In the mid-1990s, I found very little information on the internet to aid my own personal struggle with pornography addiction. However, through therapy and study, I developed a personal plan that helped me begin to break free of the addiction. I wrote up my plan and, thinking it might be useful to others, I posted it online.

Something surprising happened: I began to get email from people all over the world telling me how helpful the article was. That was the beginning of No-porn.com. Soon, the website grew into a thriving community of men and women helping one another on our Support Board.

Although most of us have learned a great deal more than what this original article teaches, we keep it posted here because it has helped so many take those first daring steps into sobriety. For a more thorough understanding of porn addiction and recovery, I hope that you will consider reading " Ten Keys to Breaking Pornography Addiction." While the following essay was written early in my personal journey, " Ten Keys " reflects my experiences ten years later and I believe will be an even more powerful tool in your recovery efforts.


Breaking Pornography Addiction:
A Plan for Personal Success

©1997 Lightwave Resources LLC, www.no-porn.com. No reproduction of this article, except for private and personal use, may be made including electronic or paper reproduction without the express written consent of the author.

 

Introduction

You have an addiction. It isn't a public addiction, like alcoholism. With alcoholism, the last person to know he is an alcoholic is the alcoholic. Support groups exist for alcoholics. If you go to Alcoholics Anonymous, people support you because they know you are seeking help.

But you are addicted to pornography, and pornography addiction is a secret thing. You may be the only one who knows you are addicted. If you went to a support group for pornography addicts, and your friends found out, or if your spouse found out, they might be very disappointed in you. You might hurt feelings, break hearts. Friends and family probably don't know you're addicted to pornography. They probably think you're a fine, upstanding, loving man. You know what? They're probably right.

You see, pornography addicts come from all walks of life. They're blue collar laborers and white collar executives; they're handsome and they're homely; they're Christian, Jewish, and atheist; they're all races and creeds. They're single, they're married and they're fathers. They can be lazy couch potatoes, and they can be diligent community volunteers.

Some want to control their addiction and some do not.

You want to control your addiction.

I say "control" your addiction, because you need to realize you will never "eliminate" your addiction -- you will always be addicted. When I refer to breaking your addiction, I mean it in the same sense you might break a horse. Breaking a horse means you gain control over it -- it submits to your will. You don't take it out and shoot it.

You're like a diabetic. Diabetes won't go away (at least no one has found a cure yet), but it can be controlled.

"But that's not fair," you say. "Why do I have this addiction?" It isn't fair. Diabetes isn't fair either. It's just one of cool stuff about hidden object game downloads the inconveniences of being human. Some people get it, some people don't. But just because you get it, doesn't mean you should give in to it. And you've got pornography addiction. You always will -- it won't go away. But you can control it. And by control, I don't mean you can reduce the amount of pornography you look at. I mean you can stop looking at, listening to, or seeking out pornography all together. But it is going to take effort. It is going to take commitment. It is going to take resolution that you won't give up, no matter how discouraging it gets. It is going to take prayer. It is going to take time.

Most addicts have been controlled by pornography most of their lives. That's a lot of programming to overcome. In fact, you may want to seek professional counseling for your addiction. The only challenge with counseling is that some therapists don't have the experience to help you, and many do not even think you need help. Many professionals don't consider pornography addiction a problem. Certainly not to the degree that you understand it to be. Oh, and one more thing: professionals can cost $125 an hour.

So I'm writing this little brochure because I think it can help you. It's short. It's to the point. It contains what has worked for me, and I hope and pray it works for you. You see, I'm addicted to pornography too. But I was lucky; after years of praying and searching, I found a counselor who understood my desire to control my addiction. Like me, he believed that at the very least, pornography made it difficult to get close to God and to live the type of happy life I was seeking.

It's taken several years, hundreds of dollars in therapy fees and lots of prayer, but today I am in more control than I have ever been. Using what I have learned from my therapist and incorporating my own experience, I have developed a very simple plan that helps me get through each day, one day at a time. I hope it can help you.

Dealing with the Guilt

Chances are, you are probably extremely hard on yourself. Your addiction can be discouraging, and can seriously damage your self-esteem. You may go for a few weeks or months without a problem, and then -- Whammo! -- you fall in the hole again. And when you're in a hole, it's easy to feel very worthless.

All I can say is, don't beat yourself up! You aren't perfect. God knows what you are trying to accomplish here. You are trying to overcome an addiction, an addiction that didn't develop overnight. Don't expect to gain control over your addiction overnight. I didn't develop my plan in one day; I developed my plan after years of trying, failing and learning. Give yourself a break.

Think of it this way. You are taking steps to change your life for the better. You are going to feel closer to God during this process of change than you have in a long time. As you prayerfully seek his assistance in changing your life, you might also ask him to help you keep your progress in perspective. Are you seeking out pornography every day? Then going two days without seeking it out is a major accomplishment! Recognize that, because God certainly does.

He wants you to succeed, and he'll help you get to the point where you have control of your life again. But right now, he knows your weaknesses. He loves you more than you can understand, despite your mistakes.

Being clean three days does not excuse sinning on the fourth, but you need to understand that you have actually accomplished something positive. And you can do much better next time.

My personal plan helps me focus on the goal, much more than on the problem. That's why it works for me, and I hope it works for you. I think it will. When you focus on a goal, and reward your own successes, you are going to experience an increased sense of self worth. Determine at the outset that when you occasionally stumble (because you will -- at first), you will pick yourself up and not give up. Your own plan might need some adjustments, but DON'T GIVE UP! If you've been addicted ten years, it's going to take a long time to change patterns. Start again, one day at a time.

Each day that you succeed will increase your self worth, and give you added strength to succeed tomorrow. So don't worry about succeeding tomorrow. Just worry about succeeding today, and rewarding yourself tonight.

Controlling Your Thoughts

Pornography addiction begins in your mind. Some people think about it and some people don't. For many people, pornography doesn't interest them, just like auto mechanics or gardening might not interest you. But for the pornography addict, pornography is extremely interesting.

You might not be someone who spends a lot of time thinking lustful thoughts. Lustful thoughts can certainly increase your desire to find pornography. But that might not be your particular spark.

Maybe you associate feelings of insecurity or loneliness with sex. Some people, when they're feeling lonely, turn to masturbation or pornography. Such simulated sex makes them feel un-lonely, at least for a little while. If that's your situation, you need to realize that loneliness is part of life. Even the most happily married man in the world feels lonely once in a while.

Create an action plan for the times you are alone. Learn to enjoy being alone. Do housework, or study, or exercise. Get out of the house and get your heart pumping. Don't worry about whether you'll be tempted again when you get back. You're not exercising to keep from seeking out pornography -- you're exercising because you enjoy it, you are alone and now is the perfect opportunity.

Find things you love to do, that you can do when you're alone.

Controlling your thoughts is like driving down the freeway. Have you ever driven at a high speed and suddenly heard your tires thumping over the reflectors on the lane's dividing line? You hadn't noticed yourself swerving out of your lane, but now you hear the warning of the bumps under your tires. So what do you do? Probably, without even thinking, you correct your steering and pull away from the line.

That's what you are trying to do with your thoughts. Whenever you get in a situation that might tempt you to indulge in pornography, you need to make adjustments in your thinking and actions to get you away from danger. At first that will take a great deal of effort, but as your instincts improve, you'll find yourself steering clear of hazards with hardly any thought at all.

Let's say you are staying in a hotel that offers adult programming on television. Well, most hotels also allow you to disconnect adult programming. You probably need to call the front desk the moment you arrive in your room and ask them to disconnect the service. Even though you aren't tempted when you arrive, late at night you might be, and you want to make sure it is unavailable. You may have to do the same thing 20 years from now, even though it's been two decades since you've sought out pornography -- remember, you're an addict; you will always be addicted. You will always have to take precautions.

You are an addict. You have a disease. You have to take efforts every day to avoid pornography. Maybe you have to cancel your Internet account.

There are things that you aren't strong enough to resist. You'll get stronger and wiser, but right now you may have to deny yourself some things. Listen to your thoughts. Are you rationalizing? Pay attention to the things you rationalize -- they're probably the very areas where you are weakest.

Fill your mind with something uplifting when you catch an unpleasant thought creeping onto the stage of your mind. Maybe you can sing a favorite song to yourself, or recite an inspiring poem, scripture or quote.

Just remember, every day for the rest of your life, you need to actively resist pornography. So, here is my plan.

One Day at a Time

Start today. My plan works best if you start today and don't put it off. Make sure you have gotten rid of any pornography in your home. Throw it out. If it's around, you will fail. Remember, right now you are weak. You have to resist each day.

When you've finished reading this paper and understand the plan, take time to pray. You need to appeal to a higher power if you hope to succeed. Prayer draws you closer to God and will give you extra strength. In fact, at times God will come to your aid and intervene to protect you if he knows you are sincerely trying and depending on him.

Don't worry that you don't feel worthy to talk with God. He still wants you to pray to him. So, if you aren't a praying person, why not give it a try? And if you feel like you've come to him so many times already, let him know that you have a new plan, and you want his help in accomplishing it.

In your own words, explain to God that you're addicted to pornography, and that you will do everything you can to control your addiction, but that you need his help to make up the difference.

Now, determine how much you can afford to pay yourself each day. Fifty cents? A dollar? Two dollars? It depends on your personal budget, but what you are doing is saving for a big reward. Pay yourself each day that you avoid pornography.

Your goal is to give yourself something great after your first 100 days. And it needs to be something totally extravagant that you would never spend money on otherwise. Maybe its in-line skates or a day of skiing.

Your goal will increase. Your first goal is to go 100 days. After you've made it, your next goal will be to reward yourself after 250 days. And then reward yourself once a year. So each year you will have $365 to spend on something purely fun.

Every night, after I say my prayers, I take a one dollar bill out of an envelope I keep in my sock drawer, and put it in my bank. It's a great feeling. Every once in a while I take the money out of the bank and count it. That's how many days I've gone without seeking pornography. And I keep a tally of when I spend it so I know when I've gone more than a year in a row successfully.

But what happens when you fail? Well, you have to give the money away. Pick a charity. Maybe it's your church, maybe it's your political party, maybe it's a local arts group or a service organization. But pick a charity. When you fail, you're going to send them all the money in your bank.

AND THEN YOU ARE GOING TO START AGAIN!

That's all there is to it. That's my plan.

•  Eliminate all the pornography in your home

•  Pray for help

•  Determine how much you can afford to save each day

•  Pick a reward for yourself after the first 100 days

•  Make or buy a bank to save your money in

•  Pay yourself each day that you successfully avoid pornography

•  If you stumble, give all the money in your bank to your favorite charity

•  After 100 days of success, reward yourself

•  After the next 250 days, reward yourself

•  Reward yourself each subsequent year for the rest of your life

Don't beat yourself up when you stumble. Remember that what you are trying to accomplish is a major undertaking. You can do it. And as you progress, God will bless your life with incredible joy. You will become more self-disciplined, and you will be happier than you have ever been. God bless us all with success.