18 years a porn addict: my story so far

I’ve been lurking here for over a year now, but have never posted before. That’s one of the key lessons that I’m learning at the moment - thinking through problems by yourself and not speaking about it to others will never get you very far, you need to reach out to those around you. I’m not sure why, but I believe that it’s something to do with how the brain works. We have evolved to be social animals, and it seems that there are certain challenges we cannot overcome alone, regardless of how capable we are…

In the beginning…

I started using porn when I was about 13 o 14. I don’t remember exactly how I got started, but I imagine I was just curious. For the first few years, I used porn to illustrate the fantasies I was having about girls I knew. Over time, the fantasies stopped, and porn became an end in itself.

I don’t know exactly when I became addicted, but what I do know is that when I was 16 and trying to have sex for the first time, I already had a pretty bad case of ED. I didn’t know what caused it at the time, and (ironically) found myself preferring the porn to sex, because it didn’t matter if I was struggling to perform.

Maybe I should quit?

I first started to think of quitting 3 or 4 years ago. I have a lot of female friends, am a feminist, and was pretty aware that porn was incompatible with who I wanted to be. At first I thought it was just a matter of willpower. Then I thought it was all about porn blockers. Then I thought the trick was to have more sex with my wife, or cure my depression (which started at about the same time as I began using porn), or take more exercise, or track my recovery.

I’m sorry to say that I failed at every one of these attempts. Each time I would start out motivated, keen and excited for the new me I would become, once I was clear of this horrible and destructive addiction. Each time I would become distracted by life, get tired or stressed, or simply become so aroused that I couldn’t resist anymore. Sometimes I would last a month, other times it was barely a day.

Where am I now?

I’m still struggling with this. Struggling terribly. Eventually I told my wife and my family, and since then I’ve spoken about it to a number of doctors and therapists. The thrust of the healing process seems to come down to the following steps:

  1. Understand clearly why porn is bad and why you want to give up

  2. Connect to other people who can support you when things get difficult (hence this post)

  3. Build a good life that meets the needs that you are trying to meet through porn, so that you no longer need it in your life.

This is easier said than done, and I write this just hours after my last relapse. Here are a couple of the problems I’m struggling to get past:

  • As much as I hate porn and want to get away from it, there’s no way round the fact that it brings me pleasure. Lots of pleasure. It’s a fantastic source of instant gratification that I can’t get in any other way.

  • When I use porn, my brain rewards me for doing so, even if I feel guilty afterwards. When I refrain from using porn, there is no reward.

  • Because the porn reward is so great, nothing else I can do in my life can provide a good alternative. Porn or post a message here? Porn. Porn or go for a walk? Porn. Porn or phone a friend? Porn. I know that this is a short term issue caused by habit and brain chemistry, and that the balance of rewards will change when I get clear, but how to resist short term tangible pleasure for long term intangible happiness?

  • My porn habit is so deeply ingrained that many of my relapses have been automatic. The reasoning and decision making parts of my brain get completely bypassed, which is deeply frustrating.

  • A lot of the advice I find seems to be about better self care. I meditate twice a day every day (if my porn-free streak was anything like my meditation streak I’d be doing cartwheels of joy), get lots of exercise, eat healthily and sleep pretty well. I have a fulfilling career, a happy marriage and a generally fulfilling life. For some reason, there is something that porn gives me that none of these things do. I don’t know what it is or where else to get it.

In conclusion

This post is already far too long and rambling (sorry). I don’t know if I’m after practical tips here (though they are very welcome) or if I’m just hoping that talking to you guys (and girls) will help me gain some strength and motivation. I’ve done everything I can do to fix this by myself with no joy. Now I’m reaching out.

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It’s really good that you’re reaching out. I think we can help each other.

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I’m interested in talking with you. I’ve had this addiction for 10+ years.

Code: 7u9ze1

Very happy to talk with you @RebootGabe. 10+ years is a long time, have you come up with any particularly helpful techniques in that time?

Unfortunately I’m surviving on a borrowed iPhone at the moment, so no app and no sharing code :frowning:

Edit
I now have the app running in an emulator on my laptop, so I have access to my sharing code again: d5f29d

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Studying helps me, exercise, dieting, deleting images and apps on your phone that can give you even the thought of relapsing.

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Keeping busy doing good and healthy activities certainly seems to help, especially if they take you away from environments where you might relapse. With regards to apps and images, I think deleting them creates a bit of a barrier to relapsing, but I found myself getting very quick at reinstalling the apps I used and getting straight back into using them whenever I was triggered, and I’ve never really found a fix for that, other than willpower.

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Hello,

Very beautiful post, it’s magnificient to see that you told people about it and admitting that you are struggling with it.

But … i really think that there is a misunderstanding.
I have a small story to tell, i relapsed 4 days ago because i made an experience. I tried to watch porn while being my self i watched 3 hours of it , and i saw many videos without having an erection. Because when i am my self i’m NOT exicted of it. After 3 hours of fight , i masturbated.

So … " As much as I hate porn and want to get away from it, there’s no way round the fact that it brings me pleasure. Lots of pleasure. It’s a fantastic source of instant gratification that I can’t get in any other way."

Is thsi really true ? In my case it’s not , i can see the automatic part in you , and i have it too.
But, when i’m my self when i concentrate i can see that i don’t want it, someone in me wants me to stay a slave by making me believe that i’m aroused which is not the case.

You believe that porn gives pleasure it’s not. Just watch this explanation of " arousal" ( you can watch the full video by the way) —> https://youtu.be/oj0e19Cr6Fw?t=2895

Yes you believe it … but … what if … no ?
It’s maybe a fact but maybe you are saying it like it’s impossible. Just saying that the way you say things as an impact on how you see them and how you deal with them .

If you are so aroused at least just try to be yourself , concentrate , stay conscious and you will see that you are not so arroused.

I hope it might help.

By the way many people should be warn that it’s not arousal !!! I hope that people who are reading this will share the link, it’s important.

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The thing is, you will get more happiness being away from porn than pleasure with porn. Just rely on that. On the first days, do activities that bring lots of dopamine: exercise super often, eat a lot, sleep longer so days go quicker… Honestly, from day 10 on, it gets pretty easy aside from a few bad urges that become less and less common.
So just hold on for the first week, set yourself goals of 3-4 days and buy yourself special things when you meet them, just try to get time pass by as quick as possible. Anyway you can. It is like being close to a black hole in space. Its gravity drags you to its center so quickly if you do nothing. But if you give all the strength there is in you to get out of its attraction, its influence on you will get weaker and weaker until you are finally (almost) free.
Hope this helps,
83d24b

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Hi @SunRise, thank you so much for your comment, I found it extremely interesting! I have often wondered about the whole pleasure/arousal thing and if it’s real or not. I’ve actually tried doing what you did, trying to be my “true self” whilst viewing porn, but I’ve never managed to keep my head clear enough to find out for sure. I’m really impressed that you managed to stay clear for 3 hours, well done!

That video was really interesting, thanks so much for sharing. I think there’s a lot in that idea that we think we’re aroused when maybe it’s an automatic reaction.

One of my difficulties is depression, and how it alters the way I think. Today I’m clear headed and can honestly say that I don’t believe the pleasure I get from porn is real. But when I wrote this post I was depressed, and I genuinely believed that it was my only source of pleasure in the whole world. Learning to challenge this erroneous thought process whilst depressed could be really helpful in preventing a relapse. Knowing what is real and what is a “brain lie” is possibly the hardest part of the addiction recovery process.

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Hi @pierretomas18, you are so right about the first week! That is where I usually fall, but after that I generally have a much easier time of things. Finding healthy sources of dopamine that is strong enough to ride out the urges can be a challenge. To your list I might add listening to music that you really enjoy (actual listening, not just background).

I keep meaning to write a post asking people what they use for rewards when they’re rewiring and what sort of goal structure they set for themselves…

Hello,

I can undersand the influence of depression. But if you believe you can’t do something about it , you will never be able to do something about it.
And , even in depression you can still have a bit of yourself present. I experienced it many many times.
It’s hard, i know.
If you want to have a clear mind , just try to do nothing, just observe your breathing.
After some pratice you will be able to do this even when you do something ( which is hard for me but it’s possible).

As long as you don’t believe pleasure it’s a huge progress.

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Hi @pierretomas18, I like your advice and the black hole analogy in particular. Incidentally, the astronomy community is going to be releasing the first ever image of an actual black hole (the supermassive one at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy). Exciting!

What day are you on? Do you think it’s possible to do hard-mode more than 90 days?

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Interesting point,
I’m going to think about this reflection

Funny coincidence don’t you think? I am on day 3 right now. But it is not a regular streak. It is notlike even a streak anymore. I am free. I broke free. I feel it in my soul. I will never masturbate again. If you want more details on how it happened go check my diary. Good luck.
Btw it is of course possible to go on hard mode for more than 90 days. You just have to try until you do it.

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That’s interesting. I’ll check out your diary. Just in case I can’t find it, please share me the link to your diary.