Overcoming an addiction to pornography sometimes feels like shooting spitballs at an armored tank. For those willing to do whatever it takes, the chances of making a full recovery are optimistic.
Former BYU student Reed Davis was once addicted to pornography but through great effort was able to break the habit. Davis now produces a string of YouTube videos geared toward sharing his experiences, the steps he took and the resolutions he had to make in order to defeat porn. His goal with these videos is to help people make the necessary changes and commitments before it’s too late.
“Many people finally make it to recovery programs after years of struggling, most of them because they hit rock bottom,” Davis said. “They may have lost a marriage, or they can’t function like they used to. It would be better if we could make a difference before they get to that point.”
For addicts, pornography isn’t just a habit. According to Davis, it physically affects their brains and distorts their reality.
“It’s not about looking at naked people,” Davis said. “That’s how it may start out initially, but within days it turns into an emotional need. Looking at pornography rewires your brain. It tricks your brain into feeling that stress is being released, but the reality is that it does the opposite.”
Davis believes that no matter how addicted someone is to pornography, there is always hope. It will be hard and will require help, but making the recovery will be well worth it.
“It can be done, but if you’re trying to do it on your own it will never work out,” Davis said. “With help from others, I’ve gone from being an addict and not having the Spirit, to serving in the mission presidency out in Boston and consulting directly with Elders Ballard and Andersen. To be on that pathway, from sin to extremely spiritual things, for me it just shows that repentance is true.”
One major problem porn addicts face is the fact that pornography is everywhere. With sex all over the media, it makes it hard for those struggling with pornography to avoid images they might see that trigger the temptations.
Sydni Sanders and Hillary Brown are two fashion bloggers who are using their blog to take a stand against seductive media.
“I find it sad that women are constantly seen in the media eyes as sex objects,” Sanders said. “I think when the media focuses on that so much it influences young people and children at a young age to view women more as an object rather than a human being. There’s so much goodness in a person, but the world tends to focus on what can fade the fastest — beauty.”
Sanders and Brown aren’t the only ones using social media to combat porn. The nonprofit organization Fight the New Drug launched a successful social media campaign and has obtained nearly 600,000 followers of Facebook and more than 20,000 followers on Twitter. Fight the New Drug is dedicated to fighting pornography using only scientific facts and personal accounts. Fight the New Drug office manager Kyle Duran understands that each person is unique and needs to do whatever works for them in order to overcome pornography.
“Some people throw their Internet away,” Duran said. “Others have a lot of success using an accountability partner. The truth is that there is no one way to cure an addiction, and there is no perfect solution out there.”
No matter what someone’s solution is, it is not likely that a full recovery will be made on the first attempt. President John Edwards, stake president of the Provo YSA 3rd Stake, recently spoke to the men in his stake about overcoming pornography. In his address, he told a story of his son, who attempted to ride his mountain bike to the top of a steep hill. His son tried 36 times to make it to the top of the hill, but because biking was his passion he kept trying. Finally on his 37th attempt, his son made it to the top of the hill, where President Edwards was there waiting to take him in his arms.
“It’s difficult, but never give up,” Edwards said. “We just have to stay after it. Recognize that you are making improvements. They will come gradually, but they will come. Those who begin the process will have light return to their eyes. They’ll feel joy again, and they will reclaim what was lost, because the Atonement returns it all.”