My Top Six Books for Sex and Porn Addicts in Recovery

As the field of sexual addiction and pornography addiction grows, so too does its literature. It can be a little overwhelming to find trusted resources and books for sex and porn addicts and addiction that might be helpful in your recovery journey, especially if you’re just starting out.

 

That’s why I wanted to share some books that I use all the time with my clients. The books below are for those struggling with sexual behaviors that have gotten out of hand and are trying to change. If you want to pick these up, try your local bookstore or use the links below. (I’m not an Amazon affiliate and I’m not benefitting in any way by recommending these.) Next time I’ll share some resources for their partners.

1) Facing the Shadow (P. Carnes)

This hefty workbook is in its 3rd edition now, and for good reason: It’s become the standard accompaniment to psychotherapy for sexual addiction and pornography addiction and is used by Certified Sex Addiction Therapists all over the world. Chapter six alone is worth the price of the book; it provides essential tools for relapse prevention and basic instructions to create your recovery plan.

 

The workbook is so effective for sexual addiction treatment because it helps the reader to identify problematic sexual behaviors as well as the thoughts and feelings that immediately precede those behaviors. Linking these thoughts and feelings to their resultant behavior is critical in early recovery to preventing relapses and slips. It’s also really great for providing a ton of education for those in recovery about the nature of sex and porn addiction, which can instill a sense of hope for those just beginning their healing. If you’re curious, take a look-see here for more information.

 

2) Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship-Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating (R. Weiss)

Many sex addicts and pornography addicts are either married or in long-term, committed relationships, and they often come to see me when their partners have found out about their out-of-control sexual habits. When I start working with couples affected by sexual addiction or pornography addiction, or with an addict alone, they’re in great distress about their relationship. The addict is often overwhelmed with shame and also fear that his partner will leave him.

 

In these situations, addicts often have many, many questions: “What do I do now with my partner? What should I say? How can I save my relationship?” are but a few. Sometimes I’ve wished for a way to upload into their minds information about how their betrayal has hurt their partner, how to communicate with their partner in ways that promote healing, and what to do to help save the relationship. Rob’s book is the next best thing to a Vulcan mind meld in this regard. It’s brimming with helpful tips and information that provides immediate support to couples and addicts in crisis. I recommend it to clients constantly. Pick up your copy here.

 

3) Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide to Healing from Sex, Porn, and Love Addiction (R. Weiss)

Rob Weiss makes another appearance on this list and not without cause. In my opinion, this primer on sex, love, and porn addiction and how to heal is an essential text. In many ways, Rob’s book complements, updates, or even replaces Patrick Carnes’ Out of the Shadows, which was the classic introduction to sex addiction recovery (and don’t get me wrong, it’s still a helpful read).

 

Sex Addiction 101 covers all of the bases. After defining and providing an overview of sex addiction, it discusses the causes of sexual addiction, addiction and online or digital behaviors, addiction interaction (when sex addiction pairs up with other addictions), sex addiction and sexual orientation, and how to give your healing journey the best start possible. I recommend it to all of my clients struggling with compulsive sexual behaviors. Check it out here.

 

4) Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal (B. Steffens and M. Means)

“Hang on, isn’t this a book for partners?” you ask. Yep. But oftentimes sex, love, and pornography addicts don’t have an understanding of how their problematic sexual behaviors have impacted their partners. That’s not to mention all of the denial, minimizing, defensiveness, rationalizing, justifying, and lying that they’ve used to cover up their behaviors. Learning about the full scope of the sexual betrayal and living with the addict’s efforts to conceal their behaviors means that partners have been deeply and profoundly traumatized.

 

Of course, this book was written for partners to help them understand what they’re going through and to instill hope, but for that very reason, it can be essential reading for addicts themselves. Steffens and Means help addicts “get it”: They understand the trauma of betrayal and reading their book is a great way for addict to better understand and have empathy for their partners’ experiences and feelings. For more information, click here.

 

5) Treating Pornography Addiction: The Essential Tools for Recovery (K. Skinner)

Written for therapists but completely accessible to the layperson, Skinner’s book about recovering from pornography addiction addresses the unique contours of porn addiction and how to kick the habit for good. He starts with what porn addiction looks like and how it can progress, which helps the reader assess the severity of his or her own habit.

 

I really like that he gets how unconscious beliefs about oneself and one’s relationships can keep the person struggling with pornography trapped. He writes that the key to changing an addict’s relationship with pornography is uncovering how those beliefs impact behavior. Through increased awareness of the thoughts and feelings that lead up to acting out with pornography, the addict can ultimately feel more empowered to make different choices.

 

I also love that he gets that making any kind of changes about pornography use is a big deal, one that takes careful consideration and contemplation. He takes the reader through the stages of change in order to help them prepare to make lasting changes and teaches the addict how to make them stick. If you’re struggling with pornography, you can check out his book here.

 

6) Breaking Addiction: A 7-Step Handbook for Ending Any Addiction (L. Dodes)

Lance Dodes is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in the Division of Addictions and has published extensively in academic journals on addictions, so he really knows his stuff. He eloquently presents some sophisticated ideas in a simple, straightforward manner, making his book quite readable.

 

Why do I like this book so much? Two reasons. First, perhaps more than other other text of its kind, Dodes gets that addiction is a way to manage feelings. Each decision to use a substance or act out sexual is unconscious and automatic, and the way out of addiction is increasing awareness of the overwhelming feelings that precede the urge that screams, “I have to act out right now!” He calls these feelings of helplessness, by which he means any feelings that are overwhelming to a person that they feel helpless to manage without the addiction.

 

Second, then, by raising interest in those overwhelming feelings, he helps the reader be curious about themselves, which is absolutely critical in recovery. No addict is going to be able to experience deep, lasting change without looking internally at the feelings, motivations, trauma, and unconscious thoughts that perpetuate addictive behavior. Without self-critical reflection, the addict’s changes in behavior won’t last; the addict might be sober, but he won’t be recovered.

 

Finally, while this will be controversial to some, Dodes addresses the possible benefits and limitations to 12-step groups. I’ve found this discussion helpful because 12-step groups aren’t for everyone. While his bias is evident, his discussion can help those in recovery find a community of support that’s right them them. Want to learn more? Check his book out here.

Jeremy Mast
jmast@awakeningsrelationalcounseling.com
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