Pornography: The Other Pandemic

At this time of national emergency due to the COVID-19/Coronavirus, everyone’s lives have been affected. People’s jobs are being labeled as “essential” or “non-essential,” and their lives are torn between the need to work and the need to care for their health and the health of loved ones. This Coronavirus pandemic is painful for everyone. At the time of this writing (March 26, 2020) there have been 83,144 cases of Coronavirus in the U.S. with 1,201deaths (1.44% of the cases) and 1,864 recovered (2.24% of the cases). 

But there is another pandemic that is occurring. It has been occurring for years longer than the Coronavirus, and it affects a large swath of the population of the United States. The pandemic of porn addiction/compulsive usage also has a history of destruction in its wake – no, typically not in the form of deaths, but it does destroy marriages and lives. Over 70% of men aged 18-24 years old will visit a pornographic website at least once a month. The largest group of online porn users are men between the ages of 35 and 49 years old. But lest you think this is a “male-only” problem, fully one-third of all internet porn users are women. 

It is true that not every person who views pornography is addicted or has a compulsive problem with porn and sex. But the estimate of those with “problematic pornography” usage is between 5-8% of the entire population of our nation. In raw numbers that means that in our country (based on estimates of 372.2 million people in the U.S.) between 18,610,000 to 29,776,000 likely have a compulsive pornography problem/addiction problem in their lives. That means that between 18.6 million to almost 29.8 million people around us are fighting a pornography compulsion/addiction battle and need help with recovery from this pandemic disease of porn. 

Keep in mind that those 18.6 to 29.8 million people have wives, husbands, partners, children, and other relatives that are affected by their pornographic usage. Porn hurts not only the consumer, but also their family members and loved ones. Between 86-90% of partners of porn addicts say that it adversely affects their relationship. As many as 56% of divorce proceedings cited an “obsessive interest” in pornographic sites as a factor. The porn addicts are affected in ways that range from emotional disconnect from their family member to co-occurring diagnoses of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and porn-induced erectile disorder. Their loved ones are living with these issues vicariously, in addition to their own trauma.

Here at LifeSTAR of the Central Valley, we are greatly concerned about the Coronavirus Pandemic and are pursuing telehealth options for treatment as the world adapts to this crisis. But we also recognize that we have been in the battle for over 10 years fighting the Pornography Pandemic that exists in our country and have helped hundreds of cases recovery from this “other pandemic.” We hope to be able to help you or your loved one in need.

By: Kyle N. Weir, PhD, LMFT, Clinical Director

LifeSTAR of the Central Valley helps individuals, partners, and families to heal from the effects of pornography and sexual addiction. Complete our Self-Evaluation today to discover if LifeSTAR is right for you.

Posted in Addiction, Anti-Porn Movement, Partner of Sexual Addict, Recovery, Sexual Addiction | Leave a comment

The C’s of Addiction Recovery

C’s. Most people strive for A’s. If this were school, I’d recommend you strive for A’s, but recovery is real life, not school. In recovery you need C’s more than A’s. Let me explain.

Recovery from addiction isn’t something you can approach solely Academically (an A). You can’t study your way out of addiction – though gaining knowledge is a first step. You must add to that knowledge the deeper, experiential elements of life – connection, consideration, and consistency – and you must avoid the siren song of one seductive state of mind – complacency.

Connection is the key to both overcoming addiction and establishing trustworthy relationships. Sexual addiction, in particular, is a form of intimacy disorder and deeply rooted in attachment patterns. Learning to connect with one’s self, God or a Higher Power, spouse or partner, and an accountability partner are key parts of early and ongoing recovery.

Consideration involves “considering” the thoughts and feelings of self and important “others” in our lives. We have to make space in our minds to think about our needs, feelings, and yearnings – and then determine how to address meeting those needs in the context of important relationships. We also have to consider the consequences of our choices and actions on others we care about.

Consistency is the third C of recovery. Recovery requires perseverance, grit, determination, and tenacity on a consistent basis. Ingraining the dailies into our lives and doing our “homework” consistently best aids recovery. Dailies must be done “every day,” not just while in LifeStar, but throughout our lives.

The one C you must avoid in recovery – the antithesis of consistency – is complacency. Too often I see participants in LifeStar achieve success for a period of months and they become complacent. They feel like they’ve “got this” and become lax on their dailies and homework. That’s when slips and relapses happen. The LifeStar program is designed to engage in “prelapse” work a few months into the program to strive to caution against complacency and prevent relapse, but the effort and vigilance must necessarily remain with the person doing the recovery work for himself or herself.

So, strive for C’s in your recovery – connection, consideration, and consistency, but avoid the one C of complacency in your recovery work. You will be prouder of those C’s than any A you ever could achieve on a report card.

By: Kyle N. Weir, PhD, LMFT

Posted in Addiction, Inspiration, Recovery, Sexual Addiction, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Are You REALLY Doing?: Checking In With Yourself

I would imagine one of the most-asked questions in a person’s life is some variant of “How’re you doing?” or “How’s it going?”

And how do we usually respond? All together now: “Good!”

That “good” could be a pat, polite answer, or could be the truth, but either way, it’s not very descriptive, and it usually stops the flow of conversation.

In our many weekly groups here at Roubicek & Thacker, we have all participants go around at the beginning and do what we call a “check in”. They all start with each person answering questions of three aspects of themselves:

  • How are you doing physically?
  • How are you doing emotionally?
  • How are you doing spiritually? *

If you notice, it starts with your body, and gets progressively more specific about different aspects of your being. When someone checks in, they usually give a one-word answer, and don’t feel pressure to explain their answer to the group. Simply learning to be with their physical sensations, emotions, or spiritual connection is a part of the healing process.

What we don’t realize often is each of these aspects can be functioning at different levels from each other, and when we quickly say “Good!”, we might only be answering for one of these aspects of our lives – and we’re pretty complicated! This check-in process is to help each person become more attuned with themselves, especially those hurt by trauma, addictions, or those who weren’t necessarily taught to identify their feelings.

I usually suggest to my clients they try to do this, however often it feels comfortable to them. For some, it’s daily, for some it’s a few times every hour. This helps us become aware of how we’re actually doing, if someone were to ask us “Hey, how are you?”, and we were to honestly answer them.

I’d encourage you to find a time in your day to check in with these different aspects of yourself. Remember, we can’t share with others what we don’t know about ourselves!

* We know not everyone classifies themselves as ‘spiritual’, so we clarify by saying spirituality is having a felt sense of connection with something/someone outside of yourself. This could truly be anyone: a friend, a partner, God, your children, etc. We’re essentially asking “How connected do you sense/feel a connection with those outside of yourself?” This helps us identify whether or not we feel supported in the world.

By: Karen Huckaby, MA, AMFT

Posted in Addiction, Inspiration, Recovery, Self-care, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to Survive the Holidays

My groups and I have had some interesting conversations recently about self-care, specifically when it comes to the holidays. Now there are numerous articles written about staying healthy during the holidays, but I’d like to offer my input about how we can best care for ourselves, and ultimately others (notice the order), especially if you’re someone in active recovery.


Even if you’re healthy, there’s in an influx of potential food, people, activities to be a part of. This means a higher likelihood of overeating, getting annoyed with someone, and over-committing to things. Even if you’re not in recovery, the holidays can also trigger past pains or traumas from our past that we’d rather not remember. Our brains use holidays as memory markers, so even if you try really hard to avoid something, sadly sometimes your brain is going to remember it anyway. So, here are some ways to be pro-active in your recovery:

Know What Your Triggers Are

If you know that you’re prone to overeating when your aunt corners you to talk politics, or you emotionally shut down every time your grandfather asks you about your job, or loud noises/voices bother you…it’s okay to change the topic, or even politely excuse yourself from the conversation!

Have a Game Plan

It’s one thing to be surprised by difficult situations, but if you know you’re going into one, why not have a game plan for after? If there’s a gathering/event/people you have difficulties committing to and getting along with, it’s quite alright to make a quick plan of something you can do either during or afterward to help alleviate any stress you might incur.

In the moment, you might step outside for some fresh air, drink some water, bring some earplugs (if you’re sensitive to noise like me), and know that it’s allow yourself to take a break.

Sit in the Feeling

See if you can sit in the feeling for one minute longer. It won’t last long. Yes, it feels like an eternity, but hard things do increase our capacity for growth. Try waiting one minute longer than you typically would before tapping out of discomfort.

The holidays have the potential to be everything under the sun, and sometimes we can’t always control what happens, or how we will react to things. But we can control how we respond to our own needs, so that we can best be ourselves to those around us during this season.

Posted in Addiction, Female Sexual Addiction, Inspiration, Recovery, Self-care, Sexual Addiction, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Being Self-ish

Self-ish (adj.) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

Self (n.) a person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality; a person’s nature, character, etc.

Recently, (okay for the past few years), there’s been an uptake in awareness of the importance of self-care. You can read a vast number of articles on how self-care isn’t selfish and how many people can get those two phrases mixed up. My clients and I discuss this frequently, and it’s always encouraging to see how people take care of their physical/emotional selves in their own unique ways.

But I’ve noticed something else. When I aim to better myself, I usually do things like try new hobbies, double down on my daily routine, exercise more, minimize my life, etc. Sometimes, the efforts peter out, and I end up back where I was. Or…I can get so consumed in my efforts, I forget how they might affect those around me. Sometimes I can even do these things so much that I might be labeled selfish because of my focus on my own personal pleasure and lack of consideration for those around me (ahem, the definition of selfishness).

See, this lean into selfishness takes me away from myself and makes me self-ish. I end up falling short of who I’m meant to be. [The “-ish” of a word refers to “having the characteristics of” or “like” something or someone] It means I’m sort of like myself, but not really.

So how do I be fully myself without being selfish or self-ish?

My initial step in all of this is pursuing balance. I’m not a naturally balanced person and I have to work fairly hard to create balance in my life. For me, I’ll likely focus on recalibrating the priorities in my life, which can be difficult if my life is structured a certain way. But there’s never a better time than now to re-evaluate what’s really important in your life to make your self more you. We need to have the right balance of us, others, interests, meaning, etc.

There’s been a helpful analogy I’ve really loved over the years called “the jar of life” that assists in pointing out how we can better prioritize our time. Check out the video below to see the analogy in action!

The moral of the story is, we’re all selfish, self-ish, and learning how to be more like our real selves. We just need to keep prioritizing the right things to stay balanced to be less selfish and self-ish. What ways have you found to become more you?

By: Karen Huckaby, MA, AMFT

Posted in Addiction, Inspiration, Recovery, Self-care, Self-Compassion, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is Sex Addiction Real?

Check out this great video by NBC Left Field, featuring Floyd Godfrey MAPC, LPC, CSAT. Floyd is the Executive Director of LifeSTAR Mesa Arizona.

We always hear about sex addiction when a celebrity gets caught doing something they’re not supposed to. A public sex scandal is typically followed by them announcing they are seeking recovery from sex addiction. Many, however, can’t separate compulsive sexual behavior from a person’s morality. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization classified sex addiction as a mental disorder. So experts now hope that this development will help de-stigmatize sex addiction.

Posted in Addiction, Anti-Porn Movement, Female Sexual Addiction, Partner of Sexual Addict, Recovery, Science, Sexual Addiction, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dealing With Emotional Turbulence

If you’ve ever flown, you’ve likely experienced it. It can happen on any flight. Turbulence is the shaking of the plane due to air pressure or weather conditions outside. The aircraft might shake a bit, or rock about in jolts, strong enough to knock a person over.

It can dislodge certainty in a person and can send them into a psychological tailspin of worrisome freefall (yikes, pun intended?). It can even be so unnerving that many refuse to fly because of it.

So what happens when you experience emotional turbulence?

Oftentimes we use turbulence to describe our emotional or psychological distress. It can assist us in giving words to what we feel inside our hearts and minds. And every once and awhile, it can catch you off guard.

I’m not sure about you, but when I experience emotional or flight-related turbulence, the thing I almost always do is hold my breath. Until I had some training on grounding techniques, I figured holding my breath in anxiety-provoking circumstances would help me feel better. Turns out, NOPE. Your brain needs free-flowing oxygen both to make decisions and calm yourself. So once I learned some simple breathing and grounding exercises, I realized turbulence isn’t so bad.

Below is one such grounding exercise (I’ve used this exact one in the air AND on the ground). You can always check out “breathing exercises” or “grounding for anxiety”, to find a method that works for you.

Happy breathing!

By: Karen Huckaby, MA, AMFT, YouthSTAR Central Valley Director

Posted in Addiction, Inspiration, Recovery, Self-care, Self-Compassion, Uncategorized | Leave a comment