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Does Sex Cure Porn Addiction?

Written by on February 5, 2010 in Brain Science of Addiction - 7 Comments

As a therapist, I have often worked with individuals who initially believe that “sex” will cure their porn addiction. Perhaps you or someone you care about has said one or more of the following:

  • “Once I get married I won’t have a porn problem anymore!”
  • “Now that I am having sex with one I love I won’t have a pornography problem anymore!”
  • “Why do I still look at pornography? I’m getting all the sex I need.”
  • The sex in my relationship isn’t enough, nor what I thought it would be. I still have to look at pornography to have my needs met. I thought this would stop.”
  • “I’m not good enough, is that it? Why does he have to look at pornography anyway? Why?”
  • “Sex is never good enough for him. He always wants more or something different–what more can I do?”
  • “When we make love is he thinking about them or me? Who is he having sex with anyway?”

Many people and couples who are struggling with these statements are also struggling in their own personal relationships. They are finding that pornography is creating a divisive wedge in their intimate, committed relationships with destructive consequences.

I find that many men are introduced to pornography at an early age. Some of my patients had their first exposure as young as age two or three! Unfortunately, when these powerful images enter the highly impressionable, developing brain of a child or teenager, addiction is often the result. Many have the mistaken belie that once they enter adulthood and a committed relationship, their fascination with pornography will cease. What they fail to understand is that porn addiction is literally a “brain chemical” addiction, in many ways identical to a street drug addiction. Someone hooked on cocaine as a teenager, would not reasonably expect to automatically lose that desire or dependency simply because they reach legal age. Likewise, porn addiction does not magically disappear with adulthood.

But what about sex? Why would someone continue seeking out pornography and masturbation when they can have sex with their partner? Why would they still have the need? Think of it this way–would having sex eliminate a cocaine addict’s desire for their drug? Of course not, because cocaine addiction is not about sex. The same principle applies to porn addiction. Most people are completely unaware that “pornography addiction is NOT about sex.” Pornography creates a literal chemical dependency in the brain. The individual uses porn as a “drug-of-choice” to escape and “self-medicate” in response to any number of pressures, difficulties, needs or situations in his life. Having sex is not going to heal a chemical addiction.

It is true that sex can sometimes temporarily reduce the perceived need for pornography. Because self-pleasure and masturbation virtually always accompany porn viewing, sex can temporarily replace the fantasy images and masturbation. However, when one’s partner is simply a replacement for addiction, she can usually sense the facade. As the wife of one of my patient’s said, “I feel he’s just using me to masturbate. We’re not connected.” So, sexual intimacy doesn’t replace or stop pornography addiction. The pornography simply creates problems in the relationship. And soon, sex with one partner isn’t sufficient to meet the “brain chemical” needs of the addict.

If you’re struggling under the burden of porn addiction, be careful not to fool yourself into thinking that if your partner were more sexually exciting and responsive, your problem would be solved. This makes about as much sense as believing sex would eliminate a drinking problem. You have to do the work of treating your addiction–get on the recovery path and put in the time and effort to address the “real” underlying issues and causes of your porn use.

This is what the Candeo program is all about. We can help you learn about the true nature of your addiction and the steps you must take to start moving toward your freedom. You can break free and you can have a close, committed, wonderful relationship with your partner. But you can’t expect that person to rescue you from the work of recovery, or magically make your struggles go away. They can encourage, support and walk with you, but only you can make the commitment and get started. We’re here with the training, tools, coaching and support you need. We’re ready when you are.

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