Trying to change our behavior isn’t a simple task. Many times it’s just easier to admit that we have a problem and then not do anything about it. Often we can get loved ones, friends and even society off our backs by simply admitting, “I’m addicted.”
Unfortunately, simply admitting that we are addicted seldom results in long-term change. To truly change, we must really want it and believe we can do it.
Another major self-deception about changing a behavior is still having access to the drug. I share this comparison with my clients:
Let’s suppose your friend has struggled with alcohol for years and has admitted to being an alcoholic. It’s been a while since you have seen him and decide to stop by his home unannounced. He welcomes you in and after a few minutes happily reports that he has been sober for 60 days. You’re thirsty and ask for a drink of water. He says, “Help yourself. There’s cold water in the fridge.” You go to the fridge to get the water, but also see a six-pack of beer.
Upon returning to the living room you say, “I don’t want to get too personnel, but you said you have been sober for 60 days. I’m confused by the beer in the fridge.” His response, “I keep it there to demonstrate how strong I am. I have to learn how to deal with alcohol and this helps me prove to myself that I am stronger than it.”
I asked my clients, “What do you think about this man’s reasoning? What thoughts do you have about his strategy and plan to overcome his addiction?” My clients responded:
“I don’t think it is a very good idea. He surely will have a weak moment.”
“I think he’s kidding himself.”
“It’s only a matter of time before he drinks it.”
“Why tempt yourself? Get rid of it.”
“It sounds like he’s not ready to give it up.”
After listening to my clients I asked, “Do you still have a six-pack in the fridge?” Think of the drug you use. How can you cut the access to it?
Change More than just Stopping the Drug
When someone is struggling with pornography the drug they receive from sexual arousal is a release of dopamine to the brain. The pleasure center of the brain lights up with excitement and wants more.
For most clients who struggle with pornography, they believe that the problem is just viewing pornography and that they need to stop. Yes, viewing pornography is a problem, but there is also the problem of having access to it. Any person with a dependency or addiction to a substance or behavior generally needs to cut off the access in order to get sober.
When we hear a former drug addict say, “I had to change friends, get a new career and start a new life,” we recognize that change requires a high level of commitment and sacrifice. In most cases, anyone who has a dependency or an addiction must be willing to change their entire life instead of just trying to stop the behavior and live with the six-pack in the fridge.
Cutting Off Access to the Internet
For someone using pornography, it may mean cutting off access to the internet. It might be going back to a flip phone with no internet access, that can only call and text.
How can you stop viewing pornography and still keep a six-pack (internet access) in the fridge? We know access must be cut off for marijuana, heroine, cocaine and alcohol. But with pornography, the drug of dopamine can still be kept within a “click of a mouse” and somehow we think we will be strong enough not to drink it.
How Some Clients Cut Access to Internet
Here are some choices clients have made to cut their access to pornography:
• He told friends that he will only return emails for an hour a day, between 5 and 6 p.m. Now he only uses the public library on his way home from work to respond to his personal emails.
• He informed his boss that he had a problem with pornography and asked that his workstation be in an open area instead of a private office.
• He exchanged his smart phone for a “flip phone.”
• She installed filtering software on her laptop.
• He had his wife set “parental controls” on his cell phone and tablet, to limited internet access.
• Since the client was a computer programmer, he had his wife installed a “key logging” program. This software doesn’t block anything, but does keep track of everywhere he goes on the computer and sends a detailed report to his wife with “snap shots” of websites visited, keystrokes entered and much more. Just knowing that his wife would see everything helped him set up a mental barrier that prevents him from visiting pornography sites.
Key Logging Software
There are many key logging software services. The name describes what the software does. It logs or keeps track of each keystroke entered into the computer, takes snapshots of websites visited, captures email, etc. and sends a report to a specified email address. In addition, you can access your account at any time and monitor someone’s computer activities 24/7.
Here are some key logging software:
Long-term Healing and Sobriety
There’s a lot that one can do to learn about trigger points, attachment needs, taking the risk to share real emotions and developing self-care strategies, but somewhere in the plan for recovery a real straight talk about cutting off internet access should be at the top of the list for long-term healing and sobriety.
© 2015 Rod W. Jeppsen