Fighting Addiction: How to Step Up Your Game
Saturday I got to attend the Utah Coalition Against Pornography in Salt Lake City. It was basically this giant convention where we had break-out sessions with different speakers and professionals in the world of addiction recovery and the dangers of pornography. Before the conference, I thought that I understood my addiction. I thought that I knew how it worked, the triggers, and what I had to do to keep from falling. It's vital to know and recognize those things, but long story short, I learned that there is so much more to an addiction than just being addicted, and I had been missing some vital tools and information.
1. "The only way I got out of my addiction was being open about it." I heard this from many speakers. This means confiding in people you trust. When you hide your addiction or even if you're in recovery and you have a slip-up and you don't tell anyone, that gives power to the addiction. If you're willing to be open about it and honest with those around you, you create a safety net, and you take power away from the addiction and give it back to yourself. Dr. Kevin Skinner, a renowned therapist who spoke at the Coalition, said it best, "Nothing makes us so lonely as do our secrets." If you haven't confided in anyone, don't wait any longer to do so. Your success to overcome it depends on this.
2. "Going 5 years clean is a good sign that you have permanently overcome the addiction." That's a long time. When I heard that, that's when I realized that I am only in recovery, and that I have a long ways to go. I'm not over my addiction like I thought I was. Like many people have experienced, if you're trying to quit your addiction with sheer will power, and nothing else, you'll most likely fail. The word "Overcome" is a verb. You must act in order to overcome your addiction. What does that look like? Read on.
3. Get the right help. Addiction is often like an iceberg. We see the addiction on top, but really, there's something much bigger going on underneath. Common issues could be depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, and so much more!. In turn, it can then cause a number of other issues like emotional detachment, fear of relationships, misconceptions about sex/relationships and, for men, erectile dysfunction. Success rarely ever comes from sheer will power. It must be coupled with other things. You have to build your safety net, as mentioned, that includes telling people about it. That might also include joining a recovery group and seeing a therapist or counselor who can work with you one on one and help you understand the iceberg underneath your addiction.
So, what did I do as soon as I got home from the conference? I found an addiction recovery group (a women only group!), and later that week, I went to my first meeting. It was eye-opening and I felt very vulnerable, but it was amazing to listen to these women and hear their triumphs and struggles. Addiction doesn't care about gender, race, religion, social class - any of that. No one is immune to pornography addiction. The one thing I've found that has brought me so much freedom from this addiction after speaking out about it, is that I found that I wasn't alone. That's been the greatest game-changer for me. In addiction recovery groups, you're with people who are fighting the same battle as you are. There is no shame in this, only love and support.
If you're going through an addiction, you're probably either frustrated that you keep "falling" or you haven't viewed in a few months and you're on cloud nine thinking that you'll never go back to it again . . . just like what happened the last time, and the time before that. Chances are, you're in recovery, you're not over your addiction and it's time to get help.
I, like many people, never imagined that I would need that sort of help (my bishops included. Not a single person had ever suggested that I get professional help, and it's probably because most people don't know that they can or should). I'm sure I could get through life just fine by doing nothing, but I don't want to be "just fine." I want to be in the best mental health I can be in, and I realized that I can't do it alone. No one can. Listen carefully to addiction recovery success stories, and the one thing you will never hear is "I did it by myself."
Repentance goes right along with Recovery. You need both to be whole. Repentance without recovery can put you in a vicious cycle of slip-ups, shame then repentance. Use the resources around you. You don't have to be caught in the cycle.
Want to join the battle? Share this post, you never know who needs it. If you would like to share your story or you have questions or need help, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your spouse is going through an addiction, there is help for you as well. Betrayal Trauma is real and there's help for it.
Find a 12-stepts recovery group! Click here for the "Addiction Recovery Meeting Locator." I put in my info, and just like that, I found a women's only group that focuses specifically on pornography addiction. 12-step groups are all over the country and they're free. It was adopted by the LDS church from Alcoholics Anonymous. It's a great resource and it's not being used nearly as much as it should be. It depends on where you live as to what will be available to you, but whatever is available, take advantage of it.
Jeffery R. Holland spoke at the Coalition and I have to share his advice:
If thing I could say, it would be to hold fast. FAST.
Flee - put distance between you and the problem.
Ask - turn to someone for help. Don't let pride get in the way. I would ask abs ask until my throat was sore. I'd knock and knock until my knuckles were bloody.
Strive - persistent effort
Triumph - we have to believe. Have faith. Surely there has never been a battle won where the victor had not expected or hoped to win.
You can read his full address here.