Vince recently called my office seeking help for his struggle with pornography addiction. This was not the first time I spoke with him. A few months earlier he called at the insistence of his wife. Vince had a longstanding struggle with Internet pornography use that spanned years. We talked about his use of pornography and how addictive it can be. However, at that time, he had not used pornography for over three weeks. Because of this, he believed he was not addicted to it and could easily let go of it. He believed that prayer and willpower would save him. Vince was in denial. While he thought he was done with pornography, he was really just white-knuckling it. Eventually he fell back into pornography use and it was worse than ever. Finally, when his wife threatened divorce he was able to admit he had a serious problem and needed help. That’s when he called my office the second time.
Stories like Vince’s are all too familiar to me. What he was initially experiencing is called the “honeymoon period” of recovery. This is when a person realizes he has a problem with pornography and decides to give it up. He may or may not be in a recovery program. At this point, giving it up seems rather easy. This is often due to the crisis caused by pornography in his life. He sees the trouble it’s caused and vows never to use it again. This may initially work well leaving him to believe he is over his porn problem, or that it really was never a problem in the first place. This, however, is an illusion. Usually three to six months after the man swears off porn the temptations come back stronger than ever. This is similar in what we read in Matthew 12: 43-45:
43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a person it roams through arid regions searching for rest but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the last condition of that person is worse than the first. Thus it will be with this evil generation.”
White-knuckling it and/or simply trying to pray away an addiction rarely works, and you can’t do it alone. You need a comprehensive recovery program that includes counseling, support, accountability, and a strong spiritual plan. By immersing yourself in an effective recovery program, when the honeymoon period ends and the temptations return, you will have the strategies and resources needed to withstand the temptations. You won’t be white-knuckling it. This will lead to success in recovery.
With a little courage and a lot of humility, Vince was able to admit that he couldn’t overcome his addiction alone. He is ready and willing to commit himself to recovery. I believe he is now able to succeed in recovery. If you are struggling with pornography addiction, even if it may seem easy to let go of, don’t be fooled by the honeymoon period. Temptations will return. For real success, be ready and willing to immerse yourself in a successful recovery program.