Technology can be triggering for a porn addict (and their partner, as well). This is an ever-present problem for those recovering from porn addiction because so many professions these days require a worker to be technologically connected through computers, smartphones, tablets, or other devices. But with the recent Coronavirus pandemic, more and more people are being required to work through technology while they “shelter-in-place.” “Virtual instruction,” “Zooming the meeting,” “telehealth,” and “video-chatting” are just some of the examples of the newer phrases being added to the already present lexicon of telecommuting workstyles due to this pandemic. These are especially triggering times for porn addicts and their partners due to the increased demand for them to be working through such technology.
Approximately 40 million Americans visit porn sites on a regular basis. Approximately, 18.6 to 29.8 million people in the United States have “problematic pornography usage” (i.e. porn addiction/compulsion). For those struggling with recovery from pornography and sexual addiction, being required to work on technological devices that they once used for sexually acting out is incredibly triggering (for them and their partners). Here are 3 things a recovering addict can do to help them and their partner feel safer using technology during this time:
- External Controls
- Intentional Technology Plan
- Communication with Partner and Accountability Partner
Here at LifeStar of the Central Valley, we provide every participant and partner entering the program with a list of reputable resources for technology protection filters and other tools against pornography. Whether it is Covenant Eyes, Adult Blocker, Antidopamine Porn Blocker, FamiSafe, or open DNS tools, all personal computers, phones, tablets, and other devices should have some form of external controls placed on them. Additionally, companies, agencies, and other professional workplaces typically have policies about what is and is not appropriate on devices owned by the business or agency. Workers should recognize that most workplaces monitor the histories of their workers on professional technology devices and many also place filters on their company owned equipment.
Intentional Technology Plan
Technology is a tool. You must ask yourself, who is in control here, the person or the technology? True recovery requires an addict to eventually develop an internal locus of control over this compulsion. In the meantime, creating an “Intentional Technology Plan” will help as the addict transitions from reliance on external controls to internal ones. The key is to be intentional about the use of the tool. No one would take up a hammer and say, “Let me sit here and play with it for a while” or “I think I will take this hammer, sit here, and just use it to relax.” While smartphones and other technology is far more sophisticated and entertaining than a hammer, nevertheless, both are tools. Writing out a plan that predeterminedly articulates when, where, and how you will use this tool of technology is important. You may write things like, “I will use the word processor to write memos,” “I will use spreadsheets to compile data,” or even “I will use the Internet to conducted work-related research, business meeting communication, and coordinate shared documents.” You should also write out things that you will not use the technology for such as: “I will not use my technology to surf the web, look up videos for entertainment, or engage in personal social media” along with the obvious statements like, “I will not use technology to view porn, reach out for sexual contacts, or engage in sexually acting out venues.” Plan to only use your technology intentionally rather than casually or mind-numbingly. Whenever you turn to technology make sure you have an intentional purpose for its use that is consistent with your Intentional Technology Plan. Then get off the technology devices once you’ve accomplished your task. Don’t linger absentmindedly or unintentionally on technology – that’s when danger to sexual sobriety lurks.
Communication with Partners
Finally, you should communicate with your romantic partner and accountability partner or sponsor about your Intentional Technology Plan. Have them read it, make suggestions, and agree with you on its implementation. Check back with them to ensure you are sticking to the plan. When you are about to start a Zoom meeting from home during this shelter-in-place period, mention to your partner what you are about to do, how long you plan on it taking, and when you will be available for anything needed around the home or when you will be proceeding to your next work task. Support one another through frequent communication where possible. Hold yourself accountable to follow your plans. Communicate any needed deviations from the plan (such as a meeting taking longer than planned) through a quick text or other communication as soon as possible.
Through these 3 steps, you will be able to stay safe and sober while using technology during this pandemic.
LifeSTAR of the Central Valley helps individuals, partners, and families to heal from the effects of pornography and sexual addiction. Complete our Self-Evaluation today to discover if LifeSTAR is right for you.