Figuring Out if You’re A Casual or Problem User of Pornography

For this article, I’m going to suspend the discussion of whether pornography use in moderation is not unhealthy or if there is any moral component to the decision to utilize pornography. I’ll tackle those issues later on. For now, I simply want to provide a list of questions that people who are wondering if they have an issue with pornography can ask themselves to better understand their situation.

I think words like addiction, habit, obsession, compulsion and problem are more subjective than objective. Their definitions can be fluid and feature a lot of crossover from one term to the other. Ultimately, it’s up to you to honestly decide whether you have an issue or not with pornography and more importantly, what you’re going to do about it should you conclude there may be something there.

For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that much like there are people who can drink, play video games, gamble or eat in moderation – yet are not addicted, nor have a problem – that there are also people who can view and utilize pornography in moderation. At what point does “recreational” use start to bleed into being a problem? Asking yourself these questions may help point you in the right direction:

Is there any sort of trauma in your past? This doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual abuse, either. It can be physical or emotional. Roughly 90% of full-blown addicts of anything can trace their past to find some kind of meaningful trauma. With porn addicts, the number is 94%. That still leaves an opening to be an addict with no pre-existing trauma, but the two often go hand-in-hand. If your parent killed themselves in front of you, a sibling molested you, or any number of other major negative events in your life happened as a young person, addiction may be a symptom of how you deal with that trauma.

Is there any co-occurring disorder or previous addiction existing? While not at the numbers of trauma and addiction, more full-blown addicts have some kind of mental health issue than those who don’t.  These mental health problems may include bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety and a number of other diagnoses. Also, it is very easy for someone who is addicted to one substance or behavior to become addicted to another. Addictive behavior is not limited to one addiction at a time, although there are people who trade addictions, successfully battling one obsession only to take on another.

Are you addicted to pornography or masturbation? In my case, it didn’t take long to recognize once the porn was removed from my life, masturbation dropped to almost nothing. I masturbated more as an indicator to end a porn-viewing session than anything else. There are many people who have the opposite story. They were able to easily stop watching porn because it turned out pleasuring themselves was their actual vice. There’s a fairly easy way to determine which you’re addicted to, or if it’s both. For the next week or two, allow yourself to look at porn, but don’t utilize it to masturbate. Conversely, masturbate all you want, but do it without visual aids. You should be able to determine a trend among obsessive thoughts where your addictions truly lay.

Are there rituals around your use? Addicts generally use in the same way almost all the time. My alcohol use, which was certainly an addiction, came with rituals. I never drank cans of beer. It was either a bottle or in a pint glass when I was away from home. Corona, specifically, couldn’t touch my lips without a lemon or lime wedge. At home, I didn’t drink beer, just tequila and Red Bull. I’d only drink at night at home, and it always had to be in one of the three large plastic tumblers we had. I always poured the tequila and Red Bull the same way, almost parfait-style. First a dash of Red Bull, then tequila, then Red Bull, then tequila, and so on until the tumbler was full. That’s routine, or ritual and is common with addicts.

Do you lie to others, or yourself, about your usage? OK, it’s pornography, I get it. We all want to pretend that we’ve never looked at it, despite statistics saying those that don’t are in the massive minority. When the topic of pornography comes up in mixed company, do you stay quiet? Do you try to hide the role pornography plays in your life, especially the amount of time spent looking? Would you like about the time you spend if asked point-blank? When you’re finished looking at it, do you make deals with yourself that you won’t spend as much time engaged in the activity, yet you can’t keep the promises to yourself? Are you spending any money on pornography outside of typical Internet fees? Do you find yourself sometimes picking isolating to look at porn over other activities? Do you rationalize that the time you spend or material you look at is not as extreme as others with addiction, so if they have a problem, you have less than a problem? The answers are all small red flags that add up.

I am by no means a doctor, but do know how I answered these questions when I was in the throes of my addiction. I’ve also done more research and met more pornography addicts than most professionals, not to mention I’ve been through plenty of group and one-on-one therapy for my formerly rampant addictions. I understand if you don’t like your answers and want to discredit my opinion…but that may also be a sign you want to avoid the truth about your addiction.

As I mentioned earlier, anybody can diagnose you as an addict, but what matters is that you believe you have a problem. More importantly is deciding what you’re going to do about it. Next time, we’ll talk about what to do next when you’ve reached the conclusion you need to do something about your problem.

 

Back to School, err, Back to Blogging

Well, I’ve just renewed my domain name, so I guess you’re stuck with me for another year. I’m back from my blogging sabbatical. I probably made it sound like I just wanted to sit around the pool, and I did plenty of that early on, but I was a busy man this summer.

A long, relatively not strange trip

Two days ago, I returned from a massive road trip that was basically the entire month of August. I left Maine and drove west, then south with my daughter. We met my son and wife in San Francisco (they flew in) then traveled to Los Angeles where we met my brother’s family (they live there) and my parents (they flew in). We all went to Las Vegas, then just my father and I drove back to Maine. I was extremely lucky to spend so much time with people who helped me through my legal ordeal and recovery over the last six years.

In a way, I looked at the trip almost as a victory lap, or end of the legal part of the journey (I’m no longer on probation…read about it HERE) and sort of a way to hit the reset button before beginning the next chapter of my life. I drove, without help, 8,800 miles in 27 days, with 6 days not involving any driving.

I am also proud to say that I didn’t succumb to my porn or alcohol addictions. You want difficult? Try not to drink in Las Vegas. This is why I believe we face our triggers, not run from them.

I didn’t mention the trip on here because I didn’t want 101 suggestions of where to go since the 13 months planning the trip was a kind of solitary therapy. I tried to build the best trip for my family, depending on who was with me at the time. In the next week or two, I have to write my reviews for Trip Advisor, and I’ll include them here. I also didn’t talk about the trip because advertising your house is going to be empty is stupid.

Here are a few photos of my travels the last month through Grand Canyon, White Sands National Monument and the St. Louis Gateway Arch.

Read All About It

My other big news is that the manuscript of my second book, titled “He’s a Porn Addict…What Now? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions” is going through the late stages of editing, the cover is being created, marketing plans devised, etc. at the publisher.

I’ve written the book with the brilliant Tony Overbay, and if you don’t follow his site or listen to his podcast, I urge you to subscribe. Get all his info HERE.

You’re going to get sick of me talking about this book in the next year, so I’ll save the long-windedness for another day. I don’t have an official release date yet, but I imagine it will be late 2019 or early 2020.

One quick mention I should make is to all of the ladies on WordPress who have had to deal with their partners’ issues with sex and pornography. You were both the inspiration to write the book and many of you were helpful when I needed something explained.

Thank you for sticking with me through my absence. I added a few new followers and was surprised that I managed more hits than David Bowie’s later years over the summer. I promise that I’ll be contributing much more in upcoming weeks and months and look forward to hearing your stories as well.

Guest Blog: How Prayer Can Help You to Overcome Your Addiction

Note from Josh: While I take an extended break this summer, I wanted to provide some kind of content, so Patrick Bailey was once again nice enough to contribute several entries you’ll read over the next few weeks.

By Patrick Bailey

The work of treatment centers is to get you sober, but staying sober is a lifelong process. Holistic therapy provides various mechanisms for coping with addiction. While holistic therapy is a great way of addressing the root of the addiction to prevent a relapse, inspiration to overcome addiction is necessary for overcoming it for good.

But how do you find a lasting inspiration in a world full of fleeting motivational speakers who inspire you for just one hour? When they leave, you are left with the same if not worse struggles for days, months or even years. The solution for lasting inspiration lies in prayers.

The Power of Prayer

Whether you are religious or not, mantras or prayers can be a valuable practice for positive affirmation. Prayers bolster a holistic therapy when dealing with pornography, or any other addiction for that matter.. For examples, the serenity prayer, which was created by Reinhold Niebuhr is one of the routine prayers in the recovery process. The prayer provides an insight into self-realization by showing that you cannot control everything in life while also acknowledging the struggles that you face daily as you seek for a way towards recovery and serenity. Such prayers are effective in reinforcing positive thinking when repeated daily to ward off cravings.

Abby Willowroot also came up with one of the most inspirational prayers in the path to recovery from addiction. The Recovery Prayer is a reaffirmation of your awareness that it takes strength to recover. Such an affirmation can remind you to keep pressing on, in spite of the difficulties and temptations that come your way on a daily basis. Remaining positive in the fight against addiction is crucial if a person is to avoid relapsing.

Addiction is perceived as spiritual warfare in the Christian faith. It is seen as temptation, which leads to sin when you succumb, however, it leads to glory in eternal life when you remain strong and overcome the cravings. The Easter story in Christian faith is centered on the goodness of God in choosing to become human. The pain and suffering that Jesus went through allow a believer to turn to Jesus because he understands your afflictions based on his own suffering on the cross. The total healing of a person from the chains of addiction is linked to the wounds of Jesus at the cross, which is a message of hope for anyone battling addiction.

Sheer willpower can take you far when fighting addiction. Inspiration towards being a loving father or mother and a devoted spouse are crucial elements in the recovery process but willpower will only take you thus far, as you may have learned in your battle against pornography addiction. When life stresses kick in, it is easy to find yourself back in the same boat facing the same problems and struggles. That’s why turning to greater power for inspiration is crucial. In a world full of judgmental people, revealing your secret to everyone can be counterproductive. This is why turning to God with all your secret struggles is such a reassuring gesture especially in your time of desperation.

Holistic Therapy

Prayer provides a holistic therapy in that it focuses on making you whole again from a spiritual perspective that addresses the roots of your addiction. Like a holistic treatment approach, which is often used alongside other conventional treatments, prayers should be incorporated as a daily practice and a source of strength especially when addiction urges are strong. In conventional medical facilities, medication is provided to ease withdrawal symptoms. Such an approach may not work when addressing addiction because some of the medications used in conventional treatment, such as fentanyl, cause addiction. It is crucial to find a holistic treatment approach that does not expose you to potential-addictive substances to prevent other addictions. When you emerge from these treatment and recovery centers, you are armed with the knowledge that will help you to stay sober, but the ups and downs of life may bring you down to where you began. Hence, inspiration through prayer should be incorporated as a daily practice towards maintaining positive thinking and clarity to fight addiction.

Secrets weigh down on you and can hold power against you when they remain hidden. Any pornography addict can certainly relate to a world of secrets. It is a solace to know that you cannot keep secrets from God. When you empty the secrets of your struggle to God in prayer, the weight of these secrets subsides. This is why mantras and prayers have been widely used in recovery and treatment programs. Science supports prayer as an effective tool for lowering blood pressure, relaxing the body and uplifting your mood. Therefore, prayers can be highly beneficial when recited in high tension or stressful situations.

The effectiveness of different prayers depends on beliefs and faith of the person. Addiction can blind a person from the goodness inherent in them. During such times you can find it easier to believe in eternal goodness. A spiritual awareness through prayer can help you begin to recognize the external goodness, which instigates the reconnection to the inherent goodness inside of your whole being. Some prayer can help you to separate your individuality from addiction, which is causal in letting off the burden of addiction.

Prayer and forgiveness work in tandem. During times of addiction, turning to prayers and feeling God’s forgiveness can be powerful tools for overcoming addiction. The warmth and acceptance that someone feels through forgiveness from God and other people who are hurt by the addictive lifestyle can be astonishing. Not only does it help a person to find forgiveness from God, but it is also a powerful weapon for personal forgiveness, which acts against self-blame to uplift you towards revisiting your life choices. The effects of fentanyl addiction such as seizures, slowed breathing, euphoria, drowsiness, headaches, and itching can be a thing of the past when one embraces a powerful method like prayer to beat addiction. Forgiveness can help you achieve a feeling of love, abiding peace and assurance in life.

One Day at a Time

Beating addiction is a struggle that you need to take one day at a time to avoid the pressure of surviving the whole process. Some prayers remind you that it is important to approach the problem one moment at a time so that you can manage the anxiety that comes with the early stages of recovery. Through such prayers, you are reminded that the problems you face are temporary and that they will subside, which helps with focusing on one issue at a time. Thinking far ahead is a major source of anxiety. The daily practice of prayer reminds you of taking a day at a time until you reach a point of complete recovery. The rest of the Serenity Prayer is a reminder that living one day at a time is a crucial factor in finding peace. The prayer can give you a different perspective for approaching addiction not as a problem meant to limit you but as a challenge raised to strengthen you.

One of the most powerful prayers against addiction is St Jude’s prayer, which perceives addiction as an illness and that the addict is not alone in the battle against addiction. The prayers affirm the messages of God’s unconditional love. It further asserts on the message of self-awareness to help you gain control of your life through acknowledging that God is always available to help you to realize the best state of health. Many treatments and recovery options are available for the addicted person but a holistic approach to address the root of addiction should incorporate the power of prayer.

Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

 

Guest Blog: Understanding Depression During Addiction Recovery

Note from Josh: While I take an extended break this summer, I wanted to provide some kind of content, so Patrick Bailey was once again nice enough to contribute several entries you’ll read over the next few weeks.

By Patrick Bailey

People who have gone through withdrawal or have witnessed someone suffer because of addiction understand how difficult it is. Besides the physical discomfort and pain, people in this process suffer from devastating depression that makes the recovery even more difficult.

Depression is a mental illness that can affect anyone and anywhere in the world, even those in rehabs. According to the report released by the Center for Disease Control, 10 percent of physician’s visit is because of depression. The World Health Organization reports that it is the leading cause of disability.

Depression is a mental illness that can happen anytime. In fact, it often strikes during recovery from alcohol or substance abuse and addiction. The symptoms often show during the first few weeks or months of the recovery phase. It is therefore essential that the treatment facility, be it a regular type or a luxury rehab in California, offers dual diagnosis treatment in order to effectively provide care should depression happen during recovery.

Causes of Depression During Recovery

There are many factors that could cause depression during the addiction recovery process. This includes the following:

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or simply PAWS is the usual phenomenon related to recovery. Depression can function as PAWS and commonly happens in the days or weeks after symptoms of acute withdrawal died down. The symptoms of acute withdrawal often coincide with detoxification and linger until the first few weeks of recovery. On the other hand, depressive symptoms can last for months during the recovery stage.

Changes to the brain related to addiction

During addiction, the brain is affected by alcohol or drugs. When you go to a rehab or a treatment facility, you are treated. As a result, your brain adjusts to the effects of the substances by decreasing the production of neurotransmitters that give you the high or feel good sensation. This includes dopamine, GABA, and serotonin.

These neurotransmitters are responsible for modulating your mood or simply tell you how you should feel. When these chemicals are at their optimum levels they can be translated as a positive outlook or a good mood. When these neurotransmitters are at their lowest levels, this could manifest as depression.

During the early stage of recovery, when the brain is still adjusting to life without harmful substances like alcohol or drugs, depression can happen due to low levels of dopamine, GABA, and serotonin. This usually happens approximately 90 days without drugs or alcohol. A brain functioning lower than normal and producing lower levels of these neurotransmitters can show symptoms of depression ranging between mild and severe.

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis has a higher chance of occurring to people with substance addiction. Although there are also other factors at play such as family history. Usually, an untreated dual diagnosis like bipolar disorder, major depression, and other depressive mental issues may be the reason for depression during recovery. After all, there is a strong link between alcoholism and dual diagnosis as well as depression and substance addiction. Several studies show that many cases of substance addiction are due to the patient’s effort to numb the pain he is feeling.

Feelings of despair

Most patients undergo the stage where they grieve for the loss of drugs or alcohol in their life. This usually happens at the start of the recovery process. Letting go of your old habits or addiction, however crucial to your well-being, can still cause you to feel a sense of loss. In addition, emotions that were once repressed by alcohol or drugs can suddenly arise causing sudden negative changes in your mood.

Symptoms

During the addiction recovery stage, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of depressions. Signs can include the following symptoms that could manifest alone, or all at the same time:

  • Persistent emotional numbness or being in a sad, empty, or low mood
  • Recurrence of negative thoughts
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty to focus or concentrate
  • Changes in appetite (eating remarkable more or significantly less)
  • Having trouble sleeping, oversleeping, or staying asleep
  • Lack of motivation for hobbies that you once loved
  • Feeling of worthlessness
  • Frequent feeling of being guilty

If you or your loved one is experiencing or manifesting any of the symptoms listed for a couple of weeks or more, consult a healthcare professional about this.

Risks of Untreated Depression

Clinical depression that goes untreated and allowed to progress can compromise your recovery in rehab centers, treatment facilities, or wherever you are admitted. This is applicable especially during the first few weeks of the recovery stage when cravings are at their strongest. Negative emotions like anger, grief, sadness, feeling of helplessness, can trigger anyone to go back to their old habit.

There is also a great chance that the patient will have the urge to escape the facility because of the painful situation he is undergoing. Patients usually report ebbing of suicidal thoughts. The worst thing that could happen when depression happens during recovery is drug or alcohol relapse. Going back to alcohol or substance at this stage could have fatal results because of the high risk of overdose and deadly health effects.

Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

Guest Article: Making Early Porn Addiction Recovery Easier

Note From Josh: When Patrick Bailey asked if he could share the following article, I thought it was perfect. Learn more about Patrick, and his extensive health writing, at the end of this article.

By Patrick Bailey
Living in recovery from porn addiction can be a lifelong process full of challenges and wins. There are many emotions attached to your journey and navigating your new lifestyle may feel impossible at times. Luckily, the healthier habits you build over time will become easier as you understand your own behaviors from a psychological standpoint. Treating your journey of recovery with patience and compassion will help you move forward as a happy and fulfilled person who sees an optimistic future ahead.

Stay In Treatment

Contrary to popular belief, treatment is a tool you can use for life, not just from the period where you transition from facing your addiction into the beginning of recovery. In fact, the most successful treatments are ones you can integrate into your new lifestyle for the extra professional support. Rewiring your brain and practicing healthy behaviors is not something you need to go through alone. Because addiction can also impact other unhealthy coping mechanisms, consider holistic treatment or an inpatient approach to start your recovery with the most support. There are plenty of licensed psychologists and inpatient treatment centers available for you to lean on, both at the start of your recovery and throughout your new life.

“Crowd Out” Old Habits

Crowding out your old habits will be the easiest way to move forward from any unhealthy behaviors you’ve relied on in the past. Recovery may seem daunting at first, especially if your entire lifestyle has centered around your porn addiction. There is no shame in working hard to create the new lifestyle you want, and there will be moments where you’ll need to dig deep or ask for help in building a new habit to replace an unhealthy one. These new habits will strengthen over time and your patience will pay off after you’ve practiced filling your world with routines and thinking patterns that fulfill you.
Lean on resources and literature for ideas as you integrate healthy coping mechanisms to address your impulses and desires in ways that work for you.

Build Your Support System

The quality of your support system will help you feel encouraged and far less alone on your journey of recovery. Porn addiction can be isolating as people may not understand your struggles or experiences so far, but you can nurture a strong support system no matter how alone you feel right now. Even one high quality friend or therapist can make all the difference in supporting your healthy lifestyle. Check out hotlines,
support groups in your area, and even peer support advocates who are willing and able to be there as you challenge yourself. Learning to ask for help will be one of the most critical skills you will need to master in order to navigate future challenges, so make the practice a part of your early recovery.

Making recovery from porn addiction easier requires being able to ask for help and connecting yourself with the resources available to support you. Changing your habits can be mentally and emotionally draining, but will pay off in a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle when you find appropriate outlets for your emotions and desires. Living your truth as a recovering addict is a journey that will last for life, so lean on these resources to make your experience positive and manageable.

Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

I’ve Returned After Dealing with A Mental Health Crisis

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything here. I promised myself that I wouldn’t post just for the sake of it as a New Year’s resolution and unlike just about every other resolution, I really seem to be sticking to it…maybe almost too much.

Most of my absence over the last month-and-a-half has to do with the fact that I have been battling a bout of anxiety unlike I’ve ever felt in my life. I’ve always been an anxious person, but this involved things that I could intellectually recognize were false – like my sudden aversion to make left turns in the car – but I still had crippling fear. Thankfully, my doctor put me on two new medications and they appear to be starting to work in earnest.

I stay on top of my mental health these days as if it were a full-time job. I’m 43 years old now and was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder at 22 and bipolar disorder at 26. While I was in and out of therapy and generally took medication as prescribed, I was not militant in watching my mental health, especially in my mid-30s.

Instead of making sure my mental health was taken care of – and taking steps to correct it if not – I used my addictions to pornography and alcohol as the crutches to get me through the tough days. The stress and anxiety I felt in life was like a fire and my addictions were a bucket of water used to temporarily extinguish them.

Except it wasn’t a bucket of water. It was more like a bucket of gasoline. And with years and years of throwing gasoline on that fire, it was destined to eventually burn out of control.

That inferno came to a head five years ago last week, when I was arrested for crossing the line in looking at pornography that strayed from “young woman” to “older girl.” I never would have ever guessed I could be the kind of person who crosses past the line of legality, but I was at the end of a long run of not taking care of mental health.

I look back to that day and while it was the rock bottom moment of my life, I also wonder how much further rock bottom would have got had it not been for the police intervention. I wonder if I’d actually be here today or if my addictions would have led me to an early death.

The best thing for me to do a month ago was step away from my work, step away from this blog and simply focus on my mental health. My therapist put it to me so I didn’t feel guilty shying away from my usual responsibilities. She said that if I had broken both of my hands, I’d simply need to sit there and let them heal before I moved forward. Since I was in a time of crisis with my mental health, I needed to simply sit there and heal before I moved forward. Just because you can see the broken hands but not the broken mind doesn’t mean it’s equally as important to let heal.

I urge you if you think you have any mental health issues to see your primary care physician to discuss it and potentially get referred to a therapist or psychiatrist. There is no shame in taking care of yourself mentally, and as I showed from my neglect, the consequences can be damning.