NoFap is not the Key to Pornography Addiction Recovery

I know anything is possible and there are people who have done it different ways, but I firmly believe that if you are seeking to permanently eliminate your pornography addiction, you can only do it with professional help, often bolstered by the (real-life) interaction with other addicts. Anything short of this and you’re setting yourself up for failure.

You know when you do something that irritates you, but you can’t help it, like letting the dishes pile up in the sink or watching mindless reality TV? I do this with online forums where guys talk to each other about their pornography and masturbation problems.

I find it frustrating because it feels like 95% of these men on boards like NoFap will never understand that they are statistically unlikely to beat their addiction on their own. Many include “counters” in their signature that show how many days they’ve been without porn or masturbation. It’s rare that they ever get above 20 days. They relapse and relapse and relapse again.

Trying to ignore the root of the problem

Their solutions?

“Try harder. Put filters on my computer. Try yoga. Distract myself when I feel the urge. Get out and meet people. Turn off my phone. Meditate. I need a girlfriend.”

Usually less than a week later, they’re singing the same song. It’s clear that they feel guilt and shame about their pornography addiction, but there are other men like me on the site who have years of recovery who talk about how we got to this point, but almost all of it falls on deaf ears. I sometimes wonder if they want to do something about their addiction, or they want to do just enough to convince themselves they are trying, but somehow they are the special snowflake who is just never going to be able to get into recovery.

There are others who remind me of people who consider themselves political, but really just regurgitate the talking points they hear on TV. These are the ones who try to tell you that they can “re-wire” their brains, but when you ask them about the science behind what they’re doing, they mumble-write something about dopamine and usually admit to not knowing everything, but knowing it’s true, much like climate change deniers.

I can give you a dissertation in how brain chemistry works with addiction, but I’ll save it. Bottom line is you’re never going to rewire yourself out of that childhood trauma causing the pornography addiction.

What is real recovery?

The lazy, ignorant and stubborn don’t recover. That’s just a fact.

If it’s not one of those things, I think it boils down to fear. Sitting across from a real person, face-to-face, and having a conversation is much different than typing essays on a computer and waiting hours to read equally one-side responses. It’s scary to be that vulnerable and ultimately, intimate, with another person if you’re not used to it.

The main excuse I hear when it comes to avoiding therapy is that somebody doesn’t have the money or the time. First, the time excuse is BS. Send me a copy of your schedule and I’ll find plenty of time for you to get help. You just make it a priority. As for money, there are plenty of mental health treatment programs funded by local, state and national sources that will pay for, or at least help you out, with the cost. In my part of Maine, there’s an agency that covers three counties and offers steep discounts depending on your income. And if you don’t qualify for an income break, your lack of funds is just another excuse. Put your mental health in front of the big movie package on your cable system.


The only other way I’ve seen people recover from pornography addiction aside from therapy – and many of these people don’t have loads of pre-existing trauma – is through a form of group therapy. It can be a 12-step group like Sex Addicts Anonymous, a spiritual approach like Recovery Today or a secular approach like SMART. I’ve been to all three and while none were the ultimate answer for me, it’s clear based on the people who are deep into recovery in all three groups that communal fellowship plays a big role in recovery.

I’d still urge people who go this route to get some professional help just to make sure they’re not missing anything, but I am confident that this is a way for some to achieve successful recovery.

This does not mean that blogs like this, online forums and bulletin boards are a communal fellowship approach. They’re not. They exist on a screen, not in real life. I believe that they can be secondary or tertiary levels of support, much like researching in books or watching YouTube videos, but the amount of people failing again and again seems proof enough that anything you find on a computer or telephone screen cannot be the sole solution.

I’ve said this plenty of times: Any route to recovery is the right route to recovery. The key word in that sentence is “recovery” not “any.”

If you’re reading this and you’ve failed again and again and again, it’s time to stop doing what isn’t working and try something new, or step-up and own it: you don’t really want recovery bad enough.

8 thoughts on “NoFap is not the Key to Pornography Addiction Recovery

  1. Having a sponsor and accountability partners made all the difference in the world in my recovery. I couldn’t have beaten my porn addiction without having men I could open up to and not have them look at me like I had the plague or was making a mountain out of a molehill. They know what it’s like to be hooked. They’re like brothers to me now and they keep me honest. Joshua knows what he’s talking about. Take his advice.

    1. My therapist has told me that she thinks I’d make a good therapist with the exception I need to see results and many people are just not ready for change, even at the point they go see her. Yeah, recovery is tough, but I think guys like you and I…and the other thousands or millions…have proven it’s possible.

  2. It’s all too easy to persuade ourselves that we have what it takes to beat an addiction alone. However, the truth is that almost nobody does. Having a therapist or accountability partner who is walking the road with you makes all the difference in the world. Saying that, because you are making yourself so vulnerable it’s really important you feel this individual really understands and is on your side. If you feel they are judgmental then they aren’t the right person, and it’s crucial you find another person to support you.

    1. I agree 100%. I got incredibly lucky with the woman I’ve seen for the last 6 years. I can’t see myself moving away from her ever, and I never thought that about any of my past therapists. Having a match is a must.

  3. Josh,

    Your criticisms of NoFap are scathing. Mostly because they are true. However, I think that NoFap has utility if used in the correct fashion and context.

    I am a daily user of the board. I cannot begin to tell you how much it has helped me. Certain features like journaling have been invaluable. People have called me on BS and Ive made real strides. Ive made connections on there that I wouldn’t otherwise make.

    It can be a conduit to recovery for many. Also its one of the biggest voices out there in term of educating men on what a scourge porn addiction is.

    I get your frustration w/ seeing the failure and fuckups that constantly arise. Watching guys try again and again sad. Especially when much of their behavior seems so repetitive and preventable. The way in which the counter is deemed the only important thing as opposed to real recovery and healing is irksome. However, AA et al have their “chips”. Ive found that the counter is a nice visual representation of where I am going and where Ive been. It is a barometer of how I am doing so to speak.

    I guess that what Im trying to say is please dont throw the baby out with the bath water. No Fap is an imperfect solution for sure…It is at least something to cling to for many men. My god at this point I dont know where I’d be without it. I say this as a man who has tried therapy 12-step etc.

    1. Good comparison with the chips. I hadn’t thought of that. And I guess I wasn’t clear enough in the end. I think these boards can be utilized in recovery. If a visit NoFap everyday helps you, don’t let my opinion matter. I just believe it can’t be the only source for long-term recovery. It needs to be a tentpole, not the tent.

      I really appreciate you writing so much and giving us your perspective. It’s only through talking about our ways to recovery that we a) stay there and b) others get strength and follow.

  4. Thanks for the recent like on my post and amazing to see you’re recovering from porn addiction! Your blog is real about the realities of it. I pray it inspires many! All the best & blessings.

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