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What It’s Like for an Addict to Quit Using Porn? An Interview with Noah Church (Part 2)

Noah Church is a well-known speaker on issues related to porn addiction and the author of Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn, an educational look at how internet porn affects its users. Additionally, he has created the website, Addicted to Internet Porn. On that site, he has compiled information learned from his own and others’ experiences with digital pornography—articles, videos, and more. He also offers one-to-one coaching for those who are struggling. Recently, Noah was a guest on my Sex, Love, & Addiction 101 podcast. I found our discussion so fascinating that I wanted to also present a Q&A with Noah here.

In my previous post to this site, Noah and I discussed his pre-recovery experience with porn addiction—how it started, how it escalated, the sexual dysfunction he experienced, and other consequences. In this post, we discuss his journey into recovery.

So Noah, can you tell me how you got started in recovery?

When I was 24, I figured, “OK, I’m ready now, I’m strong enough. I’m going to figure out what this is, once and for all.” I started the same way I started looking for answers back in 2008 when I was younger, which was just by searching the internet for answers. But in 2008, there was nothing really helpful. This time what I found was vastly different. I found the stories of many guys, guys around my age, with similar tales to tell about how they were consistently using porn for years and either couldn’t have sex for their first time or they had lost the ability to get aroused with a real partner.

I assume you found YourBrainOnPorn.com and similar sites?

Yeah, but first I found Gary Wilson’s TEDx talk, The Great Porn Experiment, and that led me to his website [YourBrainOnPorn.com]. From there, I found other stuff. And it all just became so clear what had been going on with me.

It was a huge relief just knowing that I wasn’t alone anymore, that other guys had been through this, and they had gone through and seen the other side and had recovered. And knowing that pornography was the cause of all this pain that had happened in my life—it was like there was finally light at the end of the tunnel. So I was actually quite happy and excited about quitting porn and seeing the improvement and finally putting it behind me.

What did you do to quit the porn, to achieve that?

Well, the first thing I did was write for about three days straight. I just wrote out everything that I had kept inside: my entire history of my sexuality, my porn use, masturbation, my relationships, everything. I just wanted to get it all out on paper, as well as how I was feeling at that time, what I had learned, and what my goals were for the future. That really helped to create some clarity, to bring focus to what I wanted to accomplish, which was to leave porn behind entirely and recover from sexual dysfunction and find a satisfying relationship.

I actually posted that as a journal, anonymously, to Your Brain Rebalanced, which is an online support forum. That was also the beginning of my book, Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn. I continued keeping a log in my journal as I recovered, and that turned into wanting to write more and more about this issue because I didn’t feel like there was a book out there that really encapsulated the knowledge that someone like me would need in order to recover. I just wanted to write the book that I needed when I was 16, 17, 18.

But, rewinding a bit, how did I get away from pornography? In the initial days it was pretty easy, to be honest, because I had so much pain that I now associated with pornography that I was just one hundred percent committed, like, “No, I don’t want that in my life, at all.” I was also starting a new relationship at the time and that definitely helped. I was focused on her and on building that relationship, and on not thinking about pornography or being tempted to search for that online content.

As time went on, I noticed a steady improvement. There were about two and a half months before my girlfriend (at the time) and I were first able to have sex. And it didn’t work perfectly. It wasn’t as smooth as it would one day become, or as I had always wanted it to be, but it was huge progress. I continued to see progress over the following months.

That relationship actually ended about five and a half months into my journey away from pornography.

You went through a breakup in early recovery without relapsing?

Well, for a while I did. I was definitely hurt, confused, and lost, but I committed, and I even wrote this in my book, a final entry, that this wasn’t going to throw me back into porn, that I wasn’t going to allow that to happen.

That held true for about three months, and then I had my first relapse. That experience is very memorable for me. It felt like a switch flipped in my mind. I was alone, and I was in my room, and all of a sudden, for some reason, porn was a possibility for me again. That possibility just rose to the surface, and I felt like I was Jonesing for a drug. I was shaking, my heart was beating really quickly. I was a wreck. I just paced in my room for about half an hour, struggling with myself, fighting. “Should I do this or should I not?” And I lost that battle and gave in and used pornography.

After that, it was a struggle. I would be porn-free for two weeks, two months, but then have a relapse, and it took me the better part of a year to relearn how to be porn-free permanently.

That experience was very difficult, especially because I had already written and published the book. I felt like a failure, to be sure, because I was supposed to be some sort of expert but I was still struggling. But, you know, at this time in my life, looking back, I don’t particularly regret that time because it taught me a lot about myself, and it gave me a lot more empathy and understanding for the true power that porn can have over people. I also feel like I’m a better coach now for those who are struggling through the same thing.

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This interview will continue in my next post to this site, with Noah and I discussing the different porn-abusing populations (trauma-driven and early-use driven), along with his current work as a speaker and coach, and various other topics.

What It’s Like for an Addict to Quit Using Porn? An Interview with Noah Church (Part 2)

Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S is a digital-age intimacy and relationships expert specializing in infidelity and addictions—most notably sex, porn, and love addiction. An internationally acknowledged clinician, he frequently serves as a subject expert on human sexuality for multiple media outlets including CNN, HLN, MSNBC, The Oprah Winfrey Network, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and NPR, among others. He is the author of several highly regarded books, including “Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship-Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating,” “Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide to Healing from Sex, Porn, and Love Addiction,” “Sex Addiction 101: The Workbook,” and “Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men.” He blogs regularly for Psychology Today, Huffington Post, and Psych Central. A skilled clinical educator, he routinely provides training to therapists, the US military, hospitals, and psychiatric centers in the US and abroad. Over the years, he has created and overseen more than a dozen high-end addiction and mental health treatment facilities. Currently, he is CEO of Seeking Integrity, LLC, being developed as an online resource for recovery from infidelity and sexual addiction. For more information or to reach Mr. Weiss, please visit his website, robertweissmsw.com, or follow him on Twitter, @RobWeissMSW.


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APA Reference
Weiss LCSW, R. (2018). What It’s Like for an Addict to Quit Using Porn? An Interview with Noah Church (Part 2). Psych Central. Retrieved on November 19, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2018/11/what-its-like-for-an-addict-to-quit-using-porn-an-interview-with-noah-church-part-2/

 

Last updated: 24 Oct 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Oct 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.