The Pornography Problem: Getting Help

December 8th, 2011

Pornography has become an increasingly available in the world, and I think it is leaving a trail of broken hearts, broken marriages, and aching regret. It is all over the internet and other media too. Like any harmful substance addiction, the consequences of pornography coupled with poor decisions and selfishness leads to crumbling relationships, especially marriage. I have seen firsthand how others’ marriages fall apart due to pornography addictions.

If you read the last post, you know a little bit more about how pornography addictions affect the brain. You also understand the damaging effects addictions can have on families and relationships. But all of that research and statistics might not mean much to you if you are already seeing these negative effects in your own life.

Instead, what you are looking for is how to get help for this disease and how to maintain hope through it all.

Because pornography addiction is just that, an addiction, it has to be taken seriously. The definition of addiction is “physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.” There is more to recovering than just, “After today, I will never look at it again, on my honor.” There needs to be professional help involved and a lot of support.

Recently at the Strengthening the Family Symposium held in Provo, Utah, I heard a really great analogy about addiction. Addiction is like a tractor that is stuck in the mud. If the driver tries to get out by himself, the wheels will just spin and get them stuck deeper in the mud. He needs an outside source to pull him out and then get the resources to avoid getting stuck again. But first he needs to ask for the help.

There needs to be a personal motivation. No one can do the work for someone else! If there is no personal drive, recovery will never happen.

Next, create a safe environment. Limit access to pornography and its triggers. Cut off the internet, get rid of the television, and get a phone without internet access. Do what you have to do to get rid of any temptation that is around.

Realize you are not the only one in the world with an addiction to pornography. Check out a 12-step recovery program and support group. Just like there are programs for alcoholics and drug addicts, there are also 12-step programs for pornography and sex addicts. The S.A. Lifeline Foundation has a great website to help find local meetings and get started on the 12-step program.

It is also important to get professional counseling to help. There are certified recovery therapists that can help people get over their addictions. There is a big difference between marriage therapists and recovery therapists. Though marriage therapy is beneficial, not all marriage counselors have the proper training in addiction recovery. Even if you are getting help from a religious leader, it is still important that you seek out professional counseling. LifeSTAR Network can help you find professional help in your area.

Lastly, recovery will take time. Experts say that it can take a year to a year-and-a-half for the brain to reach normal chemical levels again. But besides the scientific aspect, we need to remember that we are not perfect. And we can’t expect to get over something so quickly.

For Spouses and Partners

I want to speak specifically to the spouses and partners of those who may be struggling from pornography addiction. Because you are suffering too. There is a loss of trust, intimacy, and safety. You may be feeling overwhelmed or exhausted from trying to keep your life afloat while trying to help your loved one. But always remember that there is help for you as well.

Just as the addicted person needs to go through recovery, you need your own recovery as well. Your self-esteem and happiness have taken a major blow. Know that you are not alone. There are other couples and families who are going through the same emotions that you are. There are support groups for families of pornography addicts and they can help guide you through this adversity.

Also, it is important that you understand that this is not your fault; people make their own choices. Although you want to help them, do not let their needs come before your own. When you are able to deal with your own emotions, thoughts, and needs, you can establish boundaries that will protect you and your family. Your happiness and self-esteem is not dependent on your spouse’s behavior.

Also, know that recovery is possible. People do change for the better. And lives and relationships can be saved. There is always hope.

Here are some great resources for getting help for pornography and sexual addiction:

Addiction Resource Center for Healing
Combating Pornography
LifeSTAR Network
Out in the Light
Provo Counseling Center
S.A. Lifeline Foundation