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Addiction recovery is a long and often difficult process that involves several stages. As you move through each stage, you may find that you need to use different strategies to continue on your journey.

There are usually underlying issues that cause pornography addiction. While it’s easy to say that porn addiction is just a result of a high sex drive, that’s almost never true. As you progress through the stages of recovery, you will have to look at what really caused the addiction and make changes to your strategies to address these causes.

Recovery is different for everyone. The process might be completely different from what you expect, or it might take longer than you anticipated. Everyone has a different experience with addiction and recovery, so it’s important to avoid putting pressure on yourself or comparing yourself to someone else. However, many people in recovery from porn addiction go through three main stages.

Stage One: Abstaining From Pornography

The first stage of recovery is all about abstinence. Many people in this phase feel angry, frustrated, or disappointed by how much control pornography has over them. Feeling negative toward yourself doesn’t help the recovery process at all, though. Try to focus on all of your victories, and take everything one day at a time.

Many people find that adding more structure to their lives is helpful in this stage. You can put filters on your phone or computer to prevent you from visiting porn websites. It’s also helpful to take a break from social media or dating apps where you might be exposed to sexual content. Setting daily goals and following a daily schedule can help to steer your focus away from negativity.

Stage Two: Addressing the Deeper Issues

Once you feel more comfortable with abstaining from watching porn, it’s probably time to take a look at the underlying causes of your addiction. You might be starting to experience some setbacks in your recovery journey, and addressing the root cause of your addiction can help push you forward.

Think about what is really driving you to watch porn. Where or when do you usually get urges? Do you have other habits or parts of your daily routine that strengthen your urge to watch porn? What was going on in your life when your addiction developed? It can be very difficult to think about this, but it’s an essential part of recovery.

Stage Three: Maintaining Recovery

Once you’ve broken the habit of watching porn and addressed the cause of your addiction, your focus now is on maintaining recovery. People in this stage often feel the urge to just watch a little porn because they’ve been doing so well. It’s great to be confident and proud of yourself, but saying “just this once” is a slippery slope that can lead back to addiction.

Even in this stage, it’s common for urges or feelings of depression or anxiety to occur. Think about how far you’ve come in your journey, and don’t feel discouraged that you’re not completely “cured.” Take everything one day at a time, and have faith in yourself that you can recover.