by Dann Aungst – Founder of Road to Purity
If it’s one thing addicts know, porn addicts in particular (since that’s what Road to Purity specializes in), being faced with seemingly hopeless and uncontrollable situations are not unknown territory. As addicts, we can use our recovery practices to help us in facing extremely uncertain times like these. These principles can actually work for everyone – addict or not.
Four Foundational Principles for Recovery and Growth
As all addicts know, surrendering to a “higher power” is the basis of recovery. At Road to Purity and our Catholic foundational principles, we firmly believe that this “higher power” is Jesus Christ and ONLY Jesus Christ. Prayer is the number one principle here. As we teach those in the Road to Purity programs, “pray it away” is not a philosophy. Prayer is a cornerstone practice that asks God to direct our recovery, our stress, and to reveal our underlying disordered behaviors and emotional wounds. AND to give thanks for allowing us to bring Him the addiction and surrender our lives and pains to Him. Many of the same practices and prayers that we teach can be used directly or mildly modified to use in any level of life distress, like the Coronavirus situation. (review the prayers section of our website and the recovery section of our website for assistance)
With addiction, behaviors need to be modified. We set up boundaries of visual and experiential consumption that can trigger us, tempt us or just start the path in the wrong direction. For non addicts, this is also applicable. Modified behaviors include the act of frequent hand washing, limiting consumption of media in attempt to eliminate the hysteria and resulting panic behavior. The Church teaches the virtue of prudence which is the moderation of all things to a healthy level. Compare the watching hours of TV or Internet news stories/YouTube snippets of news casts resulting in fear and panic then hoarding of goods (like toilet paper) behavior, to a porn addict starting to watch mildly suggestive content on YouTube, Instagram or Reddit, and being drawn to more explicit material only to then ultimately watch porn and act out. Basic principle is don’t consume or experience something that has historically resulted in an unwanted or unhealthy behavior. Panic, fear, abandonment, impotence (feeling out of control), anxiety and hopelessness are all emotions that addicts face as well as individuals caught up in this pandemic. – Same crap, different trigger.
Here we address specifically the emotions that the above Principle of Behavior illustrated.
We see the behaviors that trigger emotional battles of hopelessness, uncontrollable situations, abandonment, fear etc. While one may make the case that in this situation, many of these emotions are natural, consider what the absence of these emptions results in. – how about trust, peace and general lack of anxiety. This may even suggest that these emotions are not of God. With addicts, we discover that many of these emotions can be traced to a wound from long ago (typically childhood), that gets triggered and our resulting behavior is the need for a kind of “medication” to sooth the unpleasant emotions. In this situation, often times it is a new experience rather than a past experience we are trying to cope with. The action is however much the same. Recognizing the emotion, clearly identify it, name the trigger, allowing the emotion to be present but not take over, see it for what it is and in in a visual meditation, see the emotion and surrender it to Christ. (see the Transformation in Christ exercise from Road to Purity to guide you through a complete surrender experience)
The dopamine chemical in our brains is a powerful motivator. It manages pleasure, survival, fear, excitement and so much more. For addicts, it’s the addictive chemical that makes the addiction difficult to overcome. The brain begins to crave the flood of dopamine as a needed experience for survival. As the addiction progresses, the dopamine flood is perceived as needed just to feel normal. Exactly like harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin where the addict reaches a point where they just “need a hit” to get by. (Note: studies have shown porn addiction to be equal or even more addictive that cocaine and heroin). In the situation of an pandemic like the Coronavirus, the fuel of social media, TV, Radio etc., create the emotional stimulus as described above, thus triggering the brain to need to medicate to feel safe and protected – thus triggering many to overreact with hoarding, scrambling to become self-sufficient and be “off grid” and similar behaviors. The act of hoarding etc., actually boosts the dopamine in the brain making one feel more in control and thus soothing the powerful emotions of fear, impotence, anxiety etc.
While these four principles are grossly abbreviated, the principles are there. More in depth information is on the Road to Purity website, in our books 40 Days to Freedom – Winning the Battle for Sexual Purity, Winning the Battle – A Pocket Guide for Achieving Sexual Purity, and the Restoring God’s Foundation small group program – a 35 week intensive program that works for beating pornography and sex addiction. (Seminaries are even using it!)
In the end, all of this doesn’t change anything. The possibility of infection is the same and God is in control. God in essence is telling us “Turn to Me, I am here now and in the end. Nothing you can do will change that, If I decide to bring you home, no amount of toilet paper is going to prevent that”. All kidding aside, the basis is the truth. God is our Rock, He is in control and the exclusive source of our peace in this and every part of our lives.
Let us all turn to our Lord for comfort in these times, let Him be our guide and our peace. It is available nowhere else!
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