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Defining Addiction

Am I an Addict?

GYE Corp. Monday, 13 February 2012

Dear Rabbi Twerski,

My wife found out I was viewing pictures and she was very offended, and rightfully so. It almost ruined our marriage! However, since she found out and I admitted everything to her, literally everything, she suggested I get help. She thinks I have an addiction. She could be right, I am not sure. I think I'm a normal guy and I have the same challenges as other guys. I don't know how to classify an addiction. Do I need professional help with counseling and group therapy? Or am I just a normal guy with a high libido?

Rabbi Twerski Responds:

There are probably a number of ways to define addiction. If you have a desire to do something, and know you shouldn't be doing it but go on to do it anyway, that indicates a loss of control. When this is repetitive, it justifies being considered an addiction.

OCD people may feel compelled to do things, but these are generally not things that are wrong. For example, repeated hand-washing, repeating words in davening, etc. OCD often responds well to medication, addiction does not.

You should accept that you do not have control over your sexual acting-out, and therefore avail yourself of sources of help.


More on the Nature of the Addiction

See also this article where Rabbi Twerski implies that one can get addicted to these things from a single viewing!

Even if someone can go without these behaviors for long periods of time, he is still addicted if specific situations make him feel powerless to resist it - in spite of it being against his morals and inner desires. As Rabbi Twerski once asked someone who claimed he wasn't an addict, "so why don't you just stop?"

See also this page for more about the nature of these addictive behaviors.

In Elya's recent phone conference with the sex-addiction therapist Michelle Rappaport on the line, the addictive nature of pornography was discussed (as posted by "Kedusha" over here):

In the past, there used to be people who used pornography without seeming to become addicted. That is no longer the case today. Using pornography today is 100 times worse than using pornography was in the past. Internet pornography, which is so readily available, is as addictive as crack cocaine. Virtually anyone who uses Internet pornography today is at high risk of becoming addicted. Regarding teenagers especially, Michelle indicated that addiction was a virtual certainty for those exposed to Internet pornography. Reason: no one knows about it, they're ashamed and won't tell anyone, and they'll keep wanting to come back for more. [The situation might be different if a parent (or other adult) finds out early on and intervenes]

"RATM" posted Chizuk to someone recently on the forum:

You know, you are a warrior.. It's just us few against the world... There is an active push, the likes of which we have never seen in the history of the world, to convert the entire world into a cesspool of lust... Even in the hippy free-love 60s, the stuff was limited in terms of its frequency and location... We have reached a point where lusting uncontrollably is encouraged and glorified... So for you to have taken on this challenge, you have decided to take on the world itself... I don't know how Reb Guard came up with this network or if he is some sort of Navi, but this refuge may be the only hold-out left on Earth... Thank you for being a part of it...