We define porn relapse as falling back into the former problem behavior of using porn. If you have become re-involved with porn after experiencing problems with it and after making a commitment to quit using it, then you have had a porn relapse.

There are many types of relapses, from minor slip-ups such as pick­ing up a porn magazine and glancing through it for a few minutes, to full-scale setbacks that involve seeking out and using porn for sexual release on a regular basis. For most people the briefer, less frequent, and less sexually involved the relapse, the less danger it poses to recovery. When responded to quickly and effectively, a minor slip-up can actually serve as a wake-up call for a recovering porn user to pay closer attention to his behavior and shore up vulnerable areas in his lifestyle.

Relapses that continue for weeks or months, involve sexual arousal and orgasm, and are essentially a return to regular porn use can be quite difficult to extinguish. Once someone has spent time away from porn, reestablishing the emotional and sexual attachment to it can actually strengthen a porn addiction. A relapse that continues over time can re­stimulate the desire for porn and result in problematic behavior being more intense, time-consuming, and damaging than ever before. As Brad shared, “When I went back to porn after months away and started using it regularly again, it felt as if I was trying to make up for lost time.”