How can you know if you’re an addict or just need a bit of help with your struggle? There’s no acid test, no one question to provide you with a hard-and-fast diagnosis on this important point, but here are a number of questions that can help you:
Do you feel like your attraction to porn is stronger than you are, dragging you in against your will? Do you find that even though you really want to stop, you can’t, such that every time the urge strikes you, you succumb? Have you tried really hard to stop, without success? Are you giving in more frequently? Is your acting out growing more extreme? Do you promise yourself (sincerely) after each time that this is the last time, but you don’t succeed in keeping your promise? Are you in hopeless despair over your chances of stopping?
Also ask yourself the following: Do you feel like your attraction to porn has become an obsession, far surpassing the conventional attraction of a normal person? Do you feel as though in the moment of truth you “lose your head” and your judgment simply goes on the blink? Is the gap between the before and after disproportionate, such that beforehand you feel a desperate need and a sense of euphoria, and afterward you feel emptiness, depression and profound sorrow?
You should also honestly ask yourself how much your use of porn is harming other parts of your life: your self-image, your moods, your relationship with your wife, lack of satisfaction from marital relations, and your connection to God.
For the last eighty years or so, the Twelve Steps have served as an extraordinary recipe for recovery. Since they were first published in the book Alcoholic Anonymous in 1939, they have had a profound impact far beyond the world of alcoholism, helping tens of millions of people find relief from the vicious cycle of addiction.
Today there are over two hundred thousand 12-Step groups throughout the world for every type of addiction, whether it’s alcohol, gambling, over-eating, narcotics, or porn addiction.
The underlying secret of the success of the 12-step program lies in the realization that we can’t break free with our own strengths. The program doesn’t focus on the problem itself, but rather on achieving and maintaining a healthy spiritual state. In turn, we are given the gift of sobriety.
It is a non-religious program of recovery; each member is encouraged to cultivate an individual understanding—religious or not—of the spiritual principles and apply these principles to everyday life.
All addictions share similar roots. We are all trying to fill a void and avoid pain. We are looking to feel less, or at least to control how we feel.
Addictions are cunning, baffling and extremely powerful. We are confused people with a complex problem. But the beauty of the 12-step program is that it is so simple!
All that is required of us is a desire to stop using the drug-of-our choice. It’s not about intellectually understanding our addiction – all the thinking in the world has gotten us nowhere. This is a program of action, and when the steps are worked with diligence and faith, even a simple minded drunk can achieve the miracle of sobriety.
Below are links to the Big Book (the basic text of A.A.)
Porn Anonymous is a fellowship for recovery from pornography addiction. Members of this fellowship share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover.
Our main objective is to stay sober and to help others to achieve sobriety. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop watching pornography.
There are no dues or fees for PA membership; we support ourselves only through our own contributions.
Introduction to PA’s Sobriety Definition
The collective experience of recovery fellowships worldwide confirms that addiction is a universal phenomenon which doesn’t differentiate between nationalities or religions, male or female, young or old. All addicts suffer from a physical, mental and spiritual malady.
Still, there are significant differences in the way various addictions manifest themselves. Therefore, some recovery fellowships focus on the substance (like alcohol), while others focus on the behaviors (like gambling).
In defining sobriety, we do not speak for those outside Porn Anonymous. We can not offer an opinion for other addictions, but when it comes to porn addicts, we feel it is necessary to address both the behaviors and the substance as complementary ingredients. Our sobriety definition therefore relates to both the substance (in part 1) and the behavior (in part 2).
PA’s Sobriety Definition
1) The root of our problem is the intentional consumption of sexual materials of any kind, for the purpose of arousing sexual desire. We refer to all such content by the inclusive term Porn. This includes videos, images, chats, erotic literature, phone-sex, etc. Sobriety means the abstention from using such stimuli.
2) We also consider as symptoms of our disease any compulsive sexual acts, or sexual acts which do not constitute healthy sexuality, whether done alone or with a partner, live or virtual.
3) Our end goal is not merely technical sobriety. We strive for true sobriety that manifests in our progressive freedom from our compulsive behaviors and obsessive thinking.
PA’s Stance in Regard to Porn
We don’t claim to be experts in determining any scientific definitions. The goal in defining our problem is only to help us maintain sobriety in relation to the behaviours that we feel are harmful for us.
It is important for us to clarify that PA is not a fellowship of people who are opposed to pornography or any other sexual behaviors due to moral, religious or humanistic reasons. Some PA members may privately hold such views, but this is not the official stance of the fellowship.
The goal of PA is simply to help men and women who feel that their Porn use is an expression of uncontrollable compulsion, to achieve sobriety.
The founders of Alcoholic Anonymous discovered that a group of fellow-addicts who understand each other, are able to help one-another with far better success than the best doctors or psychologists. This experience has been replicated in all the 12-step based fellowships around the world.
Addiction is a disease of isolation. Meeting face-to-face with other recovering addicts counteracts isolation. Recovery is strengthened by simply showing up. The sharing between members, the understanding of what you’re going through by others in the same boat are crucial for our own progress.
Porn addicts receive strength from seeing change in others. At meetings, members have the opportunity to see the sincerity in each other’s eyes, the tears, the smiles. We watch each other attain the “PA glow” that inevitably accompanies PA abstinence. PA members can help spot when another member needs extra help. In addition, seeing others at meetings helps porn addicts stay honest about falls and slips.
For all addicts, acting-out is not the real problem, but rather, acting-out has become their solution. In our case as well; porn is not the real problem, porn has become the solution. What this means is that there are underlying reasons why we act out. Addictive porn-use means we have begun using the porn as a solution to medicate pain, such as fear, guilt, stress, shame, or other problems in our lives. When we stop medicating, we can finally face the real issues head on. And that’s where it gets hard. But the program and fellowship give you the tools and support you need while you find the peace that you seek and deserve.
The benefits to our recovery of fully participating in face-to-face meetings far outweigh the comforts of staying home. For those who are not able – or not ready yet – to attend live meetings, PA’s online meetings provide a second-best option for working the program.
Besides for the first step, in which we recognize our powerlessness, the rest of the steps are simply a formula for mature, responsible living, and for ridding ourselves of our character defects. There is nothing unique about addicts that makes these steps specifically for them. Virtually every character defect that can be found in addicts, can also be found in non-addicts, albeit maybe less pronounced.
However, addicts have the most success with the 12-Step program because they have come to realize that they are on a collision course with “rock bottom”, spurring them to work the program with great desperation.
There is common saying in the 12-Step program: “Hit bottom while still on top”. As the founder of AA explains:
Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone through. Since Step One requires an admission that our lives have become unmanageable, how could people such as these take this Step?
It was obviously necessary to raise the bottom the rest of us had hit to the point where it would hit them. By going back in our own drinking histories, we could show that years before we realized it we were out of control, that our drinking even then was no mere habit, that it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression.
Addiction is a progressive disease. Without treatment, addictions always gets worse, never better. Once a person recognizes that they have this illness, regardless of the degree to which it may have progressed, they can learn where the addiction will ultimately lead them from those who have already “Hit Bottom.” By doing this, we are essentially “lifting the bottom” for these newcomers to hit, while they are still on top and their lives remain intact. They need not lose their direction in life, their marriages, and respect. They can learn from those who already have reached that point, and recognize the direction they are heading so that they will make recovery the number one priority in their life.
- We admitted we were powerless over porn–that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, we promptly admitted it.
- We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to other porn addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The 12-Step program centers around the idea of a Higher Power. Every person can relate to this Higher Power as they choose. (Some who are not comfortable at all with the concept, can even use the group-conscience as their Higher-Power.)
All we need is the willingness and open mindedness to believe in something greater than ourselves. As the saying goes: “The Twelve Steps work whether or not you believe in God. They will not work, though, if you believe you are God.”
The Big Book of AA says:
“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program”
“We will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”
“And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol [porn]. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor [porn]. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor [porn] has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality – safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.”
“When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned. Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances!”
“Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.”