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The Path of Recovery
If you’ve come to this page, you may be ready to seek help and begin the healing process. Maybe you’ve tried to overcome porn use in the past and failed. There is hope! Let’s first look at what does and doesn’t work:
What Doesn’t Work:
- Trying to overcome pornography use on your own
- Believing that praying more and being more religious will take it away
- Minimizing the problem, hoping it will just go away
- Hiding the problem from your wife
- Being too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help
What Does Work:
- Admitting to your self and at least one other person that you have a problem
- Taking responsibility for getting help
- Letting go of shame associated with pornography addiction
- Seeking the help you need
- Being accountable to others
- Walking with the Lord every day in recovery
- Being willing to do whatever it takes to recover!
Over the past ten years I have evaluated many recovery programs. I have seen what works and what doesn’t work. From them I have developed a 7-point plan for recovery that includes the best of what does work. The Integrity Starts Here! program is the first Catholic recovery program for people struggling with pornography addiction
The Integrity Starts Here! Recovery Program
1. Honesty, Self-knowledge and Commitment: This point focuses on being honest with yourself, others, and God about your addiction. There can be no denial in recovery. This includes taking responsibility for your addiction, the consequences of it, and for your recovery. Self-knowledge means acknowledging your weaknesses. This requires monitoring your emotions and behaviors, and identifying your triggers for acting out. It also means identifying your danger zones where you are more likely to be triggered. Finally, it means developing the strategies needed to avoid acting out. Above all, successful recovery requires a total commitment to the process.
2. Purifying Your Life: This starts with ridding your life of all pornography and anything else that might tempt you to act out sexually. For most men, it means monitoring all technology and setting clear boundaries. Purification also applies to your heart and mind. You will need to change the way you feel about pornography, realizing that it’s simply about using and exploiting women. You will learn how the women in pornography are truly victims, and that by viewing it you are contributing to their victimization. The goal is to ultimately be repulsed by pornography, both intellectually and emotionally.
3. Support and Accountability: To be successful in recovery you will need to surround yourself with other men truly who understand your struggle. They will ensure you adhere to your program and help you up if you fall. You will be doing the same for them. It is this kind of teamwork and fellowship that can keep a man sober. Here is where recovery groups, such as Sexaholics Anonymous, are needed.
4. Counseling: With the first three points of the program you can achieve sobriety; however, if this is all you do, you will end up simply “white-knuckling it.” Eventually you will fall back into acting out. In Alcoholics Anonymous this is known as a “dry drunk.” The reason for this is that you have not identified and resolved the root cause(s) of your addiction. Here is where counseling is important. You may have heard the term “self-medicating.” Often when a person is hurting emotionally, he will use a substance, such as sex or pornography to ease the pain. This is self-medicating. The goal of counseling is to identify and heal the wounds that led you to use pornography to self-medicate. Once this is done, lasting sobriety can be achieved. This is true recovery.
5. Spiritual Plan: A close intimate relationship with God is important for successful recovery. Here is where one finds the strength and grace to persevere. Unfortunately, many addicts do not have a healthy relationship with God. Because of their shame, they believe that God could never love them. Or they might be angry with God because of certain tragedies in their lives. Others may have an unhealthy image of God because of struggles with their own fathers. By developing a healthy relationship with God, you can truly experience His great love. You will also find it easier to discern God’s will for your life. This can provide greater hope, strength and determination to persevere in recovery. Use of the sacraments, scripture, and Saints are an integral part of the program.
6. Education: In order to recover from an addiction, you must truly understand it. It’s important to know how a person becomes addicted to pornography physically and emotionally, and to understand the recovery process. You must understand how addictions affect personal lives and relationships, and how to protect yourself and your family. Many men who are addicted also need to learn about healthy sexuality and relationships. Thus, education plays a crucial role in recovery. In chapter 8 various books, DVDs, conferences, etc. will be recommended for education.
7. Virtue: Along with a Spiritual Plan, this point is what makes this program uniquely Catholic. The essence of a Christian life is virtue. When we strive to live virtuously, we can avoid sin, conquer selfishness, love others as God loves, and truly serve the Lord. Moreover, one of the best ways to fight a vice is with virtue. In this program, you will be challenged daily to grow in virtue. You will be given exercises to help you practice virtue in your daily life. This will help you become the man God intended you to be: a true leader, provider and protector. When men make living a virtuous life their mission, it’s becomes easy to avoid sin. It’s also easier to discern God’s will for your life. This is what gets men excited about life and recovery. It’s not about what they are getting away from (e.g. pornography); it’s about what they are moving toward: becoming true men of God - men of valor.
I call this a seven-point plan of recovery and not a seven-step plan because each point is of equal importance. They all need to be worked on in unison. This is not difficult as the points overlap. True success comes when recovery becomes a lifestyle. When this happens, working on all points daily becomes easy.
It has been my experience that when all points of the plan are addressed daily, sobriety and recovery can be achieved. Often when a man reports he has fallen into using porn, at least one of the points was not addressed.
The first step in recovery is asking for help. This is done by finding a qualified therapist who can work with you to develop and effective recovery program. I have worked with hundreds of men to overcome pornography use and addiction. I want to invite you to contact my office to schedule an appointment and to begin the healing process. Click here to contact me.