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Pornography Addiction: 5 Treatments That Are Proven To Work

By  Neha Kashyap
Therapy, medication, and hypnosis are some of the methods used to treat pornography addiction.

 

Pornography addiction is marked by a compulsive need to consume pornography that interferes with daily life.

Pornography addicts might experience powerful cravings, neglect responsibilities and engage in self-defeating behaviors. The condition can be difficult because of what research calls pornography’s “triple A” impact: accessibility, affordability and anonymity.

While pornography addiction is not yet clearly defined, treatment is widely available.

“Most treatment programs incorporate psychosocial, cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic and pharmacologic methodologies,” Dr. Rene Sorrentino, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and medical director at the Institute for Sexual Wellness in Weymouth, Massachusetts, says.

Here are some expert opinions on treating pornography addiction.

Behavior Modification

Dr. Daniel Sher, clinical psychologist and sex therapy consultant for Invigor Medical in Washington, recommends becoming aware of behaviors and triggers through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

“CBT works by helping a person to identify, challenge and change patterns of thinking and behaving that fuel porn use,” Sher says.

Sher also uses Motivational Interviewing (MI), or “strategic questions” to guide clients toward improvement. “MI guides them to think about the pros and cons of their addiction and nudges them in the direction of change that is going to improve their lives,” Sher says.

Mindfulness can also help. “Science has shown that when combined with therapy, mindfulness can really help a person to take control of their urges,” Sher says.

Group Therapy

Julia Alperovich, a therapist in Sherman Oaks, California whose “Undressing the Issue” podcast addresses sexual addiction, recommends group therapy and healing personal traumas.

“Connecting with others and experiencing emotional intimacy is a powerful tool in helping a person with this type of addiction…” Alperovich says. “Trauma-focused approaches are also helpful to explore how trauma may have affected the person's sense of safety being vulnerable with others.”

Hypnosis

Venka de Rooij, a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist in London, has treated porn addiction with several innovative methods. Hypnotherapy uses guided meditation to create a trance-like state where the patient can address deeper issues.

“Clinical hypnotherapy acts to pinpoint the root cause of the addiction by accessing the subconscious,” Rooij says.

Rooij also uses Bi Lateral Analysis Stimulation Technique (BLAST), a version of Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EDMR). During an EDMR session a therapist uses a patient’s eye movement to guide them through trauma. With BLAST trauma is processed through physical movement.

Finding Alternatives

Rooij also recommends replacing addictions.

“I am a firm believer if you take an addiction [or] coping mechanism away, you have to give something back to help that person cope when life throws them a curve ball in the future so they do not relapse,” Rooij says.

This idea is echoed by Jacob Kountz, a therapist at Kern Wellness Counseling in Bakersfield, CA. “…One of the most effective treatments for treating porn addiction is the process of finding something that is more worthwhile,” Kountz says. “I’ve helped many good people navigate through what porn gives them, and together we uncover things that have more worth, which eventually ends with them quitting porn for good.”

Kountz believes replacing old behaviors can promote self-improvement. “Finding something else that’s worth doing more than intermingling with porn develops intrinsic motivation and potential upward mobility in life,” Kountz says.

Medication

Medication could help with some cases of pornography addiction. “Pharmacologic interventions have focused on treating co-existing psychiatric disorders and targeting hypersexual or compulsive sexual behaviors with selective serotonin re-uptake inhibiters, [or] SSRIs,” Dr. Sorrentino says.

SSRIs, normally prescribed for depression, increase the body’s serotonin, the neurotransmitter that sends emotion-regulating signals between brain cells. “The rationale for using SSRIs is based on animal models, which show a decrease in sexual behaviors with increases in serotonin,” Dr. Sorrentino says.

But therapy might still be the surest bet. “In the absence of scientifically validated treatment, most clinicians working with pornography addiction strive to understand the maladaptive behavior and introduce prosocial, healthy alternatives,” Dr. Sorrentino says