“He was hooked on porn for eight years. Then he learned to fish.”
Thus begins a Washington Post account of a pornography addict, Dave Barnette, looking for support, self-mastery, and new meaning in life as he struggled to rid his life of so-called adult entertainment. The article (which you can read in full by clicking here) is an honest and slightly humorous illustration of addiction recovery and highlights several life lessons for anyone seeking to break a habit, fight an addiction, or simply understand the real consequences of pornography use.
“She consulted her notes, then looked me over. ‘You,’ she said with finality, ‘alone.’ As an ad guy, I could have campaigned for a thousand words and not nailed the truth like that.”
The Fight the New Drug slogan is more than catchy– porn really does leave you lonely. Dave lost his wife, his children, and even the physical ability to be intimate with a romantic partner. Extensive anecdotal evidence cites pornography as a major contributor to marital dysfunction and divorce, and a recent study broke ground by confirming that couples who began using pornography were more likely to split up. Ultimately, pornography isolates its users from family, romantic partners, and healthy relationships in general.
“The speedometer was one thing I could still make rise at will.”
Many addicts begin unhealthy behaviors as a way to feel in control when struggling with difficult life circumstances (click here to listen to Pastor Nathan discuss the relationship between pornography use and control). Other common triggers for bad habits and addiction relapses are loneliness, depression, and other powerful emotions. Learning to cope with emotional stress in healthy ways can be one of the most effective protections against unhealthy behaviors and addictions.
“Porn, he said, is a cigarette without a warning.”
Watch almost any movie or television show from the 1960s, and someone is smoking. Decades passed before scientists realized the horrific health consequences of tobacco use, before cigarettes were labeled with dire warnings. Similarly, pornography is a major public health crisis of our day. It has taken years, but research is finally starting to show the addictive and negative effects of pornography use on individuals, marriages, families, and society as a whole.
“I eventually made an appointment with someone who I’d heard might be good with this sort of thing…she suggested I spend some time reading ’50 Shades of Grey.'”
Unfortunately, myths about pornography have affected even the mental health community. Too many therapists believe that pornography can be a solution, and clients searching for guidance and support are pointed down the wrong path. If a mental health professional ever encourages pornography use, seek a second opinion.
“’Don’t come to your next session without being able to tell me something you did just for fun this weekend,’ she said. ‘And not the kind of fun that includes sex or bourbon.'”
One of the most difficult aspects of breaking an addiction or habit is filling the void of time and energy formerly occupied by the undesirable activity. Encouraged by his second therapist, Dave took up fishing. The new hobby gave him something new to focus on and a reason to turn off the computer. Enjoying a wide variety of on- and off-screen activities helps us maintain healthy technology habits and can help prevent bad habits and addictions.
“A few months ago, since my laptop wasn’t up-to-date enough to install a porn blocker, I handed my phone to the friend I had confided in earlier and asked him to put one on it.”
While internet filters are no silver bullet, they can be a powerful tool in protecting your home against pornography and promoting personal accountability. To make sure your home is fully protected, we recommend a router-based internet filter that automatically covers all devices, like Clean Router!
“He was hooked on porn for eight years. Then he learned to fish” is a thoughtful analysis of the impact of pornography use and the process of breaking an addiction, and you can read it in full here!
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