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Habits of Freedom: How to Quit Porn

Last Updated: February 21, 2014

The following is an edited excerpt from Chapter 6 of the free e-book The Porn Circuit: Understand Your Brain and Break Porn Habits in 90 Days. Download it now.

porn circuit quit pornOvercoming a pornography habit or addiction isn’t just about staying away from porn. Much more is needed.

Neurologists show that to overcome bad habits and addictions, a person needs to build new and positive habits in his or her life, which will in turn create new and positive neural pathways. Simply avoiding bad habits leads to failure. Spending time thinking about avoiding porn can bring up the mind’s storehouse of images, videos, and encounters, which can lead to anxiety and tension that begs for release. New and rewarding pathways are needed to avert crashes.

Neurologists agree that the old neural pathways that lead to bad behaviors and acting out won’t go away, but intentionally creating new pathways allows a person to pursue healthy interests instead. Over time and after building new and positive habits and ignoring paths to porn use, the cravings for porn and the constant cues for sexual thought will diminish and willpower will return. With practice, patience, and perseverance, freedom from porn can be the new reality.

While that sounds simple, dopamine-driven habits developed over years of repetition are extremely difficult to ignore in favor of new healthy alternatives. Men and women who have masturbated to pornography since adolescence have massive numbers of neural pathways and cues that lead them back again and again to pornography. The desire feels more like a survival need, similar to food, water, and shelter. Avoiding acting out feels unhealthy, both physically and mentally. How will they cope with stress, boredom, painful memories, sexual impulses, and even their daily routine?

Often when the porn struggler thinks about avoiding pornography, the desire and obsession for acting out becomes even more intense, dominating his or her thoughts and fantasies. Because personal resistance to these porn cues is so weak, acting out is typically not far away, and with each failure the notion of being free sounds like a fairy tale. It’s typical for a man who is struggling with porn to convince himself that no man is really free from pornography, avoidance only occurs in short spurts, and living without pornography will cause his mind, his marriage, and his life more problems than wellbeing.

Of course, with help and work, men and women do break free from bad habits and addictions, including those who feel unable to break free from masturbation and pornography. Instinctively, the vast majority of those struggling with porn know that freedom is possible. They are just unsure of how to get there.

There is likely no single magic formula, no one-size-fits-all recovery system, but therapists and neurologists point to common strategies and steps that lead to real and long-term freedom.

Read more in The Porn Circuit

  1. steven terrell

    I truly feel helpless,sexual images have been part of my life for 40 years, lost a wife from porn addiction, hard to have a good loving relationship.

    • Chris McKenna

      Hi Steven, I’m so sorry. The pain you’ve experienced must be immense. If it’s been 40 years, what have you tried to break free? I can’t give you a magic pill to help you quit, but there are some steps that have helped many men. It’s unbelievably difficult to break decades-old chains. The devil does not give up ground lost to sexual addiction easily. Have you read this blog post? It’s short and direct: https://www.covenanteyes.com/2012/04/23/how-to-quit-porn-6-essential-steps/

      May you experience the strength of a God who can do impossible things.
      Chris

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