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How to Stop Watching Porn For Good - Gentle Path

How to Stop Watching Porn For Good

Written By: Beau Black

Addiction to pornography is an epidemic that’s not often talked about for many reasons. Between the ubiquity of online porn, most guys’ reluctance to talk about personal struggles, and popular culture that’s embraced porn, it has quietly become as accepted as it is destructive. 

For many boys, initial exposure to pornography used to come via their dad’s Playboy collection, or their older brother’s, or their friend’s dad’s. But the internet has changed that. The ready availability of porn on a variety of platforms and on any computer/tablet/phone makes it easy for most people to access anytime, anywhere.  

For some, this is an occasional dalliance and doesn’t become anything more. But for others, pornography sets a hook into their brains that is difficult to dig out and initiates a lifelong struggle. According to CNET, nearly 80% of men view pornography weekly, and the average boy has been exposed to porn by age 13. 

Nearly 80% of men view pornography weekly, and the average boy has been exposed to porn by age 13.

Causes of Porn Addiction 

Reports have shown that habitual porn users exhibit some of the same types of brain activity experienced by drug or alcohol users, which indicates that porn addiction has a physiological as well as a psychiatric component.

It can create a variety of physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational side effects as well, including harmfully warped sexual expectations. Thomas Christianson, a pastor and professor, recalls his personal struggle with porn and the toll it took on how he saw himself: “When I couldn’t get rid of my addiction, I started to believe that it was who I was. I was a terrible person, and if I was a terrible person, I couldn’t expect to behave any differently.” This destructive feedback loop sadly can keep us from seeking help when we really need it.

A renowned expert on sex addiction, Senior Fellow and founder of Gentle Path at The Meadows, Patrick Carnes, PhD, says, “Recently in the news, there’s been a lot of controversy about what sex addiction is and what it’s not. One of the things we’ve learned over time is that when sex addiction is connected to a topic like trafficking or prostitution or children or harassment, it gets confused that, That’s a sex addict. It confuses the public because the distinction is not made between sex addiction and what the strong issue is that people have intense feelings about. It’s impossible to see that this is a larger thing.” 

He explains that there is a large body of scientific research about sex addiction. “When we have people say no such thing as sex addiction exists, there are lots of people out there listening to that — college-age men in particular, and women — already afraid to admit to a doctor or talk to anybody about their problem,” he says. “And when they hear a message that it doesn’t exist, they become hopeless.” 

Dr. Carnes adds that people need to hear that what they’re dealing with is a legitimate struggle. “The thing I’ve heard from people is that they only need[ed] to hear the words, and they said, ‘I need to get some help.’”

Causes of Porn Addiction - Gentle Path

Signs of Porn Addiction 

Someone wrestling with a porn problem may find himself in need of help when consequences begin developing. This is when porn leads to problems as diverse as job loss, damaged or failed relationships, and eventually damage to our sex drive and/or problems with erectile dysfunction. 

So, what are some of the warning signs of porn addiction that someone is struggling with? According to VeryWellMind, these include:

  • Thinking about porn during other activities
  • Taking risks to view porn in public 
  • Feeling depressed or guilty about porn use
  • Losing track of time while watching porn
  • Damaged relationships and work life
  • Reduced sexual satisfaction with a partner
  • Failed attempts at quitting 

Porn addiction is not easy to admit, but Addiction HQ reminds us that confessing our powerlessness and the harm that has been done by our addiction is the first step toward recovery. 

Habitual porn users exhibit some of the same types of brain activity experienced by drug or alcohol users.

How to Quit Porn Addiction

Addiction HQ adapts Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 steps for those struggling to figure out how to stop watching porn: turning to a higher power, taking a “moral inventory” of what addiction has led us to do, confessing to a therapist or loved ones, asking our higher power for help, making amends to those harmed by our behavior, continuing to take personal inventory and seek guidance through meditation or prayer, and finally, determining to help others. 

Another important step: finding a therapist or treatment program specifically for porn or sex addiction

“I’ve heard the story over the years that there comes a moment when a person knows they can’t simply keep going like this,” says Dr. Carnes. “The whole point of the Gentle Path program is to help addicts to build lifelong freedom from being caught in addiction. What we teach is how to get [the] brain operating, how to manage feelings, and how to keep yourself calm so that you can live a life that’s entirely different.”

“If sex has become a real problem for you,” he concludes, “there are a lot of resources available. This moment is really precious. Don’t just let it go by. Do something.”

August 10th, 2021

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