Defeat Lust & Pornography Man sitting in the kitchen eating cold turkey.
Defeat Lust & Pornography 3 minute read

Quitting Porn Cold Turkey

Last Updated: February 9, 2024

So, you’ve decided that you need to get porn out of your life. Is it smart to quit cold turkey? If you’re just trying to power through the impulse to look at porn until it goes away, it’s not going to work.

You can’t white-knuckle your way out of a porn habit. Your desire for porn is going to outlast your willpower to avoid it. However long you manage to hold on, eventually, you’ll cave.

I know that sounds bad, but don’t be discouraged. You don’t have to stay stuck. Just keep reading.

The Cold Turkey Method for Porn

Have you ever faced a decision where you knew you needed to act but it was going to be difficult to do the right thing?

Once I faced a challenging conversation. It was going to have lasting repercussions. I wanted to avoid it. I asked my friend what I should do. “Rip it off like a band-aid,” he said.

He knew I was procrastinating and was going to make it worse the longer I waited. That’s the idea behind cold turkey. You endure a brief period of discomfort or even pain to get over something as quickly as possible. And that’s the best way to approach a difficult, one-time decision.

Why not apply this to pornography or other behavioral changes? Cold turkey doesn’t work for changing habits because they’re not one-time decisions. You might have a lot of self-control, but pornography hooks itself deeply in your brain. The cravings and impulses will keep building over time. The withdrawal symptoms could intensify. And you will keep finding more and more opportunities to relapse. Cold turkey won’t work when you face an endless series of decisions.

You need a better plan.

Is Moderation the Key?

At this point, you might be thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t bother quitting after all? What if I just dial back the porn a little bit?”

Popular advice says that a little porn in moderation is just fine. But deep down, you know that a little bit leads to a lot. You know that even a little porn often brings painful consequences to your life. Perhaps you’ve tried cutting back and can’t. In any case, you know you’ll never experience true freedom until you completely eliminate it.

So how do you do that?

What’s the Best Way to Quit Porn?

The problem with cold turkey isn’t the “all-in” approach to overcoming pornography. That’s important. Making a big life change takes serious commitment. Overcoming pornography is a big life change. You need to go all-in or you won’t succeed.

But you need something more than just commitment: You need people. That’s right, you need to stop flying solo and ask for help.

The root of the problem is missing relationships.

That sounds scary, so let’s step back for a minute. What’s the root of the problem? Compulsive pornography use means that you’re missing something in your life. Porn compensates for an unmet desire or need. Superficially, that desire is sex. Porn gives you the pleasure of sex without all the difficulties and uncertainties of a relationship.

At a deeper level, however, porn is a substitute for meaningful relationships in general. And for many people, porn isn’t really about sex at all—it’s about the desire for intimacy. Nowadays, many people experience deep loneliness and isolation. You might be looking for relief from emotional wounds or trauma that you’ve suffered.

Relationships are the secret sauce to breaking the shame cycle.

When you habitually turn to porn to meet this need, you’re training yourself to think this is what intimacy is all about. But porn can never truly take the place of real human connection. It fails to keep the promise of intimacy. It always leaves you feeling emptier and more isolated.

Worse, it leaves you with feelings of shame that often drive you back into porn. You need to break this cycle.

Covenant Eyes has been helping people overcome pornography for over 20 years. We’ve helped more than 1.5 million people on their journey! We have found again and again that nobody quits porn alone. Human beings are relational. We need other people deeply involved in our lives, whether introverted or extroverted.

Overcome relationship disappointments through genuine accountability.

I’m willing to bet you’ve had some relationship disappointments. You might be afraid that you’ll be hurt again if you open up this area of your life. But I want to tell you something: True friends and allies won’t walk away from you.

And when you get honest about your own secrets, you’ll find that others around you are struggling too.

People are the only path away from porn.

You need a relational support system. You need friends and allies to come alongside you. You need real human connection. Are you ready to get started?

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