Porn Addiction and Recovery: Expert Advice From Wendy and Larry Maltz

Wendy Maltz and Larry Maltz, authors of The Porn Trap (2008), were credited on its release with writing the first book that offers “a comprehensive look at porn addiction and other devastating consequences of porn use, addressing the full range of problems that impact everyone from recreational ‘dabblers’ to compulsive addicts, and the people who care about them.”

And, in a more recent article Wendy Maltz, who’s a sex therapist, is quoted regarding pornography “becoming a product that actually competes with the real thing, with a real partner. It is creating havoc for a good chunk of people in their dating, mating and early sexual development.”

On her website, Healthy Sex, Maltz describes the strength of porn’s addictive process:

It creates a triple feel-good cocktail. It can sexually excite, create a fantasy escape, and through orgasm facilitate a feeling of relaxation. Like a drug, regular porn use can alter brain and body chemistry, create a dependency on it, and lead to withdrawal effects when a person tries to quit. Today’s high-tech, push-the-button delivery systems, such as computers, cable television, and cell-phones, add to porn’s addictive potential by presenting stimulating game-like ways to instantly contact an unlimited amount of it.

She refers readers to the following brief video on “The Science of Pornography Addiction”:

Harmful effects of using porn can include the following, says Maltz:

  • Like cheating or having an affair, it often leads to divorce.
  • It can redirect sexual energy away from true intimacy, sometimes toward “risky, unloving, harmful, and illegal sexual behaviors, further compromising the porn user’s health and welfare.”
  • “Porn use can also damage a person’s mental health, physical well-being, family life, self-esteem, social relationships, and work.”

The Hazards of Porn,” a free downloadable poster provides more specifics. And “The Porn Problems Checklist” on her site (scroll down the article) is a self-test to determine the degree of one’s issues with porn.

Another free poster offered by Maltz is about the differences between healthy sex and porn-related sex.

The sooner you catch the problem, the better the prognosis for recovery. But be forewarned, “Quitting porn is not easy.”

It can feel similar to giving up a drug habit or leaving an established sexual relationship with an intimate partner. Success occurs for people who get clear on life priorities, secure strong support systems, and develop strategies for dealing effectively with porn cravings and desires. People who are in couple relationships often benefit from working together with their partner to rebuild trust and learn new approaches to sex. In time, it is possible to overcome the hold porn may have on you.

Selected Book Reviews

Gina Ogden, PhD, sex therapist: “This intelligent book brings a healing voice to an issue that too often divides and devastates partners–it goes way beyond ‘just say no,’ to offer heart-opening guidance that will help you explore new dimensions of sexual desire and intimacy.”

Barry McCarthy, PhD: “Groundbreaking. This is the best book on the market to help compulsive porn users and the people who love them to confront and change this destructive pattern.”

Barbara Levinson, PhD, RN, LMFT: “Informative and compassionate, The Porn Trap shows how porn problems can sneak up and trap you in compulsive sexual behavior before you even realize what’s happened. The average reader as well as the seasoned therapist will gain a clear understanding of how to address the problem that now affects millions of people.”

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