After reading many stories and articles about adult film actors who have left the porn industry, it is abundantly clear that many former actors have serious regrets for having participated in this line of business. The lasting impacts of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking take a devastating toll on their emotions, their dignity, and their self-image. I couldn’t stop thinking about how these brave women made a difficult decision, got out of the industry and are now healing and reclaiming their lives.
In a similar vein, the internet is replete with uplifting stories from men and women, young and old, who have conquered long addictions to pornography and now have a new lease on life. All these accounts provide ample testimony that positive change is possible.
But how, exactly, is this kind of change accomplished? What are the components and steps that lead to lasting change? We know that addiction to pornography can have a vice-like grip and result in devastating mental, physical and emotional impairment. Dr. Donald L. Hilton, neurosurgeon, explains,
“As the desensitization of the reward circuit continues, stronger and stronger stimuli are required to boost the dopamine. In the case of narcotic addiction, the addicted person must increase the amount of the drug to get the same high…” “Many develop an “antisocial lust devoid of most values” and the high they get from pornography “becomes more important than real-life relationships.”
Is it any wonder why it is difficult to break the addiction to porn? The process of change and healing can be slow and painstaking. One of the first steps on the road to change and recovery is having the courage to reach out and seek assistance. Help can come from a variety of resources including therapists, parents, church leaders, school counselors, and friends.
While those engaged in recovery can feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, much can be gained by focusing on one day at a time and a single recovery step at a time. One young man who shared his story of healing from pornography addiction described the success he achieved by narrowing his focus vs. trying to master all recovery goals at once. He said:
I chose to focus on just one habit that I thought would provide the most benefit to me in that overwhelmed and anxious state. I committed to myself that I would do, and track, just this one activity for the next seven days. Then, as I felt more capable, I would build in the remaining practices to rebuild my habits. It worked! By narrowing the focus and just mastering one single practice, I felt encouraged, energized, and capable of adding more.”
Reading the stories of those who have conquered addiction to pornography and similar challenges is inspiring and life-affirming. Each story demonstrates that the courage to change is possible, within reach, and begins with that first, albeit difficult, conversation and request for assistance.