Addicted for most of my life. Is it too late for me?

coach church recovery tools & advice Apr 08, 2022

In this video coaching newsletter I read a letter from a 38-year-old man who has been lost in his porn addiction since his teen years, more than half his life. He wonders if recovery is even possible for him and if it’s worth the effort to try.

The full text of Anon’s post is below in italics. My comments are in bold.

Hi Noah, I am 38 years old and I am around 5 weeks into a reboot streak. I had relied upon porn from soft to hardcore since my mid to late teens up until this latest reboot commitment. 20 years, more than half my life at least has been consumed by this urge to escape. Hide from intimacy, hide from vulnerability, hide from reality, hide from my poor self esteem have been the mantras I have lived my entire adolescent/adult life by. The purpose of my email is to try and seek some guidance on whether long term problems such as mine can truly be rectified. The PIED stuff I cannot relate to given I have never had a girlfriend. I have squandered thousands of dollars in brothels and happy ending massages and my last date with a woman has been between 3 and 4 years ago.

Addiction is a disease of isolation. Addiction is about looking for comfort and satisfaction in the wrong places. Addiction is about escaping from your problems, your shame, and yourself. And in the moment it works great at that. The problem is that the more you run away, the bigger your problems get and the less capable you become of solving them, until the addiction is all you have left.

A simple representation of the addictive cycle.

I have seen videos of yours reassuring men in their 20s that they have come to the reboot realisation or bottomed out at just the right time to get back in the game with women on a more rewarding level. I myself feel very alone as I undertake this journey. There is so much pain and regret I live with as I just try to make something meaningful with my life from here on in. My desires are still strong, but my capacity to pull myself out of this whole are very weak. Physically I am beginning to fall apart. Back issues make me feel 65yo at times and I am greying/balding and putting on belly flab.

It’s not only the men in their 20’s whom I say that to. I’ve never worked with a client for whom it was too late for them to greatly benefit by committing to their recovery. That means men in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s–not just 30’s and 40’s. You have decades of potential life left. Right now you have to make a choice. Do you want to muster your courage, push outside of your comfort zone, do your best, and make those years you can be proud of? Or do you want to continue to anesthetize yourself with porn until you die? One choice involves a lot more hard work, but it gives you a solid shot at freedom, accomplishment, and joy. The other choice is easier in many ways, but you know exactly what you’ll get with that choice.

Health is vitally important. Cutting porn out of your life will give you a lot more time and energy, and you need to channel it in the right ways or it will drive you right back to porn. So channel some of that energy into taking care of your health. Build an exercise routine. Start slow if you have to, but start. The benefits can be massive. Even more important, put the right fuel into your body. Research what a healthy diet means, and start eating with your future in mind.

And if you’re worried about your baldness, at least you’ve enjoyed hair this long! I started losing mine at 17. Watch this video I made on the topic.

At the same time I started my reboot I quit drinking as I am genetically predisposed to alcohol abuse. I am also doing this to give my antidepressant medication the best chance of success which I am taking for long term social anxiety.

Antidepressants are very helpful and sometimes necessary for many people. However, a porn addiction itself can upset the neurochemical balance and create symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. Many people find that after recovery, other emotional disorders disappear. However, many people find that they do not. Regardless, you should give yourself the chance to see what a pornfree life is like.

Can you please consider addressing men like me who have this feeling of “no way out” or who feel like their best opportunities are behind them. Men who feel they have to reassess their whole value system to see if they can somehow find happiness in the future. I would really love to have a wife and kids but this is becoming more a more complex an idea as each day passes. If this is not possible how can I or other men in my position live with the sense of guilt or regret this previous lifestyle has caused me?

We all have a past we regret–some more so than others. We all have to learn to accept that past, which we cannot change. We learn from it, envision a better future, and live in the present. I don’t know if you’ll ever become permanently pornfree, or if you’ll have a wife and kids someday. We cannot know what rewards await us after we put in our hard work, but we put in the work regardless. Because we are still alive, and that’s what life is about.

If my story is at all familiar or it is in fact unusual for you to hear, I would truly love to hear your thoughts on where I stand.

Not unusual at all, actually. I hope that you take heart from that fact.

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