Drug of the mind: The culture, life, and stigma of a porn addict

looking at phone

I am addicted to porn.  It’s a sentence that draws so many negative connotations given the area of the country that we live in.  I’ve wondered if I wasn’t LDS and living in the Mormon mecca, would I be considered a porn addict?  There are a lot of new studies coming out all the time questioning if addiction is real. Can a person be addicted to sex or things of a sexual nature if they are genetically wired into our DNA?

A general definition of addiction is a compulsive behavior that you cannot control or get rid of.  You want to stop your behavior, but you can’t when left to your own devices, even if that thing you’re addicted to has harmful or destructive consequences.  I believe this can be anything in life to a degree, especially pornography.

From ages 10-23 I would look at porn almost every day.  People ask, or point out, that I was so young.  How did your viewing of pornography start at such a young age?  I really don’t recall or have a defining moment that I can point to.  I remember wanting to look at boobs, and I probably typed something into an internet search engine that would let me have access to doing so.

Being raised LDS, I felt bad about doing what I was doing.  However, I didn’t try and tell my parents or an ecclesiastical leader until I was fourteen.  I felt ashamed telling my bishop about what I was doing.  He had suggested we meet weekly until I stopped viewing pornography.  I lied and told him I wasn’t looking at it anymore during those coming weeks.  So began a cycle of looking at porn almost every day and then every few years trying to “come clean” and stop watching it.  I wanted to do this not because of my religion, but because I hated the fact that something had control over me.  I have never watched porn, masturbated, and then said to myself, “Boy, I’m sure glad I did that!”  However, I kept doing it.

Why did I feel bad?  Sure, I felt bad because my parents were disappointed in me and because I was lying to them about not looking at it anymore.  My ecclesiastical leaders didn’t approve, and every girl that I ever told if we were dating, or close to being in a relationship with, definitely did not approve.  I’m aware that’s because of the area and LDS culture, but I didn’t feel like a terrible person myself, but other’s attitudes towards me would make me feel like a horrible person.   

My dad suggested I see a therapist.  The therapist happened to be LDS, but his office wasn’t related with the LDS religion in anyway.  I remember telling him my story, my eyes so waterlogged with tears that my vision was blurry, and him telling me, “Christian, you’re an amazing person.  Having met with you all of five minutes I can tell you’re the type of person who doesn’t ever want to cause anyone pain and feels terribly when he does.”  Something clicked in me after he had said that.  I’m sure my ecclesiastical leaders, my parents and friends who knew of my addiction had said something similar to me, but having a stranger tell me that made me feel a way I had never felt before.

I saw him regularly for over six months.  We did mental exercises and mental drills, typical therapy stuff if you will, to help me get clean.  I still use those things to help me not look at porn.  Though I haven’t looked at pornography in four years, I still tell people I’m addicted.  I think about porn nearly every day and it’s always a fight to not go back to feeling the way I did and viewing it daily.  I don’t feel ashamed telling people anymore that I am addicted to pornography because we’re all human and we all have things that keep us awake in the night.

My hope is that anyone who has a pornography addiction that takes the time to read this won’t feel ashamed for being addicted to pornography.  If you want to stop, you can do it.   Anyone has the ability inside them to quit something they don’t want to do anymore.  Sometimes you might need the help of other people, even a professional, to help you see you have the ability.  There is no shame in that.  It may feel like there is, but hey, when has anything worthwhile been easy to achieve?  Keep up the fight of whatever you’re battling.  You’ll eventually get the positive results you want to see.

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