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How to beat an addiction to porn before it’s too late

Beat an addiction to porn before it's too lateLately I’ve been having more conversations than usual with guys about pornography, some defeated by it, some struggling, and some continually resisting in victory. As a guy who deals with visual pressures just like every other male in our society, I’m definitely not immune to the trap of pornography, so I’ve set up as many roadblocks as possible to keep me from going down that path.

Earlier this year I wrote an article called, Dealing with an Addiction to Porn, which is worth reading. This post expands that a bit more except for the part about seeking professional help. That still stands true because if you’ve been addicted to pornography for a length of time, there are probably some neurological chemicals you’re addicted to that are only released when fantasizing over porn. Read that article and seek professional help.

The following are the steps I’ve taken to place roadblocks between me and pornography. I’m not an expert or anything — just a guy speaking from personal experience.

1. Confess to a couple trusted men. James 5:16 is clear, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” You cannot beat a struggle with porn on your own. No man is that strong. There’s something very empowering and freeing about humbling yourself and admitting weakness to other trusted men. Without this first critical step, none of the others will work, guaranteed.

2. Establish accountability with them. If you’ve ever had an accountability partner before, you know that it often lasts for a couple weeks, but soon the hard questions are less and less frequent and eventually the accountability relationship dissolves completely. That’s why it’s important that you find guys who are totally committed to supporting you for the long-haul. Each time an accountability partnership dissolves, the less likely you are to risk the vulnerability with someone else later again. (Your wife cannot be your accountability partner. Women just don’t understand this struggle the way a guy does and you may be less than honest with her because of the emotional challenge it is for her to hold you accountable in this area.)

3. Set up Covenant Eyes to email a weekly report to each partner. I have Covenant Eyes installed on every computer I have access to. It tracks all Internet activity and emails a log to my accountability partners every week. It logs web browsing, bit torrents, ftp transfers, peer to peer networks, everything, and puts the most questionable activity at the beginning of each week’s email report. And, unlike other accountability software, it’s pretty foolproof because tampering with it will cut off your Internet access completely; and there’s no way to uninstall it without calling Covenant Eyes and getting an uninstall code, which promptly emails your accountability partners about your uninstall.

Check out Covenant Eyes at CovenantEyes.com. It does costs about $8/month, but it’s absolutely the best use of $8/month you could ever spend. Use promo code YouthMinistry to get the first 30 days free if you just wanna try it out first.

4. Know your vulnerable points and avoid them at all costs. I’m most vulnerable when I’m super tired and alone, when I’m bored and alone, or when I’m under a lot of stress. When I notice that I’m in one of those states, I never believe the lie that I’m strong enough to resist just this one time. I don’t even flirt with the idea. Know when you’re most vulnerable and flee those situations every time. Go to bed early, leave the house, do whatever you have to do to avoid the vulnerable point before it’s too late.

5. When felling the pull, text message your partners and ask them to check up on you the next day. Sometimes it’s just not possible to avoid your vulnerable times. Some nights I’m very drained and stressed, but I have to stay up late and finish some time-sensitive work. In those cases, I send a text message to my accountability partners and say, “Hey, gotta stay up late tonight. Check on me in the morning.” They may already be sleeping, but just knowing that they’re going to ask the next day is usually enough support to help me make it safely through the task at hand.

6. Dig into God’s Word and pray like your life depends on it. Someone once said that addictions are like a vacuum: when you remove the addiction, it creates a vacuum that will suck the addiction back in unless that void is filled with something else first. That’s why it’s so important to fill that vacuum with the Lord. One of the most under-utilized part of our spiritual growth is memorizing scripture and fasting. Do not neglect either of these! Fill the void with both of them and more.

7. Mark on a calendar the last time you viewed porn. You’ll probably want to be discrete about it, but mark it somehow so you can count every day that goes by as another step in victory. This was extremely helpful for me. When I reached day 30, 60, and 90, it was very encouraging and gave me a lot of hope that victory is possible. I was so proud of myself! Go celebrate landmarks with accountability partners.

8. Never assume you’ll be okay. As you continue to check off days on the calendar, it’s easy for confidence to turn into pride, which quickly turns into a downfall (Proverbs 18:12). Be excited for yourself, but don’t let your guard down just because you’ve gone 100 days or whatever without viewing porn. Never let your guard down. You will never be immune to this temptation for the rest of your life. You are always vulnerable. As you know, the smallest trigger can set off a whole series of thoughts and desires, so stay alert and never slack off in this area.

9. Email or send a Facebook message to your accountability partners every day. It’s especially helpful at the beginning of the path to victory to give a daily report of how the previous day went. It feels a bit rudimentary at first, but after two weeks or so, you’ll see the value of it.

10. Stay honest with your partners. If you continue to fail, it’s very difficult to swallow your pride and admit it to your accountability partners, but do it anyway! Lying or misleading them is only cheating yourself and sabotages you of the entire process. They want to support you, pray for you, encourage you, and kick you in the butt when you need it, so let them help you.

11. Don’t beat yourself up. Sorrow and shame is one thing, but depression and questioning self-worth because of repeated failures is exactly the kind of defeated life the enemy wants you to live. Admit your failure to your accountability partners, pick yourself up again, mark a new day on the calendar, and move forward from there.

Tomorrow’s Freebie Friday will be a great resource to help you with this path to victory! Stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out this video on YouTube. If pornography is a struggle for you and you’re still keeping it a secret, pay attention to what the lady says starting around 3 minutes and 25 seconds into the video.


Posted on October 15, 2009

  • http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/ Luke Gilkerson

    Thanks so much about posting this! Great thoughts.

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  • A Guest

    I think you've put up some great suggestions and helps here, especially numbers 4, 6 and 8 .
    While I agree that a man should get help from other men in this area (A wife, even if understanding, might be too hurt to be an accountability partner) , I think you underestimate the pervasiveness of pornography in our day. I think many women (albeit, probably not as great a number as men) are afflicted with this addiction as well.
    Thank you for the post :)

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