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30 DAY PORN FREE CHALLENGE

30 DAYS OF ADVICE TO HELP YOU START YOUR NEW YEAR PORN FREE

What Others Are Saying

  • “These emails have helped me see that my addiction is not hopeless. I have real hope now!”
    - David T.

  • “30 days without porn sounded like something that I could never do … but now here I am experiencing success!”
    - Tom G.

  • “Getting daily reminders and encouragement has helped me so much. Thanks for the shot of inspiration I needed to live free of porn!”
    - Randy S.

  • “These past weeks have been so helpful. Thanks for the daily reminder that life is better without porn in it.”
    - Sue R.

  • “I love getting these emails. It’s such a great way to start off my day and get me focused and on the right path.”
    - Ernesto Y.

Porn Addiction

Porn addiction is one of the most difficult addictions to overcome, but XXXchurch is your resource online for pornography addiction help.
We prevail over sex and porn addiction through awareness, prevention, and recovery. We’ve been helping men, women, and families for over 10 years with free and premium resources all developed to help people find the life they always wanted, a free one.

Do I Have a Porn Addiction?

There are clinical tools that may aid you in addressing this question. They are called “inventories,” a list of questions that help you get a sense of whether your behavior with porn has entered into problematic territory.

While these inventories are helpful and frequently exhaustive in their ability to “diagnose” you (there is no official clinical diagnosis for “porn addiction”) perhaps a better way to determine if you are “addicted” to porn is to ask yourself one simple question: Has my use of pornography adversely affected my close personal relationships, my ability to perform at work, and/or my engagement in activities I have, up to this point, enjoyed in my life?

 So when you ask yourself the question, “Am I addicted to porn?” consider this:

Has my spouse/partner told me that me using porn has hurt him/her and yet I continue to use it?
Have I lost a job or gotten into legal trouble because of my porn use?
Have I spent an inordinate amount of time using porn and missed out on activities I used to find pleasurable?

Maybe an even simpler way to answer the question, “Am I addicted to porn?” is to take a close look at why you are on this webpage and reading these words. Quite possibly you are looking for help. Something isn’t right in your life and your porn use seems to be the symptom through which you are seeking help. Whether or not a clinical tool can tell you conclusively if you are addicted to porn, if you don’t like the fact that you are using it, yet you continue to do so, you are, quite possibly, addicted.

Does My Spouse/Partner Have a Porn Addiction?

Instead of seeking help for yourself, maybe you have come to this web page because you have either discovered that your spouse/partner has a porn addiction, he/she continues to use porn even though you have told him/her that you don’t want him/her to use it, or because you suspect that your spouse/partner is using porn and you don’t know how to address it.

If you have recently discovered that your spouse/partner is using porn or discovered the extent to which your spouse/partner is using porn and it has rattled you, I’m sorry. It is a truly devastating experience to discover that the person to whom you have committed some or all of your life is not the person whom you thought he/she is. First and foremost, you don’t have to go through this experience alone. It’s not your job to fix someone else; however, it is your job to take care of yourself. Include a trusted friend in your experience; seek spiritual guidance from a respected leader; attend a support group; and/or contact a therapist for your own personal work. If you suspect your spouse/partner is using porn or has a porn addiction but don’t know for sure, you do have the option of asking him/her about it. If you are too afraid to ask, feel too intimidated to ask, or are afraid of discovering the truth, that may say more about you and your relationship than it does about your spouse/partner’s suspected pornography use. A healthy relationship with anyone, especially a spouse or committed partner, is based on transparency, honesty, and trust. If your spouse/partner has a difficult time with any of those values, you may want to ask yourself why it is you chose to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect those values. Furthermore, you may want to explore what you can put up with and what you can’t. Don’t forget that this journey called life is yours too and you can make choices. If you’ve been paying attention online for the past few years, you’ll know this has become somewhat of a debate. Some people believe that porn is addictive, while others wonder:

If you suspect your spouse/partner is using or addicted to porn but don’t know for sure, you do have the option of asking him/her about it. If you are too afraid to ask, feel too intimidated to ask, or are afraid of discovering the truth, that may say more about you and your relationship than it does about your spouse/partner’s suspected pornography use. A healthy relationship with anyone, especially a spouse or committed partner, is based on transparency, honesty, and trust. If your spouse/partner has a difficult time with any of those values, you may want to ask yourself why it is you chose to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect those values. Furthermore, you may want to explore what you can put up with and what you can’t. Don’t forget that this journey called life is yours too and you can make choices. If you’ve been paying attention online for the past few years, you’ll know this has become somewhat of a debate. Some people believe that porn is addictive, while others wonder:

A healthy relationship with anyone, especially a spouse or committed partner, is based on transparency, honesty, and trust. If your spouse/partner has a difficult time with any of those values, you may want to ask yourself why it is you chose to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect those values. Furthermore, you may want to explore what you can put up with and what you can’t. Don’t forget that this journey called life is yours too and you can make choices. If you’ve been paying attention online for the past few years, you’ll know this has become somewhat of a debate. Some people believe that porn is addictive, while others wonder: is porn addiction real at all.

And while these are certainly interesting and worthy questions to ask, the better question, though, might be: is porn an addiction that affects you?

Chances are, you’re crossing your fingers that porn isn’t an addiction, and so you typed some words into the internet in the hopes of finding a source to back up your notions. You really, really want the answer to the question “Is porn addiction real?” to be a big fat no.

Or, on the other hand, you may be the type of person who is struggling in a major way with pornography, and you might even think you’re struggling so much that you’re addicted, but then you started wondering if that was even a thing. And so you went searching to find out, “Is there such a thing as porn addiction?” and you’re worried the answer is going to be yes.

Warning Signs of Porn Use or Porn Addiction

That said, warning signs regarding any compulsive or addictive behavior include secrecy and lies and unaccounted for time. Has your spouse/partner had a pattern of lying or deception? Are there periods of time for which your spouse/partner is absent and cannot give a reasonable, or calm rationale for the absence?

Secrecy and lies are the cornerstone of addictive behavior, whatever the behavior may be. An addict feels tremendous shame around his/her addictive behavior and both to mask that shame and to perpetuate the use of his/her substance of abuse he/she will keep his/her behavior very dark.

So ask yourself, is my spouse/partner an open book? Is he/she willing to allow me access to all parts of his/her life? This includes access to his/her computer, phone records, emails. If the answer to these questions is no, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she is using or is addicted to porn, but it certainly means that he/she is hiding an aspect of him/herself around which he/she feels shame.

While it is dangerous to provide blanket symptoms that exhibit pornography addiction, it is common among men who are addicted to pornography to be irritable, have erectile dysfunction (difficulty achieving an erection), avoid sex, or, when having sex, have a desire for increasingly novel forms of it. Only the partners within a relationship could determine what is “novel” in terms of sexual behavior, but if the sexual proclivities of your spouse/partner include increasingly intense and aggressive actions, porn use may be at play.

What Causes Porn Addiction?

There may be many reasons why someone will turn to pornography in order to manage his/her emotional state. On one level it could be something as simple as boredom or a lack of purpose; on another level it could be a symptom of an underlying psychological condition such as depression or even bipolar disorder. It could be because an individual was either physically or sexually abused at some point in his/her life and he/she is unconsciously attempting to gain control over that which he/she, at the time, had so little control.

But let there be no mistake about it, pornography use is purely a mechanism through which a man/woman manages his/her emotional state. And the pernicious thing about pornography use, as is the case with other behavioral addictions like gambling or eating, is the more an individual uses the substance to manage his/her emotional state the more reliant upon the substance the individual becomes. The more reliant on pornography the porn addict becomes the more he/she needs new or novel forms of pornography (i.e. more intense scenarios) in order to achieve the sensation of escape for which he/she is looking. The clinical term for this is “tolerance.”

One can see that there is a “chicken-or-the-egg” dynamic at play here with pornography addiction. Does an addict continue to use pornography to avoid uncomfortable emotional states or does he/she continue to use pornography because he/she has trained his/her brain to continue to use it? Whatever the starting point is for each return to using pornography, there are two factors at play with pornography addiction – the psychological and the physiological.

Watch this video that explains this topic very well.

What Are the Psychological and Physiological Underpinnings of Pornography Addiction?

Again, psychological reasons for using pornography get back to the mind’s desire to avoid uncomfortable emotional states. These states could be a product of many different factors. Why does anyone feel anxiety, anger, or depression? Generally, these emotional states are the brain’s warning signals that the inherent need for human connection has been blocked. Anxiety, anger, or depression are emotional calls alerting the mind and body that if something isn’t done soon a person is going to risk what the mind fears most: loneliness and isolation.

In short, pornography addiction is a sure-tale sign that the addict needs human connection but is intensely afraid of achieving it. This could be a result of childhood experiences where human connection proved to be scary or dangerous (read: abuse) or an essential internal conflict between the person an individual wants to be and the person whom an individual feels he/she should be in order to be accepted by others. In both cases, when the inherent desire for human connection arises – and it always does – pornography is a shortcut toward achieving it.

Of course, pornography is an illusion and isn’t real connection, so when the man/woman using pornography finishes using it, he/she is just as lonely and isolated as before he/she started and, often, is overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and shame for the behavior. So despite frequent commitments to stop using pornography the addict returns to using it to mask the guilt and shame he/she felt for using pornography in the first place. And on and on and on it goes.

What happens physiologically when a man/woman continues to use pornography is a rewiring of an important part of the brain called the reward system. The reward system is a primal part of the brain that helps us remember that which we need for safety and survival. Comfort, warmth, food, sex, or even achievement – all of these positive experiences get imprinted on the reward system so that we will continue to pursue them again. The trouble is, if we are relying on these behavioral rewards as a means of escape from our emotional states, the brain’s physiological response to emotions – even positive emotions like joy or happiness – is to use porn. In short, our brain becomes addicted to being addicted.

How Do I Get Out of Porn Addiction?

Again, there are two parts to this – the psychological and the physiological – and whereas the psychological aspect of porn addiction usually precedes the physiological it is the physiological aspect of porn addiction recovery that usually precedes the psychological. The clinical term for this is “withdrawal.”

During the initial stages of recovery the neurons in the brain that have been developed by compulsively using pornography need to be pruned, that is, cut out or eliminated. As the adage goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it” but, in this case, “losing it” is a good thing. For the addict, the first step in recovery is not to use the substance of abuse for at least 90 days so that the neural pathways can adjust at least enough so that new neurons, and thus new patterns of behavior, can be formed. As the addict’s physiology changes his/her mental clarity begins to reemerge out of the fog of addiction.

Once some clarity can be obtained, the addict may then begin to explore the psychological underpinnings of the addiction. The recovering addict will begin to feel the anxiety, depression, or anger that he/she has been managing through pornography use. He/she will begin to name his/her emotions and learn to manage them in constructive ways, the most constructive of which being through healthy relationships with unconditionally loving others.

What Resources Can Help An Addict Recover?

Any resources that help a recovering pornography addict connect with unconditionally loving others will be resources that will be beneficial to him/her. Unconditional love is the type of love with which many pornography addicts have little or no experience. Unconditional love is the opposite of abuse, neglect, disregard, or shame. It is the type of love that recognizes that everyone is made good despite his/her personal challenges and that change is always a possibility.

All addiction treatment modalities focus on helping addicts to learn to recognize and encounter unconditional love, especially recognize and encounter it within themselves. Recovery is about learning to experience one’s emotional life and manage difficult emotions through relationship rather than isolation. And these difficult emotions could be excitement and joy just as much as anxiety and fear. Recovery means accepting that no matter the circumstances, substance abuse – which includes pornography use – isn’t going to make life any better or more manageable; in fact, it will likely make life worse.

Recovery tools include:

Individual Therapy

Group Therapy

Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) Meetings

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) Meetings

Other peer-led recovery groups (like X3Groups or Small Groups Online)

Rehab

Video Workshops

Individual therapy is always a good starting point in recovery. Seeing a trained professional one-on-one can provide anyone with a safe place to tell the truth about his/her behavior and receive guidance for what additional support and services are available within a given community. Few communities in this day-and-age do not have access to licensed mental health professionals and in many communities group therapy, led by trained professionals, provides an opportunity for connection, guidance, and feedback at much more affordable rates than individual therapy.

As with any addiction, free drop-in recovery groups permeate every city and town. Most communities have Alcoholics Anonymous meetings but SAA and SLAA meetings are becoming more popular, which means that the stigma around sex addiction is beginning to lift. And even some faith-based communities have peer-led meetings that are tailored to given religious beliefs. What you will find in any of these drop-in groups are welcome and accepting individuals in pursuit of one thing – the willingness to change. There is no pressure to share or participate.

For those men and women whose lives have become so completely unmanageable that functioning on a day-to-day basis due to the effects of their behavior with porn is impossible, rehab is always an option. Rehabilitation centers allow clients an opportunity to take a break from the life they have been living up to that point and gain very pointed and specific tools that will enable them to remain sober and functioning. Some rehabs will take clients on an out-patient basis (i.e. clients don’t live in the facility). In-patient rehabs have varying time commitments. Some allow clients to stay for a week; other rehabs have six-month options.

How Do I Tell My Spouse/Partner That I Have a Problem With Pornography Use?

As noted, the cornerstone of addiction recovery is truth and honesty. No, telling your spouse/partner that you have an uncontrollable pattern of pornography use will not be easy. A number of things may happen. You may be overwhelmed by grace. You may be overwhelmed by judgment. Your spouse/partner may remain by your side or he/she will leave you. No matter what the outcome will be, the truth must come out if you are to live a meaningful and integrated existence…for yourself.

Yes, it may prove best to include a third party in this process. Again, therapists or other mental health professionals in your community are a great asset for truth-telling. If you are a part of a strong faith community and you trust your congregation’s leaders, involve them. You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, to do this alone is to miss the point as addiction recovery is about learning that other people can be safe places. Some people are willing to and capable of help. Some people, the right people, are there for both you and your spouse/partner.

As an addiction therapist I have found that while truth and honesty is often a difficult road on which to walk, it is the road on which we will find ourselves, our true selves. Truth and honesty is the “great corrector” of your life. In telling the truth and being honest an incredible thing happens – you discover the person you were meant to be not the false version that you were masquerading as, often for many years.

How Can I Help My Spouse/Partner?

Please remember, in the end, it is not your responsibility as a spouse/partner to do for your spouse/partner what he/she must do for him/herself. Again, you can set boundaries with what you can and cannot put up with. Beyond that, it is your spouse/partner’s responsibility to live in a way that brings trust and dignity to the relationship just as it is your responsibility to bring trust and dignity to the relationship. You are not your spouse/partner’s mother or father and you are not a police detective. There is nothing trusting or dignified about putting yourself into those roles.

If your spouse/partner doesn’t want help and actively resists change of any kind, the best thing you can do for yourself, or for your spouse/partner for that matter, is to take good care of yourself. That could mean a number of things. It could mean that you remain in the relationship out of commitment; it could mean that you take a break from the relationship; it could mean that you leave the relationship. In each of those scenarios the common denominator is you taking care of yourself.

It is an accepted principle that when one person in a relationship changes it requires the other person in that relationship to change as well. By nature, humans are interdependent, reliant, as I noted, on connection, even if that connection is maintained through unhealthy tactics such as domination, threats (both passive and active), or avoidance.

To look at the ways in which you yourself maintain a connection with your spouse/partner out of fear of losing that connection means you come face to face with your own co-dependency and challenges you with standing on your own two feet. If you want your spouse/partner to change and he/she is resistant, the best thing for you to do is to change yourself. If you no longer need a connection that is built on fear he/she must look at the ways in which he/she is doing the same thing.

This may mean that you begin to recognize the ways in which you may unconsciously need your spouse/partner to be addicted in order to meet your own underlying need for connection. With this in mind, if your spouse/partner does want help and does want to change, you will need to accept that while you are not responsible for your spouse’s choices, you may have picked someone like him/her because of your own unconscious conflicts.

What Is The Recovery Journey Like?

The truth about addiction recovery is that it is not just the addict who needs to change; it is the whole system (family structure) in which the addict lives that needs to change. In essence, as the addict recovers he/she individuates, that is, he/she becomes his/her own person capable of speaking his/her mind, sharing emotions, and, in the end, managing those emotions in constructive ways. His/her spouse/partner will need to be able to not only do the same, but also be able to tolerate that kind of vulnerability in her spouse/partner.

It is a common adage in recovery circles that whatever the addict puts in front of his/her recovery he/she will lose. This means that if the addict thinks that going to recovery meetings, therapy, or taking time to do recovery-related work (like journaling or 12-step work) takes too much time away from spending time with his/her family, job, or other activities, the truth is that he/she will likely relapse and lose all of those things because of his/her behavior. With this in mind, space and time need to be given to the recovering addict and in that time, the addict’s spouse/partner will need to do the same work for him/herself.

To change means the addict begins to look at that part of him/herself that is frightening to look at and he/she begins to make peace with that part of him/herself. To change means that life gets reconfigured into something that is life giving and life breathing. To change is to be a blessing to the people and world around you. On the other side of addiction is the discovery of one’s true self. Addiction recovery can be a beautiful process, a discovery and awakening of the spirit for both the addict and everyone else in his/her life.

Pornography Addiction Statistics

We have many statistics regrading porn addiction and porn use. You can find them all here.

But below are some of the most significant ones:

  • 10% of adults admitting to internet sexual addiction
  • 64% of American men who report they view porn at least monthly
  • 17% of all women struggle with pornography addiction
  • 90% of 8- to 16-year-olds having viewed pornography online
  • 51% of pastors say Internet pornography is a possible temptation
  • 40 million U.S. adults who regularly visit internet pornography websites

Don’t be a statistic. Get help today.


Note: This information has been provided by Steven Luff, M.Div, MA is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Since 2008 he has led sexual addiction recovery groups affiliated with XXXchurch.com. These groups initiated out of Oasis Church in Los Angeles and now reside at Ecclesia Church in Hollywood. Steven is the co-author of Pure Eyes: a Man’s Guide to Sexual Integrity and is the creator of the X3Pure 30-Days to Purity on-line recovery program. Currently, he sees clients and blogs for the Faith and Sex Center in Los Angeles, CA – www.faithandsexcenter.com.

 

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