How the NHS can cut porn addiction wait lists

 

In recent years I have twice been on 7-month-long waiting lists to see NHS professionals- this first a psychotherapist, the second a psychosexual therapist. These have both been in relation to porn addiction.

The problem I have is part of an international epidemic. Any country like the UK , where broadband internet is available, is facing the issue of men becoming addicted to porn on a massive scale. Swathes of these men are going to their GP like I did asking for the same help.

When I was in therapy, the advice I eventually got was very helpful. I was advised to find alternate pleasures, to spend more time enjoying other hobbies, to make an effort to go out and form new friendship circles and in particular with women. I was encouraged to trust my instincts and feelings, to not get myself into situations in which I wasn’t comfortable, to be confident enough to say ‘no’ to people, and most importantly to arouse myself with thoughts of things I had seen in real life- people I had seen or met in bars and clubs, as opposed to watching porn.

All of these techniques and chunks of advice must be helpful to the countless other men addicted to internet porn. The therapists I saw must have been going over these techniques repeatedly, yet a lot of this information I haven’t found online anywhere. There also isn’t anyone to go to other than a doctor, who will then put you on a wait list. I’ve got a better idea.

Let’s say you go to your doctor and explain you believe you’re addicted to internet porn. He then asks a few questions to check the severity of the problem. He would then refer you to attend a seminar, titled something discreet like ‘BPA Men’s Health’ (BPA would stand for Beating Porn Addiction, not that anyone outside the seminar would know).

In this session, you’d be given a letter-headed form and advised to take notes, and listen to the above advice, and think about how it affects you and what changes you can make. After this there’d be a question and answer session for those brave (or exhibitionist) enough to speak up. (As the seminar would be so loud we’d need an assistant with a roaming microphone.)

Concluding the seminar would be a suggestion to get involved with an anonymous website forum, similar to Paula Hall’s, which would allow people to share advice and success stories and ask questions.

Once the seminar is complete, the attendee then takes his letter-headed form home and works on this advice for a month. After a month’s period, if he feels he still needs to, he then takes this form to his GP and shows that he has in fact attended the seminar and taken the advice on board. He asks for a referral to psychosexual therapy as he would today, and then when his time with the therapist comes around he’s already streets ahead of where he would be with today’s model, and with a basic knowledge of addiction and the best ways to fight it. The patient and therapist would then focus on the specifics of the problems of addiction and how it affects him.

Surely this model would work not only for porn addicts but for people fighting other addictions too. There may also be other conditions that affect many people- nicotine addiction from smoking, perhaps- in which the same advice could be given to a whole crowd of people at once, this streamlining the support being given.

Is this something the NHS could realistically implement? I may ask around…

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