I just found the chart below online the other day and I thought I would share it.
But first, a note about me and my addiction:
I got my first "hit" of pornography when I was just a kid...like 5 years old, and no one told me, heck, I don't think anyone outside the psychiatric community knew that it could be addictive. As a teenager, I had bishops tell me that I just needed to be stronger, and that I wasn't serious about repentance.
I remember being at a fireside on BYU campus and the speaker was talking about eating disorders and pornography addiction. We were in a large auditorium that seats about 700. The speaker had 1/3 of us stand up. She said, "You who are standing up, you represent the 1/3 of BYUsudents who suffer from an eating disorder or pornography addiction."
At the time I was fairly under control --not acting out or actively seeking pornography--but I remember thinking then, "Wow, I have a real problem," because I think I'd always known, or at least a part of me had always known, that I was addicted. I knew what compulsive behavior was and I knew my desires to seek out pornography were not "normal," that the "need" was much different than my need for food or sleep.
But I didn't know how it worked on a chemical level.
And now I do. And it has helped. I am sober and have been for a while, but every few months I go through a mini version of the acting out cycle wherein I begin to seek out pseudo pornographic images on the web--celebrity photos, swim suit models, etc.... and then I turn off the computer and walk away.
This always brings out two emotions. First, a sense of failure that I even went looking, and second, a sense of relief that I was able to pull back from the edge before I'd indulged in anything "really bad."
Of course, both these emotions are false. On the first count, I have an addiction, so feeling temptation will always be a part of my life. To feel like a failure because I felt tempted isn't very helpful. And on the second count, to feel a sense of relief because I "pulled back," is to fool myself into thinking that for someone with an addiction, the line between pornography and not-pornography is blurry, when in reality, if I want to be healed, the line must be black and white.
I imagine its the same as an alcoholic who can't walk past the liquor store or who can't go out to eat at a a bar. At some point, If I want to be completely healed, I have to be willing to extricate myself from the situation.
Of course, I can't just stop using a computer. But I can keep my office door open.
But I was talking about addiction knowledge and how that has helped.
This is one way. When I am tempted to act out, when I venture into the blurry boundary that surrounds obvious pornography, I can feel that chemical high and now I know what it is. When it goes away and I feel empty and I want to replace it with more porn, I know why. And depending on how far I venture down that path, it can take a day or two or longer for that chemical "need" to wear off. And I see how this effects the way I view women on the street, the way I interact with my children, the way I treat my wife.
Knowing I have an addiction has given a face and name to the compulsion and I can longer pretend that its "me," or that its just "who I am," or that I am powerless. Instead I can recognize whats going on and I can focus on clearing my system.
I can stop blaming my wife for not meeting my "needs" and start repenting for creating artificially inflated "needs" through my pornography addiction.
I can take action to combat the chemical "need" through prayer, through exercise, through breathing exercises, through writing, through service, through talking with a trusted friend. When I do these things (especially when I'm feeling vulnerable and weak and compulsive), I feel myself becoming stronger, I feel myself gaining more control, and I feel myself healing, or rather, I feel the Lord healing me.
I think the process of healing from pornography starts with knowing about addiction. Without that, a person struggling with pornography will think its merely a matter of will power, which is a battle against the self...And pornography addiction isn't about battling the self, its about discovering the self buried beneath the addiction. Every bit of self-discovery, every bit of knowledge that I am a child of God, that I am in control of my future, that I am okay, that I am good, every bit of that is a bit of healing.
And that is a wonderful thing.
I hope that you are healing today in some way.