Being an ally, or accountability partner, in someone’s journey to overcome porn is a privilege and a responsibility. Most people are honored when asked to be an ally. It shows that the addicted person trusts them and wants them to be part of their recovery process.
However, some people are hesitant to be an ally. This is often because they are not sure what being an ally like this requires. They may believe they are responsible for maintaining the addicted person’s sobriety. This is not the case.
The addicted person is fully responsible for his/her own sobriety and recovery. The ally is simply a caring individual there to help the addicted person stay on track. If you agree to be someone’s ally, you might wonder how you can be the best ally and truly help your friend.
That being said, here are some tips:
1. Be Compassionate
It took a lot of courage and humility for your friend to ask you to be an ally in their journey to overcome porn. Obviously they trust you. You need to respect that trust by maintaining confidentiality.
Recovery is hard work. Your friend will most likely be attending 12-step meetings and counseling sessions, reading about pornography addiction and recovery, and striving to develop healthy living habits. It’s important for you to encourage him in these endeavors.
Give him credit for all his hard work. Celebrate with him any victories he experiences in his recovery process. If he falls, be there to help him up and get back on the track of recovery. Let him know you are always there to help him any way you can.
2. Be Tough
As an ally, you will probably be checking in with your friend daily. This should usually be done in person or by phone. I don’t recommend using email or texts for daily check-ins.
When you have your daily check-in, don’t simply ask how he’s doing. Instead, be ready to ask tough questions, such as, “What are you doing today to maintain your sobriety?” and, “How are you dealing with triggers today?”
If he has a slip and views pornography, don’t be afraid to ask, “What was the trigger for the slip?” and, “What are you doing to prevent this slip from happening again?” Don’t be afraid to challenge your friend.
While these may be difficult conversations to have, they will go a long way in helping your friend in recovery. You can balance them out by also discussing any victories your friend has had, such as successfully getting through a difficult situation that would have led him to view pornography in the past. Offer encouragement for the work he is doing in recovery. Daily check-ins should always end on a positive note.
3. Never Give Up
Recovery from pornography addiction involves a series of victories and defeats. The beginning of recovery usually holds more defeats than victories. However, as time goes on and your friend progresses through the recovery process, the victories come to outnumber the defeats. Before long, the victories are plenty and the defeats are few and far between. Eventually, the defeats become virtually nonexistent.
This process can take several years, so you need to be totally committed to your friend by being a constant source of support and accountability. When he slips up, be there to encourage him to persevere in recovery. Never give up on him no matter how many times he falls. Knowing you’re there to support him could be the encouragement he needs to persevere to make the victories outnumber the defeats!
4. Don’t Write Yourself Off as an Ally If You’ve Struggled Before
It’s been my experience that those who have also struggled with a pornography addiction often make the best allies. This allows both individuals to be sources of accountability for each other–a twofold benefit.
You Understand What They’re Going Through
Each individual truly understands what the other is experiencing. While a person who does not struggle with a porn addiction can be a good ally, he or she may never fully understand what it means to be addicted. Working with an ally who understands the addiction makes it easier to talk about it. This makes it easier to let go of the shame associated with the addiction so one can be fully open and honest about it.
You Can Work Together
A greater sense of teamwork can come when two individuals who struggle with pornography addiction keep each other accountable. This can help strengthen their commitment to recovery by placing a greater emphasis on staying sober and on helping one’s friend stay sober.
It’s also easier to turn to this friend when struggling with temptation, and it’s easier to confess slips. Together they can work on developing strategies for avoiding slips in the future.
Healthy lifelong friendships have developed as a result of being allies. This further contributes to healthy recovery.
5. The Best Allies Are the Same Sex as the Struggler
I also believe the best ally is someone of the same sex as the addicted person. Now I don’t mean to appear sexist here. It’s simply that people often find it easier to talk about issues pertaining to sexuality with individuals of the same sex. For example, it can be difficult for a person to talk about his/her use of pornography and masturbation with someone of the opposite sex. It’s just naturally easier to discuss these things with someone of the same sex.
Share in the Victory
While being an ally may seem like a lot of work, it’s actually easier than you’d think. It takes a daily phone call that lasts between 10 to 20 minutes and a commitment to never give up.
The rewards, however, are immeasurable. You can experience firsthand how a person enslaved by pornography addiction can find freedom. You will be able to share in the victories as your friend overcomes his addiction. This experience is priceless!