Skip to main content

Written by: Andrew da Roza, Addictions Therapist, Sex Addiction Specialist

Introduction

Recovery from cybersex and Internet pornography addiction may prove a long journey.

The client’s: bio-psycho-social vulnerability; length of time; frequency and nature of the cybersex and porn use; the age of earliest use; co-occuring mental and physical disorders; and the severity of their distress and impairment – may all play a part in determining the length of the recovery journey.

However, a qualified and experienced therapist helping clients in recovery from Internet cybersex and porn addiction, will be able to guide them and their loved ones through a structured, measurable and systematic process.

This process increases a client’s chances of achieving a sustainable recovery from cybersex and porn addiction and in the shortest feasible time.

Cybersex includes any online sexual activity, and includes: the use of Internet porn; real-time sex with a partner; sex chat/performance rooms; sex acts between avatars in Internet sex games and virtual simulations; and live-streamed sex.

Cybersex is accessible, anonymous, affordable, available 24×7, and provides a super-normal stimulus that can hijack our normal sexual arousal.

It becomes a cybersex and porn addiction when, over time it creates:

Compulsive and impulsive behaviour; a lack of Control – despite attempts to cut down or stop; Cravings, urges and preoccupation; and Continued use, despite severely negative Consequences.

These are the 5 Cs of cybersex and porn addiction.

Recovery from Cybersex and Porn Addiction – Stage 1 – Education

The first step a therapist will take is to understand the nature, extent and history of the client’s compulsive cybersex and porn behaviour, and the consequences of that behaviour. The therapist will use validated assessment questionnaires.

The therapist will also help the client to develop their narrative of how cybersex started, what is driving continued compulsivity, and whether cybersex is being used as maladaptive self-soothing, numbing, avoidance or escape mechanism. Precursors and drivers such as anxiety, depression, stress, shame and suicidality will also be explored.

The therapist will provide the client with information and materials that the client can use to educate themselves on the causes, effects, and solutions to cybersex and porn addiction.

Importantly, when the client is able to articulate a detailed narrative of their journey into cybersex and porn addiction and is able to educate themselves on it, they are likely to increase their motivation to pursue recovery from the addiction.

Without this motivation, clients may be unwilling to persevere in taking the recovery actions.

Initially, it is common for clients to be ambivalent about whether they have a cybersex and porn addiction and whether they wish to take a recovery journey.

Motivational Interview brief therapy may permit a client to find a “safe space” in which they can explore whether they have a cybersex and porn addiction, and decide whether their lives are now so unmanageable that recovery actions and behaviour change are more desired than the status quo.

Recovery from Cybersex and Porn Addiction – Stage 2 – Abstinence

As a client moves into the recovery planning stage, a number of recommendations are explored and an action plan is articulated.

This may include an initial period of complete abstinence from sex. Abstinence periods of 40 to 90 days are common; and they assist the client’s brain and body to return to a “base” level of sexual activation – and allow cognitive healing to take place.

Abstinence may require clients to: load porn blockers, filters and trackers on all their electronic devices; and delete sex apps, websites and porn on these devices.

It may require that clients: “unfriend” or block others; cancel their own online porn and dating memberships/subscriptions; delete social media Apps and sites such as Telegram, Face Book, Twitter and Instagram.

The client may need to use a “dumb phone” (non-Smart Phone) that is not connected to the Internet – or place their phone in a timed “lock-box” at night, or allow their trusted friend or loved one to hold onto their phone, when they don’t need to use it for school or work.

A number of suggestions will be given to clients to manage urges and cravings. A relapse prevention plan will be articulated, to enable clients to be aware of the antecedents of their urges and triggers, so that new responses can be substituted for the automatic sexual acting out.

The client may be able to start daily mindfulness and meditation practice, and use emotion regulation and distress tolerance tools.

Recovery from Cybersex and Porn Addiction – Stage 3 – Connecting with Others

The easiest and by the far the most effective way to weather urges, cravings, low mood, shame and anxiety that typically follows abstinence, is to seek and receive the help of others.

Partners, families and friends may be willing and able to assist. If they attend a session with the therapist, education on cybersex and porn addiction will be given, and suggestions will be offered on what they can do to assist the client in their recovery journey – and what is likely to interrupt that recovery journey.

In many cases, seeking the help of partners, family and friends may not be an option. In most cases, it won’t be enough.

Those closest to the client are likely to be those most damaged by the cybersex and porn addiction. They be angry, resentful, anxious, ashamed, directive or demanding. They may want to simply “wash their hands” of the client and the behaviour.

They may not understand that cybersex and porn addiction is a mental disorder – and like all mental disorders, repeatedly telling a suffering person to “stop”, and imposing ever greater punishments and isolation, simply will not help. It will simply create more stress, shame, anxiety and dishonesty – and make the disorder worse.

The client is likely to have a long history of secrets and lies about their behaviour, and they may be mired in crippling shame, self-denigration and fear.

So, asking partners, loved ones and friends to assist them in recovery may not be an option that the client is willing to consider.

The therapist will assist clients to find a community of people in recovery suffering from the same cybersex and porn addiction, to provide non-judgmental, compassionate support.

Many clients find comfort and help in 12 Step support groups, such as Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous.

Both of these 12 step groups have both online and in-person meetings in Singapore – and online meetings in many other countries, including Australia, Hong Kong, the UK and the USA.

Membership is free and there is a meeting somewhere in the world 24×7.

Clients also find help in group therapy.

Visions holds group therapy sessions every other Saturday from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Unlike 12 Step groups, therapy groups are facilitated by qualified and skilled therapists. and group members are invited to share and respond to each other, offering similar experiences and how they coped with them.

Recovery from Cybersex and Porn Addiction – Stage 4 – The Beginning of the End

The first 3 stages are the beginning of a client’s journey in recovery from cybersex and porn addiction.

What follows are therapeutic interventions and learnings in which the client finds: stable recovery; insights; relationship amends and repair; trauma treatment; interpersonal relationship and social skills; responsible and healthy Internet use skills; self-care using real-world and natural rewards; and a manner of living that promises a meaningful, purposeful, full and flourishing life.

*Visions assist clients in Singapore to enable them to improve their lives; and our website provides the images, names, languages, qualifications, and experience of specialists who can help.

Find out more on Sex, Love, and Pornography Addiction >>

Leave a Reply