Recovery is a journey and a process. More often than not we see that pure willpower, quitting cold turkey and just white knuckling through your problems don’t really solve anything. This is because addictions are made up of many different facets of our lives and often tied to deeper root issues. It would be easy to blame a porn addiction on a high sex drive, but that is almost never the case. In fact, many porn users even suffer from severly low labido. So recovery isn’t simple and we are all at different steps along this path.

Different stages of the recovery process may require different focuses and strategies. The basic principles remain the same but as you grow and progress, you should be adapting your plans and actions accordingly. It is very important to be aware of where you are in your recovery and what you need to be doing in order to have the most success.

Figuring that out exactly can be a bit tricky, so let us help with that.

First take a look at these questions and think about which answer best applies to you.

Between setbacks, I consistently have:
a) Over a month of sobriety
b) About two weeks of sobriety
c) Less than a week of sobriety

When it comes to people I can talk to about my addiction:
a) I have a few close friends that all know and help me in my recovery.
b) I have confided in one person that I trust
c) No one knows about my addiction

Prioritising my life with work, school, friends and hobbies:
a) Is challenging but I feel organized and I fulfill my responsibilities
b) I can keep on top of the important stuff but some things fall through the cracks
c) There is so much I need to do, I have no idea where to start. Why try?

When I have a setback:
a) I am completely honest about it with my Accountability Partners
b) Sometimes I fudge the numbers, just by a day or two.
c) I never record them, it just gets depressing.

Along with my addiction, depression and anxiety:
a) Are things I have really learned to deal with through my recovery, or I have never really struggled with.
b) They come and go. It really sucks but I can usually keep my head up.
c) Can be overwhelming at times, and often trigger setbacks

NOTE: There are even more questionnaires and inventories in the Fortify Program to help you identify strengths and weaknesses. If you have already done them, review them to get a good view of your progress. If not keep working on the program, you’ll find them in weeks 7, 8 and 9.

Ok, you can probably see where we’re going with this. You might have answered a mix of the questions but it you answered mostly “C” you’re probably in phase one of recovery, if you answered mostly “B” you’re in phase two and phase three if you answered “A”. This is not a scale of better or worse, every phase has it’s own unique challenges.

Another really important thing to remember is that recovery is almost never a straight line. If you’ve been at this a while, you’ve probably been in any or all of the phases at some point. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is where you are right now and where you are going to go from here.

Phase One

The main problem Fortifiers usually face in this point of their recovery is negativity. Porn has gotten a handle on their lives and it has really messed stuff up. Because of this, they feel angry, disappointed and even hateful towards themselves. None of his is helpful. Even if you feel like you deserve it, piling negativity on top of your already existing problems solves nothing. The other huge issue you could be facing is isolation. When life feels this out of control and the worst thing you can do is try to go it alone. If you don’t have someone in your life you can talk to about this stuff, start looking.

So what can you do about it?

This phase may require a little more structure than the others. Putting filters on your devices or restricting your access to them all together. Staying off of things like social media, dating apps or anything with easily accessible sexual content. Some Fortifiers will even break their days down into a strict schedule, with their daily goals and responsibilities laid out for them.

Focus on every victory and stay positive. Reaffirm your long term goals but don’t expect an overnight change, try to take things one day at a time. Give yourself the space you need to recover. If you don’t believe you can do this, you probably won’t.

Phase Two

Now it’s time to start stretching your muscles and expanding your strategies. You’ve learned a lot and you’re doing some really good things but you might be having trouble gaining some real long term traction. Try to start examining your setbacks more, look at how you felt before and after each one.
What were you doing before your setback? How was your day going?Are there other habits that you are overindulging in that set the tone for watching porn? Are they happening in the same places, with the same devices? Use your Battle Tracker data to help you build a better strategy.

You will probably need to start examining some of the deeper issues of your addiction at this point. Which can be hard, but be patient and thoughtful. Try to see past the basic urges and look at what is driving you to watch porn. You’ll also need to practice your in the moment reactions to triggers and temptation. Using methods like STAR, or having positive activities to reroute your urges is key. Calling up a friend if you’re on thin ice is a great spur of the moment safety line.

Try to keep your accountability partners involved and include them in your strategies. It is important that you set your own goals and do the work for yourself, but they could have some very good insights.

Phase Three

At this phase you’re doing really good. You’re probably starting to see pretty long streaks and you’re becoming a master at getting out of the addiction cycle. However, sometimes this stage can
be just as hard, because it comes with it’s own set of obstacles.

It is really important to stay vigilant, remember that you got here because you got good at the little things, if you let them slide you could end up losing some ground. Even something as simple as making sure you keep recording in your Battle Tracker daily can help you stay focussed. Another thing to watch out for is backward rationalization. This means that you convince yourself that you’re doing well enough to use porn. Maybe you convince yourself that you deserve a reward, maybe you believe you aren’t officially an addict anymore. No matter how you spin it, this type of rational is the same “just this once” mentality that got you here in the first place.

Even after long streaks of victories, things like temptation, urges, depression, anxiety, or triggers can crop up regularly. If fact we can almost guarantee they will. Don’t get discouraged because you aren’t “cured” yet. If you expect life to become challenge free through your recovery, you are in for a let down. Just keep moving forward.

New growth brings new challenges, so remember what you have learned and be aware of new traps. Full recovery is possible, but that doesn’t mean we should open ourselves up to harm. You may always feel some level of urges or temptations, and you will probably discover new ones as you grow. That’s OK. As you build personal resilience and positive connections you will have the capacity to avoid and withstand them.