I don’t know about you, but I’ve read more articles about overcoming addiction than I even care to count. And to me, they’re all the same: “Try harder, fill your mind with good things, rely on God, pray about it, etc.” These are all great suggestions, but let’s get real; anyone writing these things has never struggled with addiction. If they had, they would know the addict has tried all of these things about a hundred times and yet they still can’t pull themselves out. As someone who has struggled with pornography for a while, I have experienced addiction first hand and I have personally tried all the suggestions in these articles. I’ve sent thousands of prayers up asking God to take it away. I have tried my very best to go for as long as possible without viewing porn, hoping that maybe then the addiction will go away or the pull will lessen. I have done many things to get my mind off of it including memorizing and reciting Scripture when tempted, singing church songs, reading or studying the Bible, and more. I’ve even gone so far as to inflict pain on myself when I’ve messed up, hoping that it might train my body to expect pain when going down that road. Again, anyone who has struggled with addiction would not say these are the best actions to take.
So one might say, “What’s the problem with these? Why won’t these work? Maybe they just didn’t work for you but they’d be great for someone else.” I’m sorry to say, that won’t be the case. I can say this definitively because all of these actions keep the struggle personal, and this is Satan’s best tool against the addict. I may say a million prayers to God, yet not one person around me will know. I may try to think on better things, and yet my own family may not even know about it. It all comes down to being open. I have never read about nor heard of the person who beat addiction without an accountability partner. Any book you read about overcoming addiction, and believe me when I say I’ve read my fair share, will tell you to get an accountability partner.
One thing stands in our way from getting accountable and embarking on the road to freedom: pride. We think we need to keep up appearances with people and make sure they don’t see the worst parts of us. If you’re like me, you’ve convinced yourself that if you told others about your addiction, you may discourage or burden them or you may lose them as friends because they won’t want to hang around with someone who struggles with that (i.e. judge you). First off, I know the discouragement excuse is a tough one to handle. I know first hand that you will disappoint and probably discourage people when you admit to your struggle, but anyone who loves you will obviously be disappointed about it. However, if their disappointment and discouragement keeps you in a box that you can’t get out of, as the great program X3Pure says, get those people out of your life. This process is called self-differentiation, and sometimes this may even include family members or close friends. In cases like this where you can’t remove them physically from your life, get rid of them mentally and emotionally. Do not allow what they think about you to stop you from getting on the right path. If the excuse of discouraging or burdening those around you is holding you back from telling someone about your struggle, realize that this addiction is separating you from God and it is better to burden them with your problem than to lose your relationship with God. Remember, if they truly love you, they will be disappointed at first but then will be willing to work with you to overcome this struggle.
The second excuse that I, and many others, have made is that we are scared of people judging us and possibly losing their friendships. This is much like the first excuse. If you lose someone’s friendship because of it, believe me, you are better off without that person in your life. Sadly, people probably will think of you differently, but I will say that this is a great way to determine who your real friends are. In the process of admitting your sins to a friend, you may notice, as I have, that your friendship with that person becomes so much stronger than it has ever been because you are no longer discussing superficial things. When you take it to the next level by admitting your addiction, a certain bond is formed. Do not let the thought of your friends judging you hold you back from doing what you know must be done. Either your relationship will dwindle (and you’ll realize you didn’t need them anyway) or it will thrive and deepen and you will wish you had this the whole time. It is a risk, but no one said overcoming addiction would be easy or safe. I guarantee you that you not be the same person by the time you get a handle on your addiction. You will grow in ways you didn’t think you could, and some of it is painful, but all of it is rewarding.
Honestly, I think becoming accountable is difficult because it terrifies us for people to know anything about us apart from what we want them to know. Not only is this stupid, it’s unbiblical. John, in 1 John 1:8, says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” It is unbiblical to act like we don’t struggle with sin, and in a way we are putting ourselves on the level of Jesus by acting like we’re sinless. In Romans 3, we learn that our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God. In discussing his thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul says, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” God’s power is seen in our weaknesses, and it is slapping Him in the face when we act like our life is perfect and that we don’t struggle with sin. How dare we act like we don’t need Christ’s sacrifice, which is essentially what we’re doing when we act this way. This goes out to all in the church, not just the addicts. Remove the pride and connect to those around you. It may be hard to tell others about your sin, but here’s a newsflash, “WE’RE ALL SINNERS!” There is not one person you talk to that has the high ground on you. So they may not struggle with an addiction. And yet they have still sinned and are in need of Christ’s blood. This means we’re all in the same boat. Addicts are not the only ones that need to confess sins to brothers and sisters in Christ. Here’s a little secret: the very purpose of the church is to bear one another’s burdens and help each other get to heaven. The church must open up about all kinds of struggles, both physical and spiritual. We’ve been distant spiritually from our brothers and sisters for far too long. But I digress – another article at another time.
On January 8th of this year, I got serious about beating my addiction. I asked 5 men to be my accountability partners. I already had 1, so I now have 6 men holding me accountable throughout the week. I can count on less than one hand the number of times I’ve stumbled since then. I have in no way beaten my addiction. This will be a lifelong struggle, but I’m experiencing some of the freedom I haven’t had in years. I’m going to suggest that you don’t just tell one person or have just one accountability partner. Have multiple APs, and make it men or women you trust and respect so it will be difficult to tell them you’ve messed up again. If you are a man, I would suggest that all of your APs are men as well. Women can’t fully grasp the mind of a man, and vice versa. Because of this, the same goes for you if you are a woman. Use women accountability partners. And spread them throughout the week so you don’t talk to all of them on Wednesday or some other day. This should almost be a daily check-up. Many articles have been written on this with many great suggestions. You should pray lots and develop a deep and daily prayer life. You should work on changing your thinking and your habits. Discover the areas you struggle the most. If you struggle while home alone, get out and drive for a while or go for a walk. Change your environment so you won’t struggle. Every suggestion in these articles is valuable and necessary, but being open is perhaps the most important one. I’ve been open with you about my struggle, so I know you can find the strength and courage to be open to someone else about yours. It will change your life, and it will help put that nagging addiction behind you – for good.