What is treatment for sex/porn addiction and for co-occurring substance use and sexual behavior?

In a general way, treatment for these issues utilizes the same basic strategies and techniques that work with alcoholism, drug addiction, other behavioral addictions, and eating disorders. Early treatment efforts focus on containing the problematic behavior. Safety is our primary concern. After that, we focus on breaking through your denial, managing the crisis or crises that pushed you into recovery, and preventing relapse. Nearly all sex/porn addicts are trauma-based in their behavior, but dedicated trauma therapy is typically set aside in the early stages of treatment, embarked upon only after you’ve established a modicum of sexual sobriety, ego strength, and social support.

Treatment includes both individual and group therapy—most often a directive, behavior-focused modality like cognitive behavioral therapy—paired with social learning, psycho-education, 12-step or other addiction-focused social support, and alternative methodologies like psychodrama, art and movement therapies, exercise, meditation, animal therapies, adventure therapies, and the like. Some clients might also begin a trial-run of an antianxiety or antidepressant medication, as these can reduce not only anxiety and depression but cravings to act out sexually.

What is your role in your partner’s treatment?

Your role in the addict’s treatment involves learning how to provide prodependent (effective and useful) support to your addicted loved one. We strongly suggest you purchase and read the book, Prodependence, written by Dr. Robert Weiss. We also suggest you seek external support and guidance through therapy or some other support group for wives/partners of addicts. To this end, you can find free online articles, podcasts, webinars, and discussion groups for partners of addicts at the Seeking Integrity run website, SexandRelationshipHealing.com.

What is sexual sobriety and how will it affect you and your relationship?

When your sex/porn addicted partner enters sexual recovery, you are likely to be filled with questions. One of those questions will almost certainly deal with sexual sobriety. What is it? How is it defined? Does sexual sobriety mean total abstinence, as we see with drug addiction and alcoholism? And if sexual sobriety does require abstinence, how will that affect you and your relationship with your partner?

Fortunately for you and your relationship (and for your addicted partner), sexual sobriety is not defined by long-term abstinence. Celibacy is not viewed as a long-term solution to sex/porn addiction. Sex/porn addiction therapists define sexual sobriety much as we define sobriety with eating disorders—another area in which long-term abstinence is neither desirable nor feasible. Rather than permanently abstaining from all sexual activity, recovering sex/porn addicts think about sobriety as learning to be sexual in non-compulsive, non-problematic, life-affirming ways.

What will your significant other’s daily treatment regimen look like?

As part of treatment, you should expect the following:

  • Full Psychiatric and Psychosexual Evaluation
  • Completion of the Sexual Dependency Inventory (Done Online)
  • Behaviorally Focused Individual and Group Therapy
  • Sexual (and Chemical) Sobriety Education
  • Social Learning and Accountability
  • Alternative Therapeutic Modalities (Art Therapy, Psychodrama, Adventure Therapy, etc.)
  • 12-Step Sexual Recovery Focus and Participation
  • Digital Era (Online) Recovery and Participation
  • Prodependent Partner/Family Involvement
  • Shame Resilience Work
  • Somatic Experiencing (Trauma Work)
  • Self-Care (Exercise, Meditation, Yoga, Massage, Acupuncture, etc.)
  • Aftercare (Relapse Prevention) Planning and Implementation
  • Continued Treatment-Group Interaction (Weekly Online Meetings)

Will you be able to communicate with your loved one while he or she is in treatment?

Yes, of course you can. In fact, as part of treatment, you will be asked to involve yourself in multiple phone and/or video conversations as part of family therapy work. That said, while your partner is in treatment, it is important that he or she focus on the task at hand—understanding and overcoming the addiction. Clients who come to us overly focused on outside issues often find their process of healing and recovery becomes stunted. Thus, we do limit the use of phones and computers to early morning, break times, and early evening. Porn, hookup apps, reaching out to former drug affiliated friends, and similar actions are strictly forbidden.