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10 Indisputable Rules to Guide Your Recovery From Porn

Last Updated: January 14, 2020

Mark Denison
Mark Denison

Mark Denison, D.Min., along with his wife Beth, is the founder of There’s Still Hope, a national sexual addiction recovery ministry. Mark has a Master’s in Addiction Recovery, is a certified PSAP (Pastoral Sex Addiction Professional), and is an active member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Mark is a former church planter, pastor (30 years), NBA chaplain, and university board chairman. Mark has written four books on recovery: Porn in the Pew, 365 Days to Sexual Integrity, A 90-Day Recovery Guide, and Porn-Free in 40 Days.

Thousands of books have been written on the subject of addiction and recovery. In just a few minutes on your smart device, you can find dozens of resources: therapists, seminars, 12-step groups, and conferences. In my quest to learn all I can about recovery, I have earned a Master’s Degree from Liberty and completed certification as a PSAP.

But let’s keep it simple. In limited space, I’m going to offer you my ten indisputable rules of recovery.

1. You must own your addiction.

Until you take ownership for your disease, you won’t take responsibility for your recovery. Your addiction is likely the result of three things: (a) trauma, (b) abuse, and (c) isolation. You didn’t ask for this disease. But, you must own it now. Quit blaming your spouse, your parents, your boss, or your God. Only one person has the power to keep you in addiction, and that is the person who stares back at you every time you look in a mirror.

2. If you are 90% in, you are 100% out.

You can’t dabble at recovery and get well. Recovery is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. It includes therapy, 12-step work, and daily disciplines. You must live in absolute desperation, possessed by a willingness to do whatever it takes to stay sober. When I hear men say, “I was good, except for one quick porn binge,” I remind them that except for one quick gun shot, Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed the play.

3. Acting out is always a choice.

In recovery, we talk a lot about triggers, boundaries, guardrails, and euphoric recall. You will be tempted by what you see, hear, and remember. Your biggest sex organ—your brain—never shuts down. But no matter how great the temptation, the only way you will ever act out again is if you choose to.

4. Your current strategy is perfectly suited for the results you are getting.

The wise sage Yogi Berra mused, “If all you do is what you’ve done, all you’ll get is what you’ve got.” I can always tell how hard a client is working his recovery plan by the results he is getting. If you want to have better results tomorrow than you had today, you will have to do something different tomorrow from what you did today.

5. If your higher power is not Jesus Christ, you need a higher higher power.

I attend two SA meetings per week. We use the term “higher power” a lot. But if your higher power is your group, your program, or anything less than Jesus Christ, you need a major upgrade in your higher power. Only Jesus could say, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been give to me” (Matthew 28:18).

6. You can’t get well on your own.

If you could find lasting sobriety on your own, you already would have. You need community, an accountability group, a sponsor, sponsees, and a church family. You must let go of your secrets, because secrets kill. Finding recovery is like running the three-legged race. You can enter the competition by yourself, but you won’t win.

Related: Why Mere Willpower Isn’t Enough to Fight Porn

7.  No matter how far you travel the road of recovery, the ditch is still just as close.

Whether you have five years of sobriety or five minutes, you can fall just as quickly. You must remain diligent if you are to stay on track. Let me say it like this—what it took to get you well is what is will take to keep you well. Your sobriety is always at risk. The Bible says, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

8. Stare out the front window; glance at your rear view mirror.

In order to have a better future, you must quit trying to have a better past. It’s good to glance back from time to time (rearview mirror), but if you are going to keep moving in the right direction, you must spend most of your time looking forward (front windshield). We have a come-as-you-are Savior, but he is not a stay-as-you-are Lord. The Christian life (and recovery) requires keeping your eye on the road in front of you.

9. The 20-minute miracle can save you.

If you can make it for 20 minutes, you can make it. When a wave of temptation rolls over you, do whatever it takes to stay sober for 20 minutes—pray, call someone, go for a walk, read Scripture. Then, you will find that the wave has passed. Whether you act out or not, the temptation will usually pass in about 20 minutes. You don’t need to stay sober for a day, just for 20 minutes. God always provides a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13), but it’s up to you to take it.

10. Yesterday’s victory is no guarantee of tomorrow’s success.

When I make a list of my goals for the next year, month, week, or day, I always list the same thing at the top of that list—sobriety. I will only be sober tomorrow if I make good choices today. It’s like working out (so I’m told). Even the most well-conditioned athlete can lose it all quickly if he does not stay in consistent training.

Related: The Two Most Important Questions to Ask If You Have a Setback

Welcome to this thing we call “recovery.” It is the reward for those willing to work hard. It is the gift of God for those willing to accept it. And recovery can be yours—for the rest of your life.

  • Comments on: 10 Indisputable Rules to Guide Your Recovery From Porn
    1. Chinyere Adeyemo on

      This is very enlightening and encouraging,
      Thank you.

      Reply
    2. Curt on

      Your article is good, but it’s missing a lot. There’s more involved than just the desire to act out sexually

      Reply

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