How to help quit pornography

Pornography consumption in the world is growing at an accelerated rate. It has become one of the most alarming addictions of our time because of its physical, psychological, spiritual, etc. repercussions. The author proposes some advice based on experience.

Juan Carlos Vasconez-September 1, 2017-Reading time: 9 minutes

The consequences of such a global situation are not long in coming. Because of its withdrawal syndrome, it can be compared to the addiction of hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine or cocaine. crack. Moreover, because of the tolerance of our society, it is even above these drugs in terms of dangerousness. The spread of pornography and the commercialization of the body has been favored by, among other things, an unbalanced use of internetThis is in fact another problem, but one that is closely related to the one we are dealing with. Such is its diffusion that, in several states of the United States, it has been defined as a "public health crisis".

Ethical dimensions of the problem

In the face of this emergency, it is important to have guides who have the necessary skills to help others get out of pornography. From the point of view of their moral analysis, it is always necessary to keep in mind that this is a serious problem.

Already in the classical interpretation, we find serious warnings. St. Thomas affirms that, from the moral point of view, lust corrupts prudence, that is, "the ability to judge reality adequately and objectively and to be governed by sound mental principles."

Thus, for a person who watches pornography and is trying to quit, self-judgment will never be a good counselor and may betray him or her in moments of moral temptation or sensitivity. Although the desire to change is crucial, to tell the truth, it is not enough in itself. It is necessary to provide the means: finding someone to help and give guidelines in this struggle has become fundamental. It must be borne in mind that the contents of this business are increasingly "more degraded, rude, violent", and the access to them, because of Internetis becoming easier and more precocious. Getting out of the dependence that is created is not easy, and the pastors invite to "trust in the mercy of the Lord". and to "seek appropriate help and support".

Often it is the youngest who get caught. It is not uncommon for boys or girls to fall into this vice when they are only 10 or 12 years old, driven by bad friendships, curiosity or the efforts of companies engaged in this business.

It affects everyone, if their needs are not met. moral effects

Many of the "advocates" of pornography use assume that pornography consumption is victimless "entertainment." They often support the idea that someone (male or female) who views pornography in isolation is "not hurting anyone."

Although most people believe that only men view pornography, reality shows that women are not immune to it. Both women and men share the same brain effects regarding pornography use. In the case of women, it often manifests itself more through the use of erotic chat rooms and reading erotic or sexually explicit stories. Men, on the other hand, get very hooked on images. Both manifestations are equally damaging and difficult to overcome.

Lust is a vice that generally hates the light and therefore flees from it. Its most vile strategy is precisely to hide in secrecy so that, like cancer, it grows slowly. When the person who suffers from it seeks help, a spiritual director who will lead him to put light, immediately lust loses a great part of its influence..

Differences between vice and addiction

We could define three categories of pornography consumers: 

  • occasional, i.e., if the problem occurs only sporadically;
  • those who incur in the form of a habit or vice, since it is then not only a question of occasions in which this conduct occurs, but of repetitions with the frequency of the habitual;
  • finally, those who have developed the addiction, and we speak then of an addiction in the manner of other deviant behaviors that are imposed despite the contrary will of the person concerned.

While the first case can be overcome by strengthening the will and attending the sacraments, the other two need external help. On many occasions it can be difficult to distinguish between addiction and vice. Vice is a bad operative habit, which inclines a subject to perform a certain type of act. 

With classical anthropological terminology, St. Augustine speaks of the differences between weakness (vice) and sickness (addiction): "Weak is he of whom it is feared that he may succumb when temptation arises; sick, on the other hand, is he who is already overpowered by some passion, and is as it were hindered by some passion from approaching God and accepting the yoke of Christ.".

If this vice continues to take root more and more, which can be a matter of time - short or long, depending on the case - the behavior becomes compulsive, and when this compulsion ends up affecting the main spheres of the person (family, work, interpersonal relationships) tending to become generalized, we are dealing with an addiction, one has gone from being weak to being sick. We can say, in short, and concluding with the moral differences between the consumers of "this poison", that addiction is a vice that has become pathological: the person becomes incapable of stopping this behavior.

Keys to effective assistance

The case must first be evaluated. For those who have reached addiction, it is necessary to have the help of a professional, for example, a trusted physician who can guide the patient and facilitate timely mediation to mitigate the attacks of craving. In addiction, brain activity works in an unbalanced way.

I now try to give some guidelines to help the occasional or those who have acquired the vice.

This is not an easy process.  The helper should exercise patience and know how to encourage, especially when there are relapses, which can sometimes occur after many weeks of continence. Personal prayer is fundamental; for example, praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary every day. 

Positive attitude is key. As Pope Francis encourages us: "To be instruments of God's mercy that passes through a gesture, a word, a visit. And this mercy is an act to restore joy and dignity to those who have lost it.". Quitting a vice is not easy, it requires a lot of effort and personal work. But it can be overcome, you can get out of it. Unlike drugs, pornography has a faster recovery period, but it is still a process, it requires perseverance and companionship. Therefore, it is best to avoid making them feel additional shame and guilt. If a person is trying to change their behavior, it is not helpful to make them feel ashamed or guilty about their actions. It is smarter to help them find other things that motivate positive change rather than ridicule their negative behavior. 

Proposing regular meetings to see progress and discuss struggles will be a good way to follow up. It is especially useful to make it easier for the person to contact you when he/she feels at times of greatest weakness, if he/she feels that he/she will be overcome by the temptation to look at obscene images, then suggest that he/she call us with confidence and ask for help. Sometimes it is just a few words of comfort and prayer. You can also look for someone among his friends who can provide that help, you can help him to choose that person, in some cases it may be the parents or spouse. This is what is known as an "accountability partner"; finally, you can also get virtual help at https://www.rtribe.org/

Helping to recognize the problem

When it is recognized that it is serious and that help is needed, work can begin. Accepting that there is a problem, knowing that you are weak and in need of assistance is the first step in getting out of the addiction. Many times it will be enough to explain that watching pornography, in combination with an impure act, has an effect on the brain similar to other addictions, that is, it produces a large amount of dopamine in the brain released by a strong release of hormones. In large quantities, dopamine changes the neuronal connections, causing thinking to become more superficial, and the affected person becomes harsher in dealing with others, less sensitive to the needs of others, etc. The process of reabsorption of dopamine lasts approximately nine days, during this time the person will be more exposed to relapses. 

It may also help to reflect that pornography hinders the person's ability to make clear decisions (due to the same destructive effect on the brain: damage to the frontal lobe, responsible for decision making) and distorts the person's vision of bodies, relationships and sexuality. In other words, those who watch pornography become dehumanized; they no longer see their partners and other people as human beings but as sexual toys that exist for their own satisfaction.


These images have been engraved in the mind and are difficult to erase. But we must not allow discouragement, but recommend ways to cleanse the memory:

-Frequent confessionThis sacrament contains a healing grace that acts in the interior of man. Encourage people to go to confession. In particular, immediately after each fall and frequently to obtain the grace necessary to purify oneself.

-Attendance at the EucharistGod gives his grace through the sacraments, which help us to overcome temptations. Everything depends on God, without him we can do nothing. Therefore, it can be recommended to attend Holy Mass more frequently.

-Memorizing paragraphs of ScriptureThe daily reading of the Holy Scriptures, learning by heart some verses, to purify little by little the interior until transforming the thoughts in a positive way, helps to cleanse the memories. Also, at the hour of temptation one can repeat, again and again, these verses.

-PrayThere are many testimonies of how the prayer of the Holy Rosary has helped many people not to fall into the vice of pornography. The invocation to the Mother of God and St. Joseph is a winning strategy.

-Using sacramentalsThe Holy Water, the crucifixes, are means that also help to overcome temptations.

Apostolate: In the experience of human life there are a few remedies that always work. When it comes to great disappointment and very intense pain, there is one remedy that works infallibly, provided it is applied carefully and consistently: it is to get out of oneself and help others. 

Establish protection strategies

It is important that the person commits to remove, delete and destroy all stored pornographic material and any audiovisual elements that lead to memories or thoughts that stimulate lust. Even -if possible- stop using or listening to those things that ignite temptation. The idea is to avoid everything that can feed the sight, since images have a great influence on thoughts.

Have a filtered internet connection at home. It is also a good idea to install a reporting (or accountability) filter on each device that notifies a third party (the "accountabily partner") of general network usage activity, as well as attempts to access harmful material. It helps a lot to lose anonymity, to be clear that anything that passes the device will be known. The two most commonly used filters are: Qustodio y Covenant Eyes

Care must be taken with the Smartphone or tablets: charge them outside the room, or hand them over to parents at night. If this is the case, cancel the data plan, which is often the main problem, and place the screens in a common place: not where you can be left alone, because it is when you are isolated that you are most tempted.

Two other useful tips. Avoid isolation and loneliness, and avoid bad company. Many times, indeed, bad friends are the cause of relapsing into the vice, either because they talk about it or send photos or messages that encourage to feed this problem. They should be avoided or silenced. chats.


This concept is closely linked to that of willpower. A person with self-discipline is one who, while preferring to be doing something else he/she wants, uses reason to determine the best course of action, i.e., the subject does what he/she knows is best to do, but in opposition to personal motivations. Encouraging self-discipline and becoming self-disciplined in something involves helping to shape and monitor oneself to achieve a goal or personal improvement. For the fight against pornography will be very important. Some help to create positive habits, for example: making the most of time, exercising, reading good books, exercising in some domestic work (responsible work) and looking for positive thoughts. 

Help the one the person wants, or at least wants to want. When you want an end, you want the means that effectively lead to that end, even if they are hard and difficult means. The will is absolutely necessary for those who want to get out of pornography. This is what Jesus Christ demanded before his miracles: Do you want to be cured (cf. Jn 5:6); What do you want (cf. Mk 10:51); If you want... (cf. Mt 19:17,21). Such a will obviously has degrees; it is not the same in everyone, but there are fundamental characteristics that are repeated in everyone: it is persevering, tenacious, firm (and becomes stronger and stronger as it repeats its actions), it overcomes failures by restarting the works that go wrong (because, despite having a firm will, the person is not exempt from mistakes, errors or frustrations), accepts challenges, overcomes falls and is able to finish the works undertaken (not leaving them halfway).

Getting out of this vice is not immediate, you have to be prepared for the disappointment of relapse. Relapse does not mean that we are not making progress. Trust in the power of God, following the advice given by Benedict XVI: "In the battles of the soul, strategy is often a matter of time, of applying the appropriate remedy, with patience, with stubbornness.". It is highly advisable to study why "falls", learn from them and add your learning to the arsenal of knowledge, ideas and strategies you need to defeat this giant. There are some ways to do so, for example, the app Victory helps to keep a record and motivations of the fall which then serves to establish new strategies.

The advice of St. Josemaría, who knew modern man so well, will also be useful, as he tells us in his most widely read book, Camino: "How deep is your fall! -Start the foundation from the bottom. -Be humble. -Cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies`. -God will not despise a contrite and humiliated heart.". 

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