometimes flashing on the computer screen unexpectedly. I had a patient who stumbled on a friend’s sexy valentine video on Facebook and went into a relapse.  “Blocking” software is unreliable, and getting rid of your computers is not the ideal solution in the long run.

The major risk factors for chronic internet porn relapse

The underlying issues of porn addiction are the same as with any other addiction.  As with other sex addicts, internet porn addicts associate intimacy with pain, tend to be emotionally insecure and isolated, and avoid reaching out to other people.

But even when working with other recovery strategies, I believe there are particular serious risk factors in porn addiction that often go untreated and unaddressed. These are:

  • Living a minimal life
  • Falling into a daily routine that promotes porn use
  • Have given up on a real and lasting intimate and sexual relationship

Preventing Relapse Requires New Behaviors

After you’ve been in recovery from sex addiction, you may still need to make some very major changes in your life in order to combat  the lure of porn.

Plan a full life

If you live a life of deprivation, if you’re willing to live in messy surroundings, willing to be an underachiever or under-earner, then you need to make a longer term plan for how you’re going to turn your life into one of success and meaning.

This takes a willingness to visualize yourself succeeding.  I don’t mean in fantasy, like winning the lottery or having someone swoop down and transform your life.  I mean the kind that takes goal-setting and struggle, knocking on doors, getting better jobs.  Don’t let unpaid activities get in the way.  At least for now, make achieving your life goals your main recovery activity.

Get out of your daily routine

For porn addicts, the problem often has a lot to do with being in a rut.  Usually this takes the form of a daily routine which predictably ends up at the computer in front of a porn site.  There are many kinds of ruts, but the one I think of as the prototype is that of the person whose social life consists of hanging around Starbucks and looking at attractive women he can’t have.  This is followed by going home to a lonely night and using internet pornography.

Whatever the rut you’re in, it probably leads to a “victim” feeling of being unable to get your needs met, which makes you turn to porn use.  I am utterly convinced that in order to quit porn, most die hard addicts need to radically change their routine, and continue to vary it.

Reclaim the idea of a good relationship

This is probably the most important change a porn addict can make.  Most sex addicts have little experience with what a healthy intimate relationship looks like. In recovery, they get better at intimacy and relationship skills by making new choices and practicing new behavior.

However, many porn addicts seem to have unconsciously or consciously given up on the whole idea of having a fully engaged intimate relationship.  They feel it’s too difficult, or that it’s impossible to find the “right person.”

What you must do in this situation is imagine a realistic picture of what a good relationship would be for you.  This means that it includes a good sex life, so you have to imagine that too.  Realistically.

Making a different kind of life

You’ll know you are out of the woods with porn when you’re making energetic changes in your life and in your way of thinking.  New behavior is your friend.  Be patient with yourself, but be dogged about making changes and doing things differently.  Above all catch yourself lapsing into old ways of thinking.

 


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    Last reviewed: 24 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Hatch, L. (2012). Frequent Porn Addiction Relapse: 3 Tough Things You Must Do. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 2, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2012/09/frequent-porn-addiction-relapse-3-tough-things-you-must-do/

 




Check Out Linda Hatch's books,
Relationships in Recovery & Living with a Sex Addict.


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