Life Style

Porn Addiction Relapse

Relapse is, sadly, a common part of the recovery process. While disappointing, it doesn’t mark the end of your journey. Your best defense against relapse is a strong offense. Preparing yourself with the right tools and resources both during and after you undergo rehabilitation can reduce your risk of relapse. As important as preventing relapse is, your reaction to falling off the wagon is equally important.

Words like “relapse” and “addiction” are often used to describe substance abuse, but what many people don’t realize is that behavioral addictions, like porn addiction, come with their own set of challenges — including relapse.

Here we’ll discuss porn addiction relapse including why it happens, how to prevent it, and ways to overcome it.

What Does Porn Addiction Recovery Look Like?

No two addicts’ recovery journeys look the same. Countless factors play a role from the type of addiction, to how long the individual has been addicted, and what resources are available. Drug and alcohol addictions come with their own set of hurdles including physical dependency and deteriorating health.

Behavioral addictions like those to porn and sex look different but are equally as dangerous. Porn addiction is classified as an obsessive compulsion to consume pornographic content. Addicts become emotionally dependent on porn despite the negative effects it has on their lives, including the inability to perform normal responsibilities, compromised personal relationships, and financial hardships. 

Many behavioral addictions, including those to pornography and other explicit materials, are often treated using cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. This form of therapy is designed to challenge and change thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Over time, CBT can strengthen emotional regulation and give addicts stronger personal coping skills to help address current issues, including porn addiction. 

Many online therapy and treatment programs utilize CTB alongside ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) to alter a porn addict’s thoughts about sex, porn, and themselves. As with many other addictions, there’s usually an underlying cause for why someone relies on pornographic material for not only sexual pleasure but emotional stability and stress relief. In addition to therapies, porn addiction recovery may also utilize detox, trigger journals, and other stimuli to retrain the addict’s brain and restore normalcy in their lives. 

Why Does Porn Addiction Relapse Happen?

Porn addiction recovery, like other forms of addiction recovery, is a lifelong battle. Despite being “clean” for weeks, months, or even years, it only takes a single moment of weakness to relapse back into old, unhealthy habits. Sadly, even one misstep is considered a relapse. That means clicking on one explicit advertisement, visiting a strip club with friends, or scrolling through nude photos on the internet are all considered regression for porn addicts.

So, why does porn addiction relapse happen? 

There’s no one reason. For some addicts, the temptation becomes too great, while for others, they can’t find an alternate release for their stress. Men who suffer from ED may need porn to get sexually aroused and therefore, use it as a means of sexual stimulation. Porn means something different for every addict. Understanding your triggers and preparing yourself for temptation are two ways to prevent porn addiction relapse.

Some therapy programs actually encourage porn addicts to test themselves during the recovery process. That means intentionally facing a temptation and urge and gauging their reaction to it. More than a test of their willpower, acknowledging the urge to watch pornography robs it of its power. The more you try to ignore or stifle your desires, the stronger they become. Instead, addicts practice facing temptation, acknowledging it, and letting it go without succumbing. Doing this repeatedly during the recovery process can better prepare addicts for life after recovery.

Preventing Porn Addiction Relapse

Every addict is just one moment away from relapse. Years of hard work and commitment can instantly be wiped clean by a single moment of weakness. This is a scary thought for an addict but it’s important not to let it consume you. Similar to giving your temptations power by ignoring them, obsessing over the risk of relapse will only make it more likely to happen.

One way to help reduce your risk of relapse is to stay connected with those who helped you recover initially. Whether it’s a support group, counselor, or even friend, make sure those positive influences remain present in your life. Create a positive vision for the future of what your life is like without porn. You likely feel healthier, more clear headed, and in control. Remind yourself of what living with a porn addiction was like. Chances are, it was lonely and stressful.

Speaking of stress, many addicts rely on porn as a form of stress relief. It’s no surprise since science proves having an orgasm elicits feelings of happiness and relaxation. Unfortunately, these feelings are quickly replaced by shame and guilt for many porn addicts. It’s time to find a new, healthier way to relieve stress. Yoga, meditation, and exercise are just a few stress-reducing practices that also provide mental clarity and overall health and well-being. When you have an alternate outlet for stress, you’re more likely to stay the course. 

Just as an alcoholic wouldn’t keep booze in the house, as a recovering porn addict, it’s important to eliminate all pornographic material from your life. That includes installing content blockers on your phone, computer, and other digital devices. If possible, avoid areas where you may see or encounter temptation such as exotic clubs or sexually explicit films and TV shows. The truth is, you can’t eradicate all sexual stimulation from your life, but you can increase your chances of success by using safeguards.

Relapse is Not the End

Overcoming addiction sometimes means expecting the worst. Relapse, though scary, is a very real part of addiction recovery. According to one study, as much as 60% of addicts will relapse at one point or another. As devastating as this, your reaction to relapsing is more important than relapsing itself.

Don’t let porn addiction relapse define you. You’re only human and mistakes and missteps are all part of life. What matters now is that you pick yourself up, refocus, and get back on the right track. This may involve performing another detox, signing up for another addiction recovery program, or reaching out to a therapist or support group. In the same way, you can’t let your porn addiction define you, you can’t let a minor relapse wipe clean all of your progress up until this point. 

Instead, get up, brush yourself off, and prepare for round two of the recovery process. You beat porn addiction once and you can do it again. 

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