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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Can He Overcome His Addiction? - Part 1

Dear Brother Jo,

I started out writing this huge rambling letter about everything and anything happening in my life when I realized that I could drop out most of what I wrote and get to the point across. There are still a lot of other things going on in my life that I would love to talk about, and lots of side stories I can tell you, but for now I think this gets to the core of one of my questions…

I am 26 and I am addicted to pornography. This addiction has plagued my life for as long as I can remember. It feels like it has taken control of my life. Right now I feel so trapped. I have been a member of the church all my life and active for most of it. I try to live the gospel, I work to fulfill my callings and I want to serve a full-time mission but this addiction has held me back. Now I am too old to serve a traditional mission. I have managed to abstain for periods of time here and there, sometimes enough to have been able send in my mission papers and get a temple recommend to go do baptisms for the dead (I love it there and have started going every week even if it means I have to sit outside) but it seems that no matter what I do, I eventually fall back into the same trap. I have been attending the church's addiction recovery program (I highly recommend it BTW) for quite some time and am trying to be better at working through the steps.  I am in desperate need of help and am in the process of trying to find a sponsor to help me through the steps. One minute I declare how much I want to be rid of it, but then hours later I find myself doubling back and acting upon my carnal desires. I hate it! This addiction has been a central part of my life for far too long!

Between addiction recovery books and addiction recovery meetings I have heard many stories of spouses who have been had immense emotional pains inflicted upon them by their husband's through acting out in their addictions. I hear these stories and I think about my future. I want to be a good husband and father, I don’t want to inflict that kind of pain upon another whether they are my family or not. And I also want to be worthy to take whomever I marry to be sealed in the temple.

Now I have dated, and I want to continue dating, but the thought of causing harm to one of Heavenly Father’s daughters terrifies me. I know that you consider Addiction to be a reason not to marry, and I have made the decision that if/when I am in a relationship that is definitely heading towards marriage I will be up front about my addiction. I believe that if I’m not comfortable enough with her to be completely honest about it before marriage then I’m not ready to marry her.

I’m scared… I want to progress, I want to date, I want to start a family, but how can I even consider it when I currently face this addiction so regularly? Yet at the same time, what alternative do I have? Remain in a state of no dating until I am free of this? I feel like I have tried that before. I put a lot of things on hold, waiting until I could serve a mission. Instead I ended up as a 26 year old non-RM, who just barely moved out of his parent’s house and is just now starting to gain a lot of valuable life experiences. I guess what I’m really afraid of is becoming a 40 year old still struggling with an addiction that has not gone on a date since he was 26…

Any advice?

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

I guess the question is:  are you scared enough to get clean?

Look, I'm going to be really candid with you.  Everything you've said is true, but unless you're willing to act it’s just talk.

Now I don't know you, and I agree that you need to keep getting counseling from priesthood leadership and the Recovery Program (thank you for your endorsement of that by the way), but it sounds to me like you're hiding behind your addiction; like you don't want to get clean because then you'll lose the excuse you've been using all this time.

It's like you've lived with it so long that you're scared to be free.

No doubt you've been taught at this point to recognize your triggers.  Loneliness.  Depression.  Up too late.  Using your computer in private places late at night and in the dark...

Now you need to remove those from your life.

That may mean no more computer for you.  Ever.  Hard as that may be, isn't it better than the alternative?

Perhaps that's extreme.  Perhaps you haven't moved your computer into the kitchen or had someone install passwords and limits on it that block websites and shut off the internet access from 8pm to 6am...

Perhaps you're not turning to the alternate activities that have been suggested you do when tempted (like reading scriptures, getting out among others, or my personal favorite: going for a run).

But the bottom line is, NW, it's worth making the change.

Don't give up.

And don't punish yourself by not dating at all, either.

Yes, addictions never go all the way away, but an addict can bring their cravings under control and live a very good life.

Including you.

Don't give up.

You deserve the blessings and happiness that Heavenly Father has in-store for you!

You are a good and valuable guy.

Now make the commitments you need to get clean.

No more talk.

Go and do.

Always here if you need.

- Bro Jo

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