3 minute read

The Biggest Misconception About Quitting Porn

Last Updated: May 20, 2019

John Doyel

John Doyel has dedicated himself to helping men recover from sexual sin and return to God. He leads a recovery ministry at Vineyard Columbus called 180 Recover. He also writes daily emails of encouragement to help believers recover from porn or sex addiction, which you can sign up for on his website or by emailing at doyel@me.com.

After getting 13 years and 8 months into my recovery, and after helping thousands of people deal with porn, I have one specific answer to this issue. The biggest misconception about quitting porn is thinking it won’t be that difficult.

People struggling with porn often think if they just really make it a priority, and perhaps even invite a couple of friends into their recovery journey as an ally, it will be easy-peesy. They get their hopes up believing that making a decision to stop will enable them to stop. However, good intentions never solved any real problem.

Why Is Porn So Difficult to Quit?

Before we can begin to answer the question about how to quit porn, we need to understand why it is such a big universal problem.

Please understand that this is a global pandemic because porn is now available 24/7 around the world. For anyone with internet access, porn is omnipresent, mostly free, and extremely effective as a means of escape from the stress and pain of life.

Many leading experts in this field teach that addiction to porn and sex are as difficult to stop as drugs like morphine and cocaine. By habitually looking at porn, we have hardwired our brains so that the action becomes almost an automatic response to a triggering thought, image, or person. Anyone with a smartphone can find a very effective and almost immediate relief through porn and masturbation virtually anywhere.

Years, if not decades, of this behavior create hard-to-break habits, and it’s so much easier to find the fix than drugs or alcohol. Plus, there are no telltale signs like the smell of alcohol on your breath or being in a drug-induced stupor.

Imagine if you could literally bring up a glass of scotch or wine with your phone for free and consume it. Or if you could literally bring up a line of cocaine and snort it without having to find a dealer, pay for it, and then use it. We would all probably be raging alcoholics and drug addicts.

So, please understand that addiction to porn and sex is as powerful as any addiction to substances. It’s a chemical addiction to the chemicals released by your brain when you become sexually aroused. The same drugs would be released in your brain if you snorted cocaine and these drugs are addictive.

Overcoming Porn Requires Effort

You need to understand that finding freedom from a sex addiction is a process and will take an immense amount of work on your part.

First and foremost, you will have to work through withdrawal. Experts estimate the timeline for withdrawal will be about 90 days. And as you are denying your brain the chemicals it has been receiving, you will have a battle on your hands.

The first few days might go fine but after a week or two you are going to be feeling very agitated, frustrated, anxious, depressed and have incredible cravings for sex. This is very difficult but is normal for withdrawal.

So, someone starts out with very good intentions and finds the battle “impossible” and gives in and falls again. Now more guilt and shame flood your mind and you feel worse than before which only makes you want to act out again. Welcome to the cycle of addiction.

Getting Through Porn Addiction Withdrawal

There are two key things you need to know to help you get through withdrawal.

First, you will need daily support to get through it. You will need someone or somewhere you can get encouragement to keep fighting every day. This is even a biblical thought in Hebrews 3:

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

The 12-Step programs know this well and if you go to an AA, NA, or SA meeting to get help one of the first things they will tell you is you need to go to 90 meetings in 90 days just so you will have daily support to make it through withdrawal.

This is why I share emails and podcasts of encouragement six days a week and send them to thousands of people in 56 nations around the world. Everyone needs daily encouragement to get through withdrawal.

Second, you need to be in a group where you have strong accountability and people available to help you every day. This is why we started our Online Support Teams. We have ten teams of people who meet online every week for strong accountability and then each member of the group stays in touch with the group using GroupMe. They are texting each other every day.

Finally, I have developed the 180 Recovery Program which includes 25 videos and a workbook. This information is a very strong biblically based and practical program that has been helping Christians for over 6 years.

If you want to begin receiving my daily emails, find out more about our Online Support Teams, or purchase the 180 Recovery Program, just email me at doyel@me.com.

It is a very difficult battle that you will not win on your own. Recovery happens in community, and as we like to say, “A lone sheep is a dead sheep.”

  • Comments on: The Biggest Misconception About Quitting Porn
    1. Charles on

      all I can say is facts

      Reply
    2. Orin Leslie on

      You mention 12 step, AA, SA, etc., but not Celebrate Recovery, Why? They are probably the most closely aligned ministry with yours. It’s Biblical and as a ministry leader, I can tell you, a huge portion of their male members attend addiction groups for sexual addiction.

      Reply
      • Paul on

        Amen Orin!

    3. Matthew on

      Hi, so I have a question about what you were saying with the 90 day withdrawal period. So if we are addicted to the chemicals released by sexual arousal then what if during those 90 days I don’t look at porn and don’t masturbate but I do get slightly aroused by certain situations or dirty thoughts, does that still release the chemicals and therefore be a sort of relapse? IDK if I am wording this right but hopefully someone can understand what I am saying and answer my question. Other than that this article is very good.

      Reply
    4. Jolene on

      As the wife of a man who has recently been confronted with his deep addiction but wants to let God do the work in his heart, because I know I can only advocate for behavorial changes, am I to step back from intimacy in our marriage as part of the “withdrawal”?

      Reply
      • Amanda Powell on

        Hi Jolene,

        We are so sorry that you are going thorough this right now. Know that you are not alone and that there is hope! In our blog post, 5 Common Myths about Setting Boundaries, we touch on this subject.

        Myth 2 “you’re just doing this to punish me”
        Partners of porn users often hear this when asking for for physical and emotional space, like separate sleeping arrangements or periods of sexual abstinence.

        Fact: This is one of the many classic gaslighting statements in response to healthy boundaries. In reality, although boundaries may feel like punishment to the one using porn, healthy boundaries are never created for the purpose of seeking retribution. Boundaries are not about doing anything “to” another person; boundaries are about doing something “for” your own soul, to give yourself (and by extension, your relationship) the best possible chance at healing the wounds of sexual betrayal. When a human being feels unsafe, a healthy response involves taking action to protect your fragile and vulnerable heart, mind, body, and soul. This isn’t only your personal right, it’s also your personal responsibility.

        Here is the link to the full blog post, as well as a few others we hope you find helpful.

        https://www.covenanteyes.com/2018/06/20/5-common-myths-about-boundaries/
        https://www.covenanteyes.com/2018/10/09/boundaries-helped-heal-marriage-part-2/
        https://www.covenanteyes.com/2018/09/10/therapeutic-disclosure-what-it-is-and-how-it-can-help-you-heal/

    5. Deanna on

      I have a very different opinion on this matter. I am in no way trying to be disrespectful. First off I WAS an actual drug user! Cocaine and meth. I lied, I hid it. I loved it! I’ve read all these post comparing porn to a drug addiction. How it affects ur brain and so forth. I’m very aware of how drugs effect the body and mind. I had been sitting in my Livingroom one day watching my kids dance around and goof off. I was high as a kite! Then it hit me like a ton of bricks!! At any moment I could get CAUGHT with dope and have my babies taken away from me. Go to jail and not get to be with them. Was my high worth losing my family over?? NO! So I called a friend I had her lock me in a room for DAYS and began the horrid experience of cleaning all the drugs out . I made a CHOICE! I have never touched drugs again and this was 20 yrs ago. I choose my family. Life is nothing but choices. We baby men way to much. We make excuses for there immature behavior. We label everything and make things more complicated than they are. If you want to stop something that’s destroying your family….you STOP! We ALL have urges to do things and we have a choice to do them or not. Society lies to us all the time…..”Oh all me look at porn” Umm NO they don’t. Not all men beat there wives. It has become a “guy thing” and people have just looked over it. That’s just what men do, actually real men don’t. This is the stuff of children. Sneaking off to do something you know will get you in trouble. Immaturity at its best. We baby them, we console them we put up with things we shouldn’t because now its a “mental health issue” No its a choice someone makes its self control! I’ve wanted to hit him in the face I’ve been so mad….yet I didn’t…its a choice! I’ve wanted to run off with someone else just to feel wanted again…yet I didn’t…its a choice! Bottom line Men are not our babies. Its time to just say, ya know what Jack, You want to look at that or do u want ur family? Make a choice and do it! I’m not ur mama to have to babysit you. Be a man or be a child. Its not that hard, if I can stop snorting meth up my nose then people can stop porn. Its almost embarrassing to have absolutely no self control at all. I have to much pride to be treated like a child and have no control over my behavior. He don’t have a “mental problem” he has an immaturity issue and chooses to make bad decisions. Good and bad follows every choice we make. Period. Just my 2 cents! So my advice is this……Grow up! Choose your family or porn! Then let the partner know your choice so she’s not wasting her life on someone that’s wanting her to be mommy and not wife! As for me I’m done babysitting boys. Get it together or get out. Life is to short !!I Take charge of ur life, grow up stop acting like a child and being selfish! I did it, excuses don’t work with me. Choices…….plain and simple.

      Reply
      • Thomas on

        Spot on.

    6. Debra on

      Deanna,
      Great comment! Many partners hurt by this vile behavior feel like you do. Though your comment may not be pc, it sure does check off the boxes of many of us that have been betrayed for years by these “addicted” man boys.

      Reply

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