Prepare for a Post-COVID Explosion of Porn Addicts and An Idea to Keep From Going Stir Crazy

Note: I posted this on LinkedIn this morning, but I think it makes sense here, too.

The saying goes that idle hands are the devil’s plaything, and I think that’s never been more literally true. There are a lot of men and women in this world whose COVID-19 idle hands are likely turning them to online pornography. Not all will end up as addicts, but some probably will who never would have otherwise.

In a world where PornHub is offering premium access to Italian residents in a quarantine PR stunt and other sites are bracing for record-shattering traffic, I fear that porn addiction statistics are going to skyrocket during this worldwide pandemic.

In a normal scenario, I think most of us preach the opposite of social isolation to those seeking recovery from pornography addiction. Now, we’re encouraging everybody to embrace the aloneness.

I only did 12-Step groups for most of that first year of recovery, but they were crucial, as were weekly face-to-face appointments with my therapist and another weekly support group I participated in. Had they all been cancelled, and I was left alone, I don’t think I would have had the strength to abstain that first year, or maybe two.

I think about all of those men and women who have tried to kick the addiction on their own to this point. Many of them are stuck white-knuckling it through their seemingly endless days and even longer nights.

I’m worried about those who will never see the addiction coming. I’m worried about women who think porn addiction only happens to guys or older people who think it’s a younger person’s problem. I worry about people who have told themselves they use porn “recreationally” and didn’t have a problem who now are utilizing it two, three or four times more than usual. I’m worried about younger guys and gals who have never looked at online porn regularly who now find themselves discovering just how deep and dark the world gets and I’m worried about those who are addicted and are escalating the extreme nature of the content they are looking at because nothing else in the closed-for-business world can tweak their pleasure centers.

And the answer is… we have no perfect answers. It doesn’t matter how many letters you have after your name, whether you fancy yourself a pornography addiction expert or not, whether you’ve been an addict or not, or which spiritual building/book/deity you prefer. We’ve never seen a global health crisis in the age of the Internet, nor in a world where porn is so pervasive.

A few days ago, I put out a message on LinkedIn letting people know if they wanted a non Covid-19 person their podcast, I could talk porn addiction, and I was expecting one or two reactions. I’m booked on four shows and did two over the weekend. We actually talked a lot about being stuck at home and the lure of pornography.

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I came up with one potential solution that everybody who feels like they’re on house arrest can utilize. It once helped me. Maybe it can help you in the coming days when it feels like the walls are closing in on you.

For those who don’t know, I once did six months in county jail. With few people to talk to and my safety never an issue, it only took a couple of weeks before I was going stir crazy. The key to keeping my shit together was routine, scheduling and knowing what was coming next.

I always knew the next 2-3 things I was going to do, whether they would take 15 minutes (doing a Sudoku puzzle) or 2 hours (watching another insipid superhero movie on FX or USA). I knew what I was going to do after that, and after that. It allowed me to create the illusion that I was always busy, had a full schedule and always had something else to do.

My activities were reading the newspaper, writing letters, cleaning the pod, reading books, doing Sudoku, doing crossword puzzles, talking on the phone, exercising, showering, writing books, napping, reading the newspaper, playing cards, talking to people and watching TV. I’m sure there were other things I did and don’t remember, but I always had a basic structure for my day, even if the specific tasks weren’t always the same. Sticking to a schedule and having a plan for my day allowed me to have some of the normalcy of my busy life in the outside world and I think maintaining that structure allowed me to reintegrate much easier than I expected.

If you’re an addict, partner of an addict or help addicts and need to talk, I’m here, by email, telephone or video call. If you’re looking for something to read, I’ve got a ton of blog entries on this website and my books are on Amazon. If you’re looking for resources, this site can help, or I can help you find what you need as well. And if you need a podcast guest, my headphones are always ready.

I have no magical answers. Nobody does. But when you think about, we don’t even in the best times either. We just pretend we don’t need each other as much, so maybe that’s a lesson we can take from this weird era in history we’re living through. We need each other so much more than we admit or recognize.

9 thoughts on “Prepare for a Post-COVID Explosion of Porn Addicts and An Idea to Keep From Going Stir Crazy

  1. This is a great post. I was thinking the same thing myself. Boredom and isolation are entrances into addiction. For anyone fighting an addiction, being forced to be alone in the environment that triggers the addiction is going to make resisting the addiction extremely difficult. There are no easy answers …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When I was 23 or 24, 9/11 happened. Work let us go home at 11 a.m. or so. What commenced once I got back to my apartment was drinking, smoking weed and watching porn, while the TV was on in the background. That was my next few days until we went back to work. I can only imagine what I would have been like with the added anxiety of potential illness and poverty. Maybe I would have sped up my eventual crash by a decade.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the things that is good about the internet is that there’s quite a few sites that offer free online courses, which makes for a productive distraction from stir crazy mind.

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    1. As I wrote a week or two ago, the anxiety I was feeling lifted, just as this started hitting full force. I think the relative lack of change in my life has put me at ease while others lose their shit and face the horrible news on TV. I’m always anxious and full of dread to some degree. When you’re a pro, it’s weird to see amateurs trying to deal with these emotions for the first time. You know everything is going to be OK because it always is…you just have to muddle through it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good tip. I feel like having a bit of a routine can keep you grounded and the days seems to be normal. As far as addiction goes it’s really hard I think to beat one on your own but being alone can help you with thinking what your steps could be, why you want to quit and what a good strategy could be. The fase 1 or the pondering stage. I think we need to make the best out of it. As for a warning for people to get not too involved or just not with addictive things, your message is received loud and clearly!

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  4. On your scheduling-for-sanity idea (which is very useful BTW) I take a sort of reverse approach to it these days. I use a simple app called Epic Win. It’s made to look game-y but all it really does is let you record stuff you do through the day. I’ve developed quite a list of “useful” things to do and I just check them off as I do them. So, there’s a little less dithering when I don’t know what to do next and I find the cumulative list at the end of the day stops the ‘another day wasted’ feeling I’m rather prone to.

    Thanks for your posts Josh, always get something out of them.

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