How to break porn addiction (long-term)

-By A. Scott Roberts
M.S. Rehabilitation CounselingHow to stop porn addiction

Pornography is very similar to other addictions. It is not just a "bad habit" but has compulsive components. Porn addicts often feel as if they have uncontrollable urges and cravings which are relinquished by "giving in."

The reason that cravings and urges appear so strong is because they come from a part of the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system is very powerful. It is DENSER than other brain structures and evolved before rational thought.1

This explains why the thoughts, urges and cravings for pornography seem incredibly strong and why FIGHTING, SUPPRESSING or AVOIDING cravings actually feeds them.2 This is what 95% of people do.

Cravings and urges originate in the primal and survival part of the brain. For some, porn has become such a regular part of their life, just like eating or drinking. If an addiction is threatened, they experience a "fight or flight" response.

Most people, when considering quitting their addictive behavior, experience a great deal of FEAR and PANIC.  Fear of being without your drug. Fear of not being able to cope with stress or fear of not being able to relieve tension. Those who successfully quit porn addiction stop trying so hard to "overcome" it and start to manage it in a less worried way...

Porn addicts want to quit porn addiction, but have an extremely hard time dealing with the intense cravings and urges. If you want to know how to stop porn addiction, you need to know about the methods that are proven to diminish cravings and urges for porn.

Step 1: Stop making judgements about your cravings and urges for porn

You first need to change YOUR perception about your cravings and urges. You need to STOP telling yourself that a craving, is "bad." You also need to stop thinking that you are a "bad" person if you have a craving or urge to look at porn. We often acquire these perceptions because urges and cravings precede the negative consequences, guilt and shame from being addicted to porn.

A craving or urge, in and of itself is NOT "bad."

Those who continually try to quit porn addiction often end up associating themselves with it. Because of this, porn addicts panic. They try to suppress or escape urges. You need to realize that the urge or craving is NOT you. You are NOT the message your brain is sending. You are NOT the urge...

It is important to change your overall perspective of the urge. You are not bad for experiencing a craving. It is a faulty message that is sent from the brain and has been continually fed and strengthened.

Step 2: Stand out of the urges path

After gaining the correct understanding about these urges and cravings, you need to learn how to properly react to them. When you are experiencing cravings or urges to look at porn, step outside the urges path and examine them as a curious scientist would. Observe without being judgmental about it. Thinking an urge is bad is a judgement.

You can learn how to quit porn addiction for good by just observing those urges. Observe what biological responses are going on in YOUR body. Do your hands get sweaty? Is your heart rate increasing? Is your mouth watering?

Examine any bodily responses WITHOUT getting caught up in them. By stepping out of the urges path and examining the urge and the bodily responses, you are changing the relationship you have with that urge and craving. In the past you probably panicked, tried to avoid or suppress that urge. But this time DO NOTHING. Only observe.

Gain a third person perspective about that urge. What does it really feel like to have that urge and how does the body react to this intangible feeling?

Step 3: Realize the urges are false messages

Urges and cravings for porn are really false messages. Your brain tells you that you need to give in. But you don't need to. You survive fine without it.

Remember Pavlov's dog? Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who investigated autonomic reflexes in animals. During one experiment he discovered the concept of classical conditioning. Pavlov rang a bell when he fed some dogs. What Pavlov discovered is that he could make the dogs salivate at the sound of the bell after the repeated pairing of food with the bell.

The bell was a "cue" for the dogs. Similarly, addicts acquire certain "triggers." Some of these triggers include negative emotional states and visual stimuli. Your brain has started to treat your drug as a real need, but it isn't. Research shows that when addicts are experiencing a "trigger" dopamine actually spikes in the brain.3 Just as Pavlov's dog was conditioned to the bell.

Pornography overstimulates the brain's reward system. Without porn, the brain screams "FEED ME!" But your brain is playing a trick on you. You don't need to feed it.

Step 4: Surf this urge and ride it outporn addiction help

You have now become aware of these urges and cravings for porn. You realize that they are false messages. You have stood back out of the urges path and observed it, and now you must ride it. Like a wave that builds up, you must observe the urge as it gradually increases, hits crest and then diminishes.

You MUST observe it like a wave. Imagine it in your mind's eye that it is a wave that is building up slowly and then hits the shore and diminishes. These waves crash once you ride it out because there is no solid foundation. They are only feelings and transitory moments that quickly pass. Stand back, observe and watch as the wave quickly dissipates.

Step 5: Redirect your attention.

Once the urge has diminished, you redirect your attention to something else. To a task at hand or to an enjoyable activity that gets you physically involved. Some people that are trying to overcome porn addiction may need to do something physically demanding after surfing that urge. Some activities include running, playing sports or yoga.

But those who practice this technique regularly, notice they have more cognitive control.

Addressing the desire, not the behavior is most important. This is what the Truth Of Addiction system is all about.

Click to watch this FREE presentation.

Bonus tip: focus on building a new life instead of fighting the old.

The methods described above is not just an easy way to diminish cravings and urges, but also rewires the brain because you are training your brain to react in a different way it did in the past. It is weakening the addictive neural-pathways and building new ones. When neural pathways change, they impact the chemicals and mood.

-A. Scott Roberts
 M.S. Rehabilitation Counseling

About the Author

A. Scott Roberts is a counselor, author and outdoor enthusiast. He teaches and trains individuals to overcome barriers, and has taught people all over the world to beat their addiction long-term. He earned his Master's Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and is a certified rehabilitation counselor.

References:

1. Blakeslee, Sandra. (2002). “Hijacking the Brain Circuits with a Nickel Slot Machine.” The New York Times (February 19),
2. Clark D.M., Ball S, & Pape D. (1991) An Experimental Investigation of Thought Suppression Behaviour Research and Therapy, 29, 253-257
3. Getting the Brain’s Attention. (1997) Science, Oct. 3

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