Pornography Addiction Recovery – Four steps to Freedom

Pornography addiction recovery is possible, but it’s not easy or automatic. Here are four steps we need to take if we’re going to overcome the power of pornography addiction. This is not a complete list, but these are very important. By the way, these four steps also apply to other forms of sex and love addiction as well.

1. Total Honesty

This means total honesty with spouse, family and/or anyone who is being hurt by the addiction.For more information about “disclosure” with spouses, check this article I wrote. We need to have people we are completely honest with about our addictive behaviors. Addiction thrives in secret and dies in the light of honest truth-telling.

It doesn’t work if we tell person A part of the story, person B another part, and person C something else. If we’re partially honest and partially accountable to several people, we’re not really honest and accountable with anyone. It’s like trying to jump over a canyon with three short hops instead of one long jump. Partial doesn’t cut it. We need to share the whole story.

Total honesty also means being honest with ourselves. In order to beat this addiction we have to face things we don’t want to face. We’re going to have to face the truth about our past, including the ways we’ve hurt others with our addiction, and the ways we’ve been hurt. We’re going to have to face our emotions, instead of using pornography to distract ourselves and numb out.

Total honesty means facing the fact that some of the things we were taught growing up are now things we now know to be untrue. For example, many of the messages we’ve taken in about what it means to be “a real man” — are not true. The only people who live successfully with the “manly man” stereotype are fictional characters. Real human beings who try to live that way turn out to be lonely, narcissistic, and really unhappy.

2. Rigorous hard work

If someone thinks recovery will just be a matter of reading some books and going to a few meetings, they are in for an unpleasant surprise. Recovery is a lot of work!

We need to start opening up our lives and getting honest with others. We need to learn about recovery, go to meetings, and do the internal work – such as the 12 Steps – that recovery requires. This will take time. We need to come up with a recovery plan, especially in the beginning, and stick to it. It can be as elaborate or simple as we want to make it, but we need to make the plan and stick to it.

Recovery is not for the slacker. We need to figure out ways to avoid porn and ways to change the focus of our minds when sexual craving pops up (and it will “pop up”). If our friends want to go to a super-sexual movie — or some other triggering place — we need to know what we are going to do.

We also need to find the positive things we want to fill our lives with in the absence of pornography and other sexual behaviors. If recovery is only about stopping something that is pleasurable (though destructive), but we don’t come up with anything meaningful and positive to do instead, we will eventually give up and go back to our old ways.

3. Outside Help

Different recovery teachers and sponsors might have different emphases in their recommendations about how people recover, but on this we find universal – and vehement – certainty: No one can do this alone. We all need outside help.

The outside help may be something as simple as participating in an online program like the Recovery Journey, where we read recovery materials and do recovery tasks each day, and participate in phone coaching calls. But we will likely need more. We will need to find a recovery group, like Living in Freedom Every Day (LIFE) groups, Sexaholics Anonymous (SA), Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA). We may need to find a sexual addiction therapist, or at least a good therapist with expertise in helping us come to terms with unprocessed early life trauma. We may need to find accountability partners.

This probably sounds like a lot of time, energy, and expense … and it is. We are reprogramming ourselves from decades of destructive messages and addictive ways of thinking and behaving.

The good news is that it can be done. If I can do it I know that others can too! I also know many other people in porn addiction recovery programs who have a years of sobriety under their belt. It can be done–and it is being done.

4. Resilience

Never, never quit. We will suffer setbacks. We may slip … and we may even relapse. But we only fail if we stop trying. That will be hard – probably the hardest part. When our addiction tells us: “You have already slipped, let’s just look a little longer.” or ” You deserve it, you’ve had a hard day and it’s just a quick peek” we must not give in.

But suppose we do? That is when we really have to ask how badly we want to be clean, how badly we want to stop this destruction. Then we confess to God and whoever else we need to confess to: our sponsor, our spouse, the people in our group. And we start again.

This is how you break this pornography addiction. Put these principles in your journal, remind yourself of them daily, and incorporate them into your life. You will see changes.

I’d love to hear from you about this. Do you agree with this list? Is there anything you’d like to add to it? What have you found helpful in your experience with pornography addiction recovery?

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19 thoughts on “Pornography Addiction Recovery – Four steps to Freedom”

  1. I completely agree. I have been in recovery and therapy for about a year now and these four steps ring true in many ways. Getting out of isolation, writing down my rigourously honest first step and sharing with my SAA sponsor, and constantly digging deep into my soul and psyche to understand the underlying motivations of why I acted out and dealing with those deep seeded emotions and beliefs has led to true healing and put me on the path of being a much better person.

    Unfortunately for me it has also meant the end of my marriage, but I would rather be single and recovered than married and addicted. I dont want to ever go back to that life again and now that I have seen a little bit of the light and who I can be when I am not burdened with addiction, it just makes me want more of it.

    Thanks very much for your blog and your ebook and I look forward to joining http://www.RecoveryJourney when it comes available.

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  3. Andrew — Thanks for your comments here. I’m sorry to hear that your marriage ended, but I really appreciate the commitment you have to recovery. I’m glad to hear that you’re seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I remember that as a key turning point in my own recovery … the sense that came to me after some months of solid sobriety: “I can imagine living like this for the rest of my life. This could work!”

    I’m looking forward to the launch of the Recovery Journey. I can’t state the date yet for it, but it will be happening soon.

  4. Pornography addiction is not a trivial matter…but it can be overcome! While this issue has also caused the end of my marriage, I am very grateful that for once in my life I have been freed of pornography’s evil grip.

    I completely agree that 100% honesty is essential…even if it means consequences. I also agree that it takes DAILY work and accountability with outside people. In my case, I activated filters on my computer, but more than anything else it has been the knowledge that others know of my past issues and that I know that future consequences could be even worse than what I’ve experienced so far.

    It is great being able to be on the computer now and not feel the constant fear about what people might think if they looked at my browser history or downloaded files. But I don’t allow myself to be complacent.

    Dealing with this issue for me means watching what I do (TV shows, internet use, movies) and that I carefully consider what I’m looking at…and consciously deciding what I WON’T view…

    EACH DAY IS A DAY TO BE IN RECOVERY!!!

  5. Keith,

    Thanks for your comments. I think there are many men in recovery who can relate to what you’re saying about the computer … what a great thing it is when you can have someone look at your computer and not be freaking out about what they might find. There is such freedom to be found in recovery. Thanks for that reminder.

  6. Total honest? Not the way you mean it in the article about discosure to spouses. Sometimes, honestly demands, not lying, but yes silence. Look, this is very complex. There is not a black and white answer on this one. Each marital relationship is different. I think it is fair to ask your spouse the question, “Do you want full disclosure?” and then honor their own wishes on the matter. My spouse did not want full disclosure. But, I do agree with the other points.

  7. Im not good with computer just learning can someone please tell me which button to press so i can reply back. Long term pot abuse has really played a number on my head. Week 3 has been really hard on me. I havent cried in so long and now i cant stop it and i feel quilty for my behavour. crying is really helping release my stress. The first two weeks was hard with wanting to use but this week is the opposite i dont want to go back to that stuff.

  8. I absolutely adore reading your blog posts, the variety of writing is smashing.This blog as usual was educational, I have had to bookmark your site and subscribe to your feed in ifeed. Your theme looks lovely.

  9. Bill – I appreciate your comment, and the qualifier about full disclosure. It’s true that questions about disclosure to spouses are complex and controversial. Some people see it differently than I do, although many of the leaders in this field that I respect (such as Pat Carnes, Mark Laaser, and Patti Schneider) are advocates of full disclosure fairly early in the process of recovery, provided that the spouse also has some support. That said, some spouses – and it sounds like yours is one – would rather not know about this, and that’s something for you guys to come to agreement on. Even so, it still is important that you have someone you can talk to about this … someone you can disclose to … even if that’s not your spouse.

    Carolyn – all I can say is good luck. As you can see from the comments here – yours DID appear, so you managed to find the right button 🙂 Good luck with recovery.

    Odis – either you are spam web comment, or you’re just full of compliments. i’m hoping it’s the second!

    1. that we have to work it out between the 2 of us??? As if this was sotmiheng that I caused??? (We have only been married 3 1/2 yrs, His divorce from her mother is what caused it, because of her infidelity. Also a issue they had with their oldest daughter when she went off to college at 19. I just happen to get all the left over insanity from it. I found this out the 1st yr we were married, that he was an alcoholic, as I was finding bottles of vodka hidden in our garage, or his work shed, etc. He told me that he only drank wine prior to our marriage). They think if they bury their head in the sand & PRETEND that it does not exist, it will all go away. What is going to go away is their dad & son! & maybe myself & my little life saver of a dog, Bella, (She is the only love I have or get in my life. He already let her jump out of our moving truck, it’s amazing she didn’t get run over or killed. Fortunately, it was right in front of our house.) I don’t understand that attitude from his family for the LIFE of me??? Yet if sotmiheng bad happened, I KNOW they would all blame me. As his mom did already when I tried to tell her about 1 occurance, she said, well, who gave it to him ??? He is 59 yrs old! And each yr, he grows more and MORE combative, more arguementive. But he doesn’t think he has a problem, or just doesn’t care. But I am tired of his mental & emotional abuse. It is costing ME everything, including my relationship with the Lord. What do or can you do when they will not admit that they even HAVE a problem or they refuse to go get help???

  10. Between my sex addiction before and now progressed at speed of light on Internet pornography which has excelerated my addiction. Objectifying women on a daily basis to numb my pain of physical and emotional abandonment by my mother and step dad is a daily battle. I found using the 3-5 second rule and especially if I body-part women. Needless to say this addiction stinks and hate the thought of being a pervert!

  11. Tim, thanks for the comment. I just wanted to briefly respond about what you said at the end … I really dislike the label “pervert.” I think it’s thrown around too much and has a strong shame component. Technically, “perversion” is about engaging in sexual behavior that is considered abnormal and/or pathological. I think it’s helpful to think of our sex drive as unhealthy or maybe destructive, but leave “perverted” off the table. You are man who struggles with something that many (if not most) other men also struggle with. Don’t give up the fight, and don’t beat yourself up as you work on your recovery. Blessings!

  12. Hi, I’m 23 and recently discovered my boyfriend is a pervert. I know someone mentioned they don’t like that tag but that is the only word I can use to describe him right now. I really want him to get help because I can’t take the constant lies and feelings of rejection, humiliation and utter disgust at myself anymore. I’m embarrassed, he’s embarrassed, and now we’ve reached breaking point. If his problem goes on it’s going to destroy our relationship and I’m going to develop my own problems, because it’s absolutely destroying me. I can’t come back to this board to talk but if someone who thinks they could shed a little light and understanding on why men do it I’d love to here from you via email.. suzie.parsons@hotmail.com

  13. Porn blockers on all laptops is a must!

    Does a recovering alcoholic keep alcohol in his refrigerator? Does an addict leave drugs around the house? Des an overeater keep cake in the fridge?

    If no to all, then why would a porn addict leave a laptop/computer lying around which can be readily opened to a porn site in a minute’s time?

    People places and things!

  14. Interesting article, thanks! I’ve subscribed to your website posts. Nice ideas in this blog. I agree. Welcome to Testimonials and Patient Success Stories for Dr. Dalal Akoury. Patients improving from an integrative, functional, regenerative approach, call 843-213-1480
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  15. My one friend was also a porn addict , watched porn daily,sometime 4-5 hours in a day and also do towel raise exercise for straightening of penis , after passing 12th ,he and me join college for further study but there we were used to be busy in study and also had no PC for watching porn,slowly slowly he was getting into depression then and the intensity of it becoming more and more and a day came when he told to me as a best friend” I am becoming mental” . He didn’t knew it was due to addition of porn ( these are the withdrawal symptom of porn addiction) . Then he went to physiatrist and told him everything.t his was the turning point of his recovery. Physiatrist told him” you should no need to worry”and his treatment were started and he was also diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, he had seen the instance withdrawal symptoms for 6 months and paws for 1.5 years and now he am taking the treatment of Bipolar disorder and ok
    If you are going through the same trauma , for help you can contact me on watt’s app at 919990414530

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