Overcoming pornography addiction begins with being totally honest about your addiction and exposing the lies.
Addicts will often lie to themselves and others and hide their behaviors. This is done to maintain their addiction and to hide their
shame. One of my clients, Josh, would downplay the seriousness of his addiction by telling him self that it was just “harmless adult entertainment.” He would also try to
convince himself that it wasn’t as bad as drugs or alcohol. Because he wasn’t actually going out and having sex with women, he tried to convince himself that it wouldn’t hurt his girlfriend, Karen, very much.
He was wrong on all three counts.
He hid his addiction by only using his smart phone to view pornography and engage in phone sex. Getting a high credit card bill was his wakeup call. He knew he had to be totally honest about his addiction and take full responsibility for it if he ever hoped to be free.
When a person is trapped in an addiction, his life becomes unmanageable. He is forced to keep a dark secret and his life is filled with shame because of it. There is always the fear of someone finding him out. He may present himself to family, friends and colleagues as a healthy, competent person, yet deep down he feels like a hypocrite. He knows he’s a phony. He lives his life by the five faulty core beliefs.
Five Faulty Core Beliefs
1. I’m unworthy of being loved.
2. If people really knew me, they would reject me.
3. I can’t count on anyone, including God, to meet my needs.
4. I must find something that I can control that will meet my needs.
5. Pornography/sex is my greatest need and source of comfort.
Breaking out of this cycle begins with being honest and admitting how unmanageable the addiction has made your life. In Sexaholics Anonymous (SA), the
twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have been modified. They have replaced the work “alcohol” with “lust.” Thus, Step 1 of SA reads: “We admitted we were
powerless over lust, that our lives had become unmanageable. This is a crucial step in recovery.
For Josh, there was always the fear that Karen would ask to borrow his smart phone and then discover his Internet and phone sex activity. Or, she would find out by looking at one of his credit card statements. He also feared that his family, friends and colleagues would somehow learn of his addiction. The constant fear, guilt and shame made his life unmanageable and fed his core beliefs.
Stepping into the light
Being honest about your addiction takes it out of the darkness and brings it into the light. This decreases the power of the addiction. It can also help to reduce the shame that prevents a person from getting help.
While it was difficult to open up about his addiction, Josh discussed it with his therapist, confessor, and finally Karen. The hardest part was facing Karen’s hurt and disappointment. However, he knew that if he ever wanted to have a healthy relationship with her, he must face the truth about his addiction and be honest with her.
Some people early in recovery might want to tell everyone they know about their addiction. This is unwise. In the beginning, I recommend telling only a few people with whom you feel safe. This can include a therapist, priest, deacon, support group, close friend, and of course your spouse. These are people who can support you through the recovery process. Once you have experienced several months of healthy recovery, you can tell others.
While being honest about your addiction and taking responsibility for it can be scary, know that God is with you every step of the way. He not only wants you to be free of pornography, he wants to transform you into the person he created you to be.
Don’t Lose Hope
It’s important to remember this because there will be falls along the way. Don’t lose hope or become discouraged. If you fall, get up and keep moving. God will put loving people in your life that will help you. In John 8:31-32 we read, “Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’” This applies to finding freedom from addiction. When we are truthful about ourselves, our addictions, and our need for help, we can live in God’s light and he will set us free.