My 7 Steps to Recovery From Pornography Addiction

By the time I realized that I had a serious problem with pornography I was spending around 40 hours a week, an equivalent of a full time job, watching porn. My personal relationship was almost ruined, and I was a psychological mess.

1. My girlfriend kept complaining

My first major breakthrough happened because my girlfriend kept on complaining that something was different about me. I remember that I used to get angry with her, thinking that she didn’t realize how good she had it. I would think that all men cheated, and I was just watching porn.

As I progressed farther into my addiction, I couldn’t help but notice a series of negative events that began to take place in my life. I was struggling to keep up with school, I was always late and tired, I was always down, and it felt like the only true thing that I enjoyed in life was pornography. When I watched it I was happy… Everyday life would just annoy me with its inconveniences… I knew that I wanted to have a good job and a family, but getting there was just too hard.

One day I was watching pornography in my car, when I realized that I was late for my test. I closed my laptop and ran off. When I came back I found my car broken into, and my laptop gone. That evening my friend and I went to a strip club to help me feel better. My friend soon got tired and wanted to go home, but I couldn’t get myself to walk away. Observing the consequences of my actions and my inability to walk away, forced me to suspect that may be there was something was wrong with me after all.

I do not remember how I came to find out about the work of Dr. Carness, but I remember that I went to my school library trying to check out a book by Dr. Carness called, “Out of the shadows”(Sponsored Link). The book was already checked out, and I got another book by the same author titled, “Don’t Call It Love(Sponsored Link). I remember reading this book, and realizing that I could connect with almost every story.

I reviewed all of the things that I did as a teenager. How I choose to cope with my daily struggles, and that sex and pornography were the only places where I could find comfort. After reading this book, I knew I had a problem. Shortly after confessed my discovery to my girlfriend. She was terrified, but decided to stay with me and to support me through my recovery. This was my first major breakthrough.

2. Feed the Right Wolf

Just a few years before I discovered that I had sex addiction I was able to quit smoking. I’ve quit cold turkey and decided to use the same approach once again. I tried using my will power for a while, and the longest period of sobriety I was able to achieve was 2 weeks. After that I would slip every time, tell myself that I did it anyway might as well enjoy it, and indulge in long periods of acting out.

I finally had enough after about a year of trying and failing. I remember my last two slip ups before my second major breakthrough. By then I was seeing a therapist and had an internet filter installed on my laptop. The filter did little to stop my behaviors since I knew the password, and would turn it off when I wanted to act out. One night, after 3-4 hour of pornography watching I went to relieve myself, saw my red face in the mirror, and began to cry saying that I was sorry… I cried for a while, and then went to watch more porn to make myself feel better. I repeated this cycle two more times before I was able to cry myself to sleep.

Right around that time, I friend of mine sent me a documentary that concluded with a story that an old Cherokee told to his grand son.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.

“One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

About two days after this I was spending a weekend at my mother’s house, where I’ve spent another 5-6 hours watching pornography, using my sister’s laptop, while my grandmother was next door. That is when I finally had enough. I realized that I really had to do something differently if I wanted to stop my behaviors. I wrote out a list of all the things that I could do to feed my right wolf.

My list included monitoring my emotions, eating healthy, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, doing daily cardio exercise, meditation, and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) techniques that I’ve learned from the book titled “Kill the Craving(Sponsored Link). I think learning ERP techniques and making the daily practice of my preventive measures was my second major breakthrough.

Note: Since then I have shared my approach of feeding the right wolf with many others, and received a very positive response. You can view a detailed description of this approach as well as download free handout material at the following post “ERP-Break Out of your Addictive Cycle“.

3. You can’t do it alone

My approach of feeding the right wolf worked and I was able to stay sober for a month. I began noticing that I was getting sloppy on my daily practices and that I needed more of a professional help. After some research I signed up for Candeo Can program. I was in Candeo Can program for about 4 months and by that time I was able to sustain from pornography viewing for close to 5 months.

The problem, however, nested in the fact that I slowly stopped relying on healthy outlets to deal me with my daily problems. I thought that as long as I was not viewing pornography my other problems would take care of themselves, which was not the case. Soon I found myself spending all of my free time on non-sex related websites, and watching TV. Essentially I was using these media for the same purposes that I’ve used pornography before – to escape reality. Towards the end of the fourth month I began to watch a lot of rated R horror movies, because I knew I was very likely to find some nudity there, and the horror part gave me an additional jolt.

Then summer came around and I began to notice a lot of attractive women on the street. I knew that lusting after women was bad, but I used to tell to myself that it was OK to “admire their beauty”. Soon my old spiral begin to unwrap and I noticed myself slipping further and further back into my addiction.

At the same time all other areas of my life began to fall apart as well. I found myself in debt, I began to argue more with my girlfriend, and my school work was falling behind. I was so mad at Candeo Can program. They’ve “told me” that if I were to stop watching pornography my life would be back in order, I did stop, but my life was still a mess. I thought they lied to me, and I felt cheated out. (To be fair to Candeo Can program, they did warn me about all those things that were taking place, and I failed to listen to their advice). I felt powerless and began reading twelve step literature which I consider to be my third breakthrough.

4. Honesty is the best policy

The hardest part of my third breakthrough was coming clean to my girlfriend. I knew how much pain it would cause her, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. But I also couldn’t think of any other way. I wasn’t watching pornography, but one day I mad a leap from watching a horror movie with nudity, to finding a way around filter and googling a video that I knew would have explicit nudity in it.

After the nudity event, however, I could no longer lie to myself that I was sober, and I came clean to my girlfriend. She was crushed. She thought we were doing so well, she was so happy with the progress that she thought I was making, and all of the sadden it all was scratched. Her world was turned upside down, and I was again to blame for it. This night I took my first of the twelve steps (of sex addicts anonymous) and admitted that I was powerless over my addiction. This happened 3 month ago. And it was my fourth breakthrough.

5. More Work

Since then I went back to the drawing board, and had to re-think all the things that worked and did not work for me. I finally got myself to read the rest of the books on the pornography addiction that I’ve purchased a long time ago. I’ve learned a lot of new stuff from them, and gained some very good perspectives.

I started attending two 12 steps meeting on a regular basis. I now have friends and a lot of support in my recovery. I also learned a great value of proper journaling and how it can be beneficial to my recovery. Candeo Can taught me to journal, but I wasn’t doing it properly, “Treating Pornography Addiction” gets the credit for that.

Through proper journaling I was able to identify most of the triggers and internal lies that I was tell myself through my life. Until today I am journaling daily and keep finding new stuff that have been pre programmed into my head. I work on replacing those lies with the positive things that I do want in my life and believe in from the bottom of my heart. Journaling and attending 12 step groups was my fifth breakthrough.

6. Meditate

Even though I was doing well, there was one thing that kept on bothering me that I did not yet have an answer to. I kept feeling that emptiness inside me, that I did not know how to fill.

I remember when I was a sophomore in high school we had an alcoholic come to give us a speech about the dangers of alcohol. She went on to say that all her life she felt shyness, unhappiness, and emptiness inside, and finally found something that could fill it – alcohol. She told us, that it was a mistake and that we shouldn’t use alcohol to fix our problems, and that it was not a solution. But she never told us what the solution was. Since then I’ve been struggling with this question- “What CAN I use to fill this emptiness inside of me?”, and couldn’t find an answer.

Having had a few alcoholics in my family, I knew that alcohol and drugs was not the solution. That is why, I believe, I turned to sex and pornography instead. I believed it was a healthy way out. It was a way out alright, but I now know that it was far from healthy.

About a month ago I accidentally bought a book on Amazon that was about 115 pages long and titled “The Practicing Mind(Sponsored Link), I have no memory of making that decision, but it must have been due to all of the positive reviews that this book got. For some reason this simple book, has answered the big question, that I couldn’t find the answer too in other hundreds of self help books that I’ve read throughout my life. The answer was very simple, but It would probably require a separate post. For now I will say that my problems mainly came from me being focused on results and not on the process. The approach of always seeking more and more results created a feeling of emptiness and constant dissatisfaction. This was my sixth breakthrough.

7. Complete Transparency

Even with all this new gained knowledge, I still found myself falling back into all habits. I would keep on tricking myself into believing that I could “accidentally” see something exciting, and it would be OK because after all it was an “accident”. I would also tell myself that my girlfriend would never know, because these were just innocent websites, that I used for “almost” innocent purposes.

This line of thinking was happening at the subconscious level, and I was able to identify it and bring it to the surface through journaling. This knowledge helped me to take a final step that I knew I needed to take a long time ago – use of accountability software.

I taught my girlfriend how to check my web history inside the filter on my computer, and she goes through it every week now, to help me stay honest. I used a program called Covenant Eyes, I would highly recommend it to those aiming to take their recovery to the next level.

This was my seventh and final breakthrough so far. I am sure I will have more to come. But in two days I will be completely and honestly sober for five weeks, and I am very thankful for it. It is important for me to remember that the amount of time I stay sober is just a number, a simple by-product of the PROCESS of being sober that I enjoy so much – one moment at a time.

Call (916)259-3827 For Professional Help

P.S. Recommended Resources:

  • Sex Addicts Anonymous
    I cannot imagine my recovery without this program.
  • Mindful Habit Course by Coach Craig
    Great advice from a great person.
  • Free Podcast and Mini Course from Candeo Can
    I owe my first 90 days of continuous sobriety to this program and highly recommend it.
  • Internet Accountability Software
    Using this software allowed me to get truly honest with my internet usage for the first time in my life. For some reason knowing that my every step was being observed and reported on, made it really easy to use internet only in a healthy way.
  • Treating Pornography Addiction by Kevin B. Skinner Ph.D.
    I have read over 15 books on Pornography and Sexual addiction and this truly is one of the best books on the subject. The reason is I recommend this particular book is because it is full of excellent actionable steps. Other books do a good job describing the problem, but don’t really offer a realistic solution.
  • Your Sexually Addicted Spouse – How Partners Can Cope and Heal by Barbara Steffens Ph.D.
    I know that about half of visitors to our site are spouses of people who might be suffering with pornography and sex addiction. To the best of my knowledge this book is one of the most helpful books for the partners.
  • Free Consultation from Coach Craig
    Coach Craig has been a good friend and supporter of this site since January 2013. He has worked with people from all over the world, including famous musicians and other high profile individuals. Yet, he is only a phone call away and would be glad to give you a free consultation. Call him anytime, with any question you might have, and I am know he will be extremely happy to help in any way he can.

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Comments

  1. Dave says

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m struggling in the same issue and I understand your pain. Because of this issue I don’t see myself living to the full potential. I was doing well in my studies, traveled the world, been a leader in my community and that only lasted for some time. My sexual addiction overpowers me and does not allow me to live a fulfilling life of happiness I desire, or any of us. I have started a recovery program called http://www.celebraterecovery.com/ It has helped me to stay focused and sober. I am starting to enjoy life. (There is also a cool movie that came out about Sexual Addiction check it out its called “Thanks For Sharing”)

  2. Anonymous says

    Hi Alex. Thank you for sharing. I am 14 years old and going into freshman year of high school. I have had this porn problem since the fourth grade. It started out slow but when we upgraded to high speed internet, it started to pick up some speed. Then i got a mobile device with internet capabilities and boy i was on the fast track. But come freshman year, i will be taking four ap classes, so i wont have time for porn. Also, i would like to start a healthy relationship but that is impossible to do on top of a porn addiction. Your article really helped me. Thank you again.

  3. says

    Hi I am 14 years old and I have a pornography and masturbation problem. I have looked all over the Internet for solutions and this helped. You probably won’t find this comment but I ask you to please message me back so we can talk. My problem is I have screwed up the worse way possible in life. Will explain more if someone messages me. Thanks.

  4. Victor says

    Alex,
    Thanks for sharing, i’ve had this problem since i was under 18, though i tried ending it, turning 18 gave me an excuse to tell myself it’s legitimate. Your site has been a great help to me, i believe i can get control of my life again, thanks.

  5. says

    I am only 15 years old and have been searching for a solution for my addiction for what feels like forever now (maybe the past month and a half) and I would like to thank you for posting this. I am trying hard, though, please pray for me

  6. kamran says

    That emty feeling inside you is your design. That is how god safe you, that empty feeling will never go away un till you fill it with gods worship..
    Its design is to worship god only but we trick it and give some other fake habit or addiction…. If you don't believe me try it..also your other problems will disappear at the same time.

  7. Anonymous says

    I would not recommend anybody younger than 18 years old trying to find a solution on your own.

    I understand that it is hard to find courage to talk to somebody else about what you might consider to be an embarrassing problem, but I want to re-assure you most of the people have gone through what you are going through and will understand.

    Just find any adult that you can trust (grandmother, teacher, uncle) and tell them about what is going on with you. They should be able to point you into the right direction. If that is not available try calling one of the national hotline for this list

  8. Anonymous says

    Wait wait wait wait, i'm 12, I got this problem, and I hate myself, I haven't got a credit card and i'm too embarrassed to tell ANYONE,even right now i'm on this site using incognito browsing which clears my history after i close the browser. So what am I supposed to do. I'm one hundred percent sure there is a way of thinking i can try thinking so that i can stop ON MY OWN but someone just needs to tell me that way of thinking or I have to discover it. Any help?

  9. FeedTheRightWolf says

    For teens I recommend finding an adult you can trust and telling them about your potential problem.

    A lot of your" problems" can be not as abnormal as you might think, but you will need help of the professional to sort this out.

  10. Anonymous says

    Hello my name is Elder Fulford, God has lead me to start a prayer group online called Front Line Warriors International. We meet every Saturday on a conference call at 1130am central just dial 1-712-432-1630 x271409# We pray for all types of addictions and bondages. You can call in anonymously or announce yourself and tell us what you want deliverance from. You can also email us your request. We handle all request with seriousness, confidentially and with the Love of Christ. You can join our group at http://www.ccc357.com or send a email to royalcity12@gmail.com
    We all have a past and a struggle but God is able to deliver and set us free. Peace and stay encouraged. You can make it!!

  11. Anonymous says

    Hi, thank you for your sharing.

    Sometimes I wonder if it is not the pornography and stuff that 'is bad' but the feelings that go with it, like the greed for pleasure and distraction rather than allowing your imagination to expand (which I believe can happen while watching pron with the right attitude.)

    But all that theory aside, I know how things go when you wire your brain in the wrong way long enough.. Might be necessary to throw the good out with the bad to alter the synapse pathways that burn in as you develop a habit.

    But basically I was writing to say I don't think you 'are bad' for watching porn even when you 'mess up' … We are all odd ducks in life. Choices can amount to style and if you wanna upgrade that is awesome, but don't feel down on people who don't- even if that person happens to be you at a certain moment!

    Also, I'm using chrome and your website seems ungodly slow.. Chrome says "waiting for paypal" in the status bar…

  12. Heyyou says

    Hi,

    This an inspiring story of recovery and I also applaud the author for working to add more tools of healing and recovery to the world!

    He mentioned his friend in the article who is plagued with shyness and I wanted to pass along a 12 Step program that has assisted me greatly with my own shyness or 'social anxiety' issues (and yes that problem can create a lot of aloneness, isolation and emptiness). Anyway it's called Social Anxiety Anonymous and they have great (and very gentle) support groups (by telephone and in person) as well as really good literature on gently overcoming shyness and social anxiety

  13. porntopurity says

    Hey Alex,

    Jeff Fisher from http://www.porntopurity.com

    I stumbled on your site today. It's great to see you being real and sharing your struggles with the community. My wife and I have been working on our own recovery for the last few years.

    I just wanted to say Hi. I look forward to your future content.

  14. FeedTheRightWolf says

    Hi everybody and that you for your responses.

    @Luke, I will make sure to write about my experience if I will make a switch. Thanks.

    @3rd Anonymous, I've added SAFE Ministries to the list of recommended blogs. Thank you

  15. Anonymous says

    Alex,
    Since RT is a mutual friend, I added you on Facebook. Very interesting blog – I appreciate your honesty. I was a pornographer as well, and understand the bondage it can keep us in. I also appreciate the blog post you have with the reference materials and other sites – good job, man! In my counseling practice, we have given up on the 12-step programs – for a number of reasons – but primarily because we found something that brings true transformation to a person's life. If anyone is interested, check out SAFE Ministries. The success rate for those who complete the one-year prgram is over 90%! Blessings to you as you get the word out, brother.

  16. Anonymous says

    Thanks for sharing and being so honest. I myself do not have a pornography addiction but my husband does. Continue to be open and honest with your girlfriend. That is one thing my husband and I are working on and helps me the most even though it hurts. I go to sanon and it is fantastic. I would recommend mend it to your girlfriend. I had to learn that this isn't my problem and not to blame him for the way I feel. I have been able to learn to cope with his addiction and help support him through this long process. Thanks for adding me and I will pray for you guys. Please pray for us as well.

  17. Anonymous says

    hey alex. I am Dabiel and I thank you for adding me on your facebook. I myself am struggling to come out of the pit of not just pornorgraphy, but masturbation and immoral fantasies as well. I read some of your post on pornorgraphy addiction and I understand your struggles. The Bible says that we are dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 Dead men do not respond to the light of God, neither are we capable or obedience. But Jesus said "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: " Dear friend if you have not given your life to Jesus Christ and drank of his fountain of forgiveness and cleansing, I pray that today be the day of your salvation. Your friend-Daniel Lim

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