I. The Basics of Porn Addiction Rehabilitation

This guide was written to provide an overview of the porn addiction rehabilitation process as well as to offer helpful resources for persons recovering from porn addiction.

Porn addiction treatment begins when someone realizes that their use of porn has become a problem in their overall life. They may see that it’s interfering with a relationship or career goals, for example, but they are unable to stop using porn on their own. They reach out for assistance and get a recommendation about what type of treatment program might be right for them.

Whether someone chooses an inpatient or outpatient program, they typically begin treatment with an orientation to the curriculum. That simply means meeting with professionals to discuss what the goals of treatment might be and learn more about the methods of therapy that will be used. The person might also learn about what will be expected of him or her, such as what therapy sessions might be necessary to attend and take part in. During treatment, counselors work with those caught in a behavioral addiction to develop healthier coping skills and plan for continued support for long-term recovery.

Description of the Four Steps of the Rehab Process

For more information, read our guide to the rehab process.

What Makes Porn Addiction Rehabilitation Difficult?

Individuals dealing with porn addiction can face numerous challenges that are slightly different from those dealing with something like a substance abuse disorder. While addiction of any kind can come with guilt and shame, porn addictions can seem harder to talk about for many because of the way society views sexual misconduct and porn in general. This can make it harder for someone to admit that they are dealing with a problem.

On the other hand, many within modern culture accept a variety of sexual behaviors and normal. They may see the use of porn as normal, making it hard for them to understand that a loved one or friend has developed a relationship with pornography that is a negative influence on overall life. This can make it difficult for someone to realize that they need professional help because those around them normalize the behavior.

Finally, not all therapists and other treatment professionals recognize porn addiction as a legitimate, diagnosable condition. To get treatment, you’ll need to find someone who will diagnose the issue and treat it as a legitimate concern.

The Unique Struggle of Porn Addicts
Porn addiction…
  • Can create strong feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment, reducing the likelihood people will admit to it or talk about it.
  • May involve some behavior that has been normalized by modern culture, which makes it harder to recognize.
  • Can begin as legitimate sexual exploration that develops into behavior that is uncontrolled and has a negative impact on someone’s life.
  • May not be recognized by all treatment professionals, making the search for intervention a bit more difficult in some cases.

Porn Addiction Rehabilitation Statistics

People Reporting Internet Porn Use, by Gender

58% Male
42% Female

Around 40 million adults within the United States admit to using porn online on a regular basis. When asked if they had an “internet sexual addiction,” around 10% of adult respondents said yes.

While more men than women view porn in general, the numbers are not as skewed as many people might imagine. Around a third of visitors to adult websites tend to be female, but women are more likely to keep their use of the internet and other types of porn a secret than men are. For example, in one study, around 85% of the people polled said they used internet porn. Around 42% of those who said yes were female, and 58% were male.

Men may be more likely to engage in riskier behavior to use porn. Around 20% of men said they had viewed porn at work. That’s compared to only 13% of women admitting to the same thing.

II. Porn Abuse Withdrawal Process

Porn addiction doesn’t come with the same type of physical withdrawal symptoms as some drugs do. Someone isn’t likely to get the shakes or nausea because their body isn’t getting the porn they are used to. However, that doesn’t mean that stopping porn use doesn’t come with some withdrawal issues if you’re addicted.

Some symptoms of porn addiction can include the fact that you need more porn — either more time viewing it or more aggressive types of porn — to achieve the same effect. You also may feel that you are compelled to watch porn and that you need it to get a “high” or feel right. This is because your brain may have become used to the pleasure of porn and not able to function without regular doses.

This can lead to withdrawal behavior, which means you take risks that you wouldn’t normally take to watch porn. You might put off important obligations, spend money you shouldn’t, or perform poorly at work or school because you’re staying up late watching porn. And if you try to stop, you find that your mind keeps returning to porn and you’re unable to concentrate on these daily activities, leading to similar results even though you’re trying to quit.

You might also find yourself “triggered” to return to using porn. A steamy scene in a movie, seeing someone kissing in the street, or just seeing someone who you find attractive might be triggers. In some cases, triggers might be stress — you’re under a lot of pressure at work, and you return to porn as a method of escape.

For more information about porn addiction, read our guide on porn addiction.

III. Treatment for Pornography Addiction

Because porn addiction is a behavioral issue, the treatments are typically behavioral in nature. Most often, treatment will include cognitive behavioral therapy or other forms of psychotherapy. In some cases, treatment professionals might also prescribe medications that can help with compulsive or obsessive thoughts. These options, which can include antidepressants and mood stabilizers, may be more common when porn addiction occurs alongside another diagnosis, such as a mental health disorder.

Rehabilitation Settings

Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, treatments such as rehab services, behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.

Inpatient treatment involves living full-time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period of time. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.

Porn Addiction Treatment Programs
Setting Type of Treatment Description Duration Time Commitment
Inpatient Short-Term Residential Intensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:
24
Days Per Week:
7
Long-Term Residential Intensive treatment in a non-hospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-12 months Hours Per Day:
24
Days Per Week:
7
Partial Hospitalization Intensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:
6-8
Days Per Week:
5
Outpatient Intensive Day Treatment Extensive services of an inpatient program but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-4 months Hours Per Day:
2-4
Days Per Week:
3
Counseling Both individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available. As long as desired Hours Per Day:
1-2
Days Per Week:
1-3
Support Groups Self-help groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours. As long as desired Hours Per Day:
1-2
Days Per Week:
1

Behavioral-Assisted Therapies

Behavioral therapy for addiction seeks to identify and manage addictive behaviors that lead to use and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept that all behavior is learned, and thus, unhealthy behavior can be changed through learning coping skills and increasing awareness of negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to substance abuse.

Behavioral Therapies for Porn Addiction
Type of Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

 

Further reading:

Definition

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is an evidence-based treatment option that is used for a wide variety of disorders. Evidence-based simply means that CBT is well-documented and shown to have proven impact on treating different conditions. Those include substance abuse disorders, mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, and behavioral disorders, including gambling or sex addiction and eating disorders.

CBT is a talk-based therapy. It can take place in an individual or group setting, and many treatment programs use both approaches. The role of CBT is to help someone identify unwanted or negative behaviors as well as the thoughts and triggers associated with those behaviors. By working to change their thoughts and emotional responses to triggers, individuals can develop healthier coping mechanisms that let them reduce or remove the negative behaviors from their lives.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

 

Further reading:

This is a form of CBT. But instead of trying to change or alter thoughts to make them healthier, it accepts certain thoughts. This can be potentially beneficial for those dealing with porn addiction because it’s possible that some of the thoughts and reactions that a person has with regard to sex are natural.

Those thoughts can be accepted, but during therapy, a commitment is made to develop and practice healthier courses of action with regard to the thoughts. In the case of porn recovery, for example, someone might work to develop a healthier activity related to sex that doesn’t interfere with relationships, careers, or other aspects of life.

IV. How to Find Help

Finding a Rehabilitation Center for Porn Addiction

When looking for a rehabilitation center or provider to assist with a porn addiction, it’s important to look for professionals who have experience with behavioral addictions. You must ensure that the person you’re dealing with is willing to diagnose you with a behavioral or sexual disorder and that the organization has the resources and knowledge to treat the disorder. You can’t simply assume that every facility that offers substance abuse treatment also offers this type of recovery option.

When considering porn addiction rehab centers, start with the location’s website. Look for pages that address behavioral addictions related to sex or gambling. If a center addresses those on its website, ask more about options and whether they treat porn addictions when you speak to an admissions counselor or someone else with the facility.

Our Directory

Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.