If you’re battling a pornography addiction, an important part of recovery is seeking help from a certified professional therapist and start attending support groups to help you in your fight. Your therapist will likely recommend that you find effective ways to restrict your access to pornography. Today, that largely means restricting your access to the internet. There are a lot of different ways to deal with a pornography addiction; some of these interventions are simple changes you can make yourself, some of them involve enlisting the support of friends or family, and some are tech-based interventions that will block your online access. If you’re serious about overcoming your addiction to pornography, you’ll likely want to use multiple interventions of various types.
That being said, If you have a severe problem with sex addiction or pornography addiction that’s negatively impacting your life in concrete ways — for example, if your family relationships are suffering because of your pornography addiction, or you’ve lost employment because of your pornography addiction — the best option for you might be to enter full time, in-patient porn rehab at a facility like Desert Solace, where a staff of experts can devote around-the-clock attention and expertise to help you beat your pornography addiction.
In the interim, here are a few intermediate tips to help you.
Take an Extended Internet Break
It can be helpful to get completely offline for an extended period of time. Unplug your router, or even suspend your internet service for a month. Give your phone and computer to someone to keep safe for you, if you can.
Start out with a weeklong detox and, if that goes well, try to extend that to a month. Once you rediscover that it’s possible — and maybe even better — to have an offline life, it can be much easier to regulate yourself when you get back online.
Do an Electronics Cleanse
Erase all saved passwords, logins, apps, bookmarks, search and browser history, videos and images from your devices. These profiles will be an immense source of temptation when you’re online, so it’s best to make it difficult to retrace these paths.
Even though it won’t be impossible to access the internet, the hope is that the increased inconvenience, coupled with your (hopefully) sincere desire to change your habits will prevent you from falling back into harmful patterns.
Enlist an Accountability Partner
An important part of recovery is establishing a recovery network that can support you in your efforts to overcome pornography addiction. We recommend attending local 12 step meetings or other support groups where you can find people who have achieved a stable recovery and ask them to help you hold yourself accountable for your online activities.
Contact this accountability partner before you log onto the internet, and then contact them when you log off. You can also consider having them check in with you periodically while you’re online. Touching base with this person will force you to closely reconsider any negative choices you may make while online and give you some helpful exterior pressure to stick to your resolution.
Don’t Go Online Alone
Most of us have to access the internet for our work, or to keep up with the news or maintain long-distance family relationships. But try to restrict your online time to periods when you’re visible to family or even strangers. Use your phone or laptop in common areas of your home such as the kitchen or living room, where you can be observed and monitored by others. During times when there aren’t observers around, use the internet in public spaces such as coffee shops or public libraries.
The previous tip touched on how privacy can be your enemy when you’re struggling with a pornography addiction. In the same vein, anonymity can work against you by allowing you to enter online spaces without any accountability.
After you’ve done a “digital cleanse” by deleting all the profiles and usernames associated with your past pornography use, make sure that any new profiles you create include your full name, as well as other identifying information such as birth year. Having these profiles clearly associated with your real-life identity will serve as another incentive to avoid negative habits and spaces.
Avoid putting passwords on your phone or computers so that anyone can access them. If you have to install login information, share it with your accountability partner or family members so that they can easily monitor what you’ve been doing online. Encourage them to check in periodically to make sure you haven’t fallen back into bad online habits.
Install Restrictive Software
While the previous items on this list are mostly behavioral or peer-pressure related, the following suggestions are tech-based solutions that will prevent you from accessing online pornography.
While forging new habits and behaviors is a vitally important part of managing a pornography addiction, research on decision fatigue suggests that, especially in the early stages, taking the decision-making pressure off the addict and putting it in the hands of an outside authority (or a computer program) can improve that addict’s long-term prospects of success.
Here are some of the top porn-blocking programs on the market:
This program can selectively block sites you designate as problematic and generates weekly reports detailing internet usage. Those reports can be automatically sent to your accountability partner, to keep them in the loop. Covenant Eyes also sends instant notifications if there’s an attempt to access blocked content.
Bark works across multiple platforms and can block nearly any app, program, site or type of content. Along with browser activity, it monitors social media activity, emails and even texts, and sends out an alert if problematic activity is detected.
This program works across multiple platforms and generates hourly, real-time reports on internet usage, so online activity can be monitored regularly. It should be noted, however, that this program only monitors online activity — it doesn’t actually block problematic sites.
Combining behavioral changes with tech-based solutions like these can definitely help you get over your pornography addiction, but if they prove to be inadequate, in-patient, on-site treatment at an accredited institution like Desert Solace can give you a more solid start to long term recovery from pornography addiction..