67: Porn and Sex Addiction – Everything You Wanted to Know (Sort Of)

We talk with Joshua Shea from RecoveryPornAddict.com about porn addiction, sex addiction, and partner betrayal trauma. Joshua is a porn addiction and betrayal trauma services expert, in recovery himself, who helps persons struggling with addiction and their partners to find recovery. Joshua has written 3 books about porn addiction, and offers a wide variety of courses to help people become more knowledgeable about the often untalked about world of porn addiction. We talk with Joshua about his peer support services, how sex addiction is similar and different than drug addiction, the stigma surrounding porn addiction and pornography in general, signs to look for in your life that could mean you are having a problem with pornography, and what partners can do to help. Listen in to hear all these topics and more.

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To visit Joshua’s website, go here: RecoveryPornAddict.com

To find Joshua on Twitter, go here: https://twitter.com/PAddictRecovery

Transcription:

recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

all right welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason i’m a guy in long term recovery here always with billy i’m also a person in long term recovery and today we have an awesome guest who you are already looking at if you’re watching the video if you’re not watching the video then you’ll hear him in one moment find him online at www.recoveringpornatic.com and that gives you a clue today we’re talking about sex sex addiction of course not just sex so don’t get too excited he has three books to his name the addiction nobody will talk about he’s a porn addict now what and porn in the pandemic and he is a porn addiction expert and the trauma trail services gentleman himself so we welcome joshua shea to our show how you doing guys thank you for having me on this morning afternoon whenever when everybody’s listening we have you on here obviously we’re going to talk about porn addiction we are show all about recovery and addiction topics we have yet to have any sex addiction conversation on this show i came across you on reddit it’s been an interesting excursion to look into your website to look into some of your topics i mean you recently did a ted talk and just to learn more about this whole sex addiction topic so can you tell us just a little bit about how you got to where you’re at to being someone who counsels people in certain places about sex addiction

yeah well i inadvertently started young when when i had a lot of unresolved drama i’m kind of a textbook former pornography addict i had to deal with abuse both sexual and mental at the hands of a babysitter when i was a little kid i discovered pornography and alcohol pornography at 12 alcoholic 14 and they helped me repress those memories of what happened and they also quickly revealed themselves to be the only two things in the world that could calm the storm that was going on in my head and you know from the age of 12 13 up until 37 when i entered recovery which was almost seven years ago now i they they were my go-to’s i mean you guys know this as as former addicts that no matter what was happening in my life no matter whether i was dating or engaged or married whether i had kids or not whether my career was going great or was in a slow time the only two things i could consistently always count on to make me feel better to help me get through this world were the pornography and the alcohol and it took so much of my life away yet at the same hand i hid it from people very well when it came out that i was a poor addict it absolutely shocked most people floored them they couldn’t imagine that somebody who was a owner of two companies you know had a nice house nice wife good kids that you know former local politician that i could also be a porn addict because i think a lot of people view porn addicts as these 19 year old guys who live in their mom’s basement and have pimples and have never kissed a girl in real life and that’s not the reality

i’ve been to inpatient rehab both for alcohol and for uh the porn and sex addiction and i’ve been in a bunch of the 12-step rooms i’ve been in group therapy both as a participant and as a leader of some groups and i have met every type of person so there is no stereotypical poor addict it’s like drugs it’s like alcohol gambling whatever you name the addiction there is no stereotypical addict so i made the decision in 2016 yeah 2016 to start writing about it i saw that there was no general knowledge books or information out there about port addiction i could learn all about my alcoholism i could learn all about addiction in general but when i tried to find just you know straight ahead books on pornography addiction there was almost nothing there now i’m i worked in journalism for 25 years and i’m the kind of geek who will sit there and read studies and i read a lot of studies on pornography and pornography addiction and sex addiction i was like somebody needs to boil this down for the normal person for the regular guy on the street who doesn’t sit with the new england journal of medicine and go oh look at that because i like i said i’m that geek who when i say i recently read in a study i actually am telling the truth

i realized that we needed some resources out there for the addicts so i wrote my first book what surprised me after that first book came out was the amount of women who contacted me wives and girlfriends who wanted to know about their husband or their boyfriend who they believed was an addict who just admitted he was an addict and they were really lost and i had no idea that you know as much as there was nothing out there for foreign addicts there was even less for their partners by talking with these women talking with some therapists that i knew i learned a lot about betrayal trauma and that’s what they go through when they find out that their partner is a poor inner sex addict which in some cases seems even worse than being the addict themselves and tougher to get through recovery than being the addict themselves i’ve just found their plight so fascinating because they truly didn’t deserve anything and there are so many misbeliefs in that community like they contributed to the addiction you know they weren’t pretty enough they weren’t good enough in bed when you know you guys know as addicts it’s all in your head now poor addiction and sex addiction has nothing to do with what’s going on between your legs it has to do everything with what’s going on between your ears

so i wrote that and it’s just kind of snowballed from there i’ve been given some nice opportunities like you mentioned the ted talk i’ve done a few more higher-end interviews in the last six seven months and people are starting to come to me for more help come to me for more quotes and you know i’m kind of at a place now where i’m still allergic to the g word i don’t like to say god and i i prefer the word universe and i i look at it as i thought that i was here to be a local politician to be a magazine editor or a writer or a local celebrity and i realized that ultimately the universe put me through all of that so i could get to where i am today because for the first time in my life and i’m sure you guys probably feel this with your podcast as that this is really what i’m supposed to be doing this is as close to a calling as i’ve ever had i liked all that other stuff but there are very few other things in my life that are going to get me up on a sunday morning to talk to a couple strangers over zoom than talking about recovery none of that former life was ever going to do that because i was probably too hungover anyway

so you know that’s where i am today i’m trying to spread information generally about pornography addiction and betrayal trauma to make them a little bit more known in the mainstream and then i try to work with both addicts and female partners of addicts just to help them get through this process you know i think that if i can make people’s journey a little easier than mine was you know i hurt a lot of people in my life i hurt a whole lot of people in my life but now that i’m doing this i think that maybe by the time i am six feet under maybe i can help more people than i hurt and overall my life will be a net good that’s what i’m going for that’s awesome yeah so the first thing that came to mind was i think we all might have our own idea of what a porn addict looks like because your stereotype didn’t sound anything like the one i had in my head really what’s your i’d love to either let’s see our yards first and then i was thinking like i was thinking the 60 year old guy in an overcoat that like flashes on the side of the road or goes to strip clubs all the time yeah that would be an exhibitionist

here’s the thing though that i you know i’m hoping one day we’ll get straight down when people say sex addict most of the time what they mean is intercourse addict and what i’d like to see is i’d like to see sex addiction or sexual disorder or however they want to call it i’d like to see that as the umbrella term kind of like drug addiction and then you have you know the families the benzos and you know the opiates and all that i’d like to see you know sex addiction and then intercourse addiction porn addiction exhibitionism voyeurism and all of these things because i was never into exhibitionism i was never into voyeurism but i met people who were at the sex and porn rehab that i went to and when you look at somebody who has like intercourse addiction that’s closer to having a personality disorder a lot of experts will say that you know there’s a huge gulf between somebody who’s an intercourse addict and who’s a pornography addict and you’re just lumping them all together is one of the things that uh has hurt treatment and that has hurt people’s understanding of it for years

gotcha gotcha yeah i just i don’t know i i definitely thinking like the older pervier guy who’s in like the triple x movie theaters and that’s what comes to mind when i think of someone who masturbates a lot i guess that’s because it sounds like a very very 1986 stereo right i don’t think that theaters even exist anymore not sure i can’t find one anymore so what’s yours so mine was like the 30 to 50 year old guy who’s like married at home and he’s bored with his wife and he has no interest in sex with her anymore but he can go online and fantasize and have all these relationships with these beautiful young women i definitely wasn’t thinking the 19 year old in the mom’s basement it’s interesting though i’ve heard that so many times that’s what i say now people have told me uh that version of it okay that’s cool

yeah but the other thing i wanted to bring up i found it interesting that you mentioned uh very gender specifically that the men seem to be the porn addicts that you come in contact with and the women are the partners and i was wondering how often you encounter the opposite of those roles if i i do encounter it but i think it’s people who aren’t following the traditional quote unquote gender roles of this i think they feel even more stigmatized to come out i have found it’s almost easier for a gay man to add i’ve had more gay men ask me questions about their husband or boyfriend than a straight men ask me about their wife who might be a porn addict like somehow he can’t handle his wife at home or he’s not enough in bed like i think his betrayal trauma is actually hurting and i’m involved with an organization that does a lot of betrayal trauma work and i’m working with a support group of men right now who are feeling betrayal trauma most from infidelity from their wife but some with who have wives who have uh others have sex or porn addictions and it’s interesting you know seeing these guys who they feel very ineffectual but they also feel very shamed that they have got this position where they’re not much like the woman is who fears that they can’t satisfy their husband that’s why he went to porn these guys feel it the exact same way with the woman that and i think it’s almost more traumatizing for them because society says you know take care of your woman you’re the man and they run away from that

did you start your alcohol recovery at the same time you started your your porn well technically yes i quit both the same day because i love a challenge and uh but i went to inpatient rehab two weeks after i gave up alcohol and i thought i’d be there 28 days just like in all the movies and i ended up being there for 10 weeks what was interesting was when i went i don’t think i really truly understood or knew there was the concept of porn addiction it wasn’t until the end of my time at that rehab that my caseworker who started to learn about my porn use and about my attitudes and about things that had happened to me he had me meet with a guy that he knew off campus who was a certified sex addiction therapist this guy helped me realize you know that i had a bunch of unresolved issues that or unresolved memories and traumatic memories that were this close to bubbling over the surface he helped me realize that the porn addiction was a completely different addiction from the alcohol and that it actually predated the alcohol by two years and in many ways it was worse and more harmful to my life than the alcohol was it was eye-opening to find out that i had that after i left that rehab after 10 weeks that was in california i came back home to maine where i still live and i got into some really intense therapy

i did 12 steps for a little while and being the research geek i kept reading everything i could and it wasn’t until about nine months later that along with my therapist we decided i might get something out of going to an inpatient facility for sex and porn addiction i did that and i ended up spending seven weeks there and that was just one of the most transformative experiences of my life and the stuff that i learned at the first rehab this was like the advanced course and after having all that therapy and i went into that situation in a much better headspace and much healthier because i hadn’t drank in a year i hadn’t looked at porn in almost a year and i went into that place ready to really do the hard work so i was there for seven weeks that was in texas for anybody who asked if you have the resources if you have the time inpatient facilities if they’re decent can absolutely change your life and it’s a little bit cultish and it’s a little bit weird and you just have to kind of go with the program at times but i left there a much healthier person just quick story is that you know the first few days in these places you get people who show up and they’re like what the hell is going on this is a weird other society like i said it’s almost cultish and i remember this one guy who had only been there two years blurted out in the morning meeting this seems like brainwashing and the counselor looked at him and says don’t you think you need your brain washed right that was like one of those aha moments where it’s like he’s absolutely right i absolutely need to be brainwashed so that’s how that turned out as an adult with responsibilities i think you just plugged your health insurance with your 17 weeks of inpatient rehab

after after about four weeks the the alcohol it’s not hard to find rehab with insurance for alcohol because it’s generally understood alcoholism is a real thing the american psychiatric association or whatever the hell their name is who creates the dsm which is the diagnostic statistical manual which is what the real old school shrinks and what not use does not yet address sex addiction now the world health organization they have their little version of it called the icd and it just recently included sexual impulse disorder so it’s getting closer to accepting porn addiction or sex addiction and it will soon but insurance companies still don’t accept it so i was booked in there under uh obsessive-compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder which i do have and that was the only way to get my insurance to pay for it and then after about four weeks they said they would stop paying because i could go home and just be in an uh intensive outpatient deal and it was like there i mean i’m in rural maine there’s nothing here like that and so i ended up paying out of pocket the last three weeks which was like going on expensive vacation every day and it took out my life savings but it also saved my life so you know when you have life savings that are saving lives right it’s like a palindrome it’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be and

that was one of the things i was thinking as you were talking like how difficult is it i mean now that you’ve helped other people in this field and you’re kind of an expert in this field how difficult is it to find like treatment specifically for like sex or love addiction i mean are there treatment centers and counselors designing yeah there are more and more um as as it’s becoming accepted most in the mental health community despite the fact that some of the bigwigs say that they’re you know we need 30 years of study before we can you know put this in our book most people in the mental health community completely accept this now there are more and more certified sex addiction therapists popping up everywhere there are more 12-step rooms popping up it is opening up thankfully as far as when i went into rehab six years ago now for porn and porn and sex i had probably about eight specific programs ten specific programs out there to find i looked recently and i’d now say there’s 30 or 40 but for alcohol and drugs there are literally hundreds it’s slowly coming around thankfully but the other thing is is that addiction is addiction as addiction is addiction you know the where i went for the sex and the porn they did also do drugs and alcohol but they also did eating disorders when i had never really been around people with eating disorders and it was fascinating because and that was uh that program i think it had nine women and one man and what i learned from these people was just how close to sex and porn addiction the eating disorders were when it comes to drugs and alcohol the goal is complete abstinence but when it comes to porn or sex addiction the goal is healthy sexuality if you go all the way the other way to abstinent that’s just as unhealthy with eating disorders you can’t just abstain from eating food you know you need to create a healthy relationship with food so there was a lot of crossover and i really if anybody out there is listening and ever considering going to an inpatient facility i know that i learned so much more because i was with people who had addictions that were different than mine yet very similar and finding our similarities especially outside of classes when we were having dinner when we were just hanging out at night that was a huge amount and a huge piece of the the recovery as well was just listening to other people’s stories and learning from them and recognizing just how alike we all are even if our addictions are you know different flavors so somebody comes to see you and they say oh man i’m thinking i might have a problem with an overuse of porn or sex and some sort and it’s causing unmanageability in my life

i’m starting to think i might need to do something about it how difficult is it for you to convince them that they’re going to have to take a month or two months off of work and go into this expensive treatment a lot of people can’t you know that’s the thing that i say i hope that you can do this but a lot of people can’t they don’t have the time they don’t have the resources i understand and i appreciate that but what’s important to do is create a strategy and one of the things that i urge people to do early on in recovery is to try all the different modalities out there go to a 12-step room go to an individual therapist go to a group therapist that isn’t based in 12 steps try a smart recovery meeting read about it find an online forum try all of these different things because the people that i know who have been successful in addiction recovery and not just sex and porn but across the board i find that these people have created their own path and have mixed different modalities together i did 12 steps for about a year year and a half and then i hit a wall where that was as much as i was going to get out of those programs i did a a longer than i did saa and i appreciate them and i’ve got friends who i still talk to from them but for me for my personality type that’s where it stopped i know some people who have not read anything about their issues and that’s fine for them you know we all have to find our initial road i didn’t do all of the steps and i kind of did them you know mish-mashed when i was going through alcoholics anonymous and i felt a little bad that i wasn’t following this exact plan but that’s never been who i am and my sponsor at the time he was a cool guy who you know could vibe with me and he was just like dude are you drinking no do you feel like you want a drink no you know okay well then it’s working you know i’m not going to be one of these old school guys who you know wraps you on the fingers with a ruler because you’re not following the 12 steps exactly because i recognize you’re going to blaze your own trail and find your own way and i believe that you know most people who i’ve met they need to find their own way and if it’s 20 you know 12-step groups and 20 you know online forums and 60 just having an accountability partner or whatever it is that’s cool as long as you’re not using as long as you’re not having massive cravings to use as long as they’re getting better and as long as you’re doing the hard work do what you need to do that’s the important thing

i was definitely going to ask you about your participation because you had mentioned the 12-step programs and you kind of answered about how long you did them and i was curious because i think in my head i always assume that people that leave 12-step programs to to forge their own path it’s almost on a resentment or a dislike of something that took place in the program and so i was curious i mean do you recommend those meetings to people who you end up seeing nowadays do you say they’re helpful and they should try them out tell them they should try them they may be the absolute perfect answer for them i think a lot of it has to do with your personality type a lot of it has to do with with how things click with you i mean i can tell you i found aaa in southern california to be absolutely awesome i loved the people there i loved what was going on there when i got home to maine i couldn’t find meetings that i liked it was just a different breed and that was unfortunate for me with sex addicts anonymous it when sex and love acts anonymous it was even quicker i like the big city like like dallas or fort worth has so many meetings uh you come to maine there are five meetings of sex addicts anonymous in a week there is one in my town but the next closest is 40 miles away there are like two meetings of sex and love addicts and anonymous a week in maine and 40 miles away is the only one that i could go to so that was part of it but also in the room in my town that i went to for several months it seemed like it was mostly guys who were shoved there by their wives they complained about their wives they complained that they had to masturbate because their wives weren’t giving them sex or that’s why they cheated or they’re not really a porn addict but blah blah and and sitting there it was just one of these things was like this is not going to help me this is not going to be healthy for me i read the big book i read the green book that comes with saa i picked out some really good information and i met some good people who i still keep in touch with but i don’t think that sitting in those rooms were conducive to my individual recovery but there are people who have been in those rooms for 20 30 years that’s what they need that’s what they love that’s what they know and if that’s what keeps them happy and sober hey all the power in the world to you i’m not going to tell you how to stay sober interesting

so i come from baltimore originally and and i hit some some s meetings down that way i never made it to s a but i did hit s-a-a and s-l-a-a as you mentioned and i thought and you talked about it earlier the difference in gender and gender forms and how we you know society puts their views of what a male is supposed to be and a female supposed to be and in an saa meeting which is purely sex addicts anonymous it was 20 dudes we might get one lady that walked in every once in a while and it was just kind of awkward for her i think and probably for us and then to walk into slaa it was usually like 17 women and two guys and it was like i guess if you throw that love aspect in it now it’s acceptable for a woman to come because she can say that or but yeah i moved up to an area where the closest meeting to us is at least 35 minutes away well and the other thing for me is that i truly believe that addiction is a symptom of a larger problem that larger problem is almost always unresolved trauma i know in alcoholics it’s about 67 68 percent of alcoholics have some kind of unresolved trauma with porn and sex addicts it’s as high as 90 and 91 you know i i know i’m not telling you guys anything you don’t know but the addiction is like a band-aid and that’s just covering this giant wound of unresolved trauma and you can put the band-aid on it and you can hide the unresolved trauma and everything can look good from the outside but you’re not actually doing anything to fix that wound that led to the addiction i believe that you have to go into deep therapy and talk about that unresolved trauma and work your way through it and it sucks it makes you sad it makes you mad it’s frustrating you think about the years you lost you think about the bad choices you made you think about how people screwed you over it’s not fun but what ends up happening is that you end up cleaning out that wound and it heals and yes there’s still a scar there but you don’t have to put the band-aid on anymore i found once i got through my trauma work that it was so much easier not simple but so much easier to stay away from alcohol and porn because i dealt with the root problem of why i was using alcohol and porn for so many years one of my little issues with the 12-step rooms is that there isn’t any real attention paid to that they don’t pay as much attention to origin stories and trauma and some of the stuff we know now they’re still using you know science that isn’t exactly up to date and they’re going on principles that while they work for a lot of people you know if they tweak the program a little bit it might work for a few more people i didn’t see this as much in nsaa but in aaa sitting there i saw a lot of people who have been in that room for 15 years and were just dry drunks they had not actually moved forward at all they were just alcoholics who didn’t drink nothing seemed to really change that much in their life their entire life was still about alcohol but instead of about drinking alcohol it was about not drinking alcohol and that’s what they obsessed over and that’s what they’re entitled and to me that seemed like a lower quality life you know i’m glad i’m here talking to you guys about pornography i love the work i do i know it’s important work but i also like spending time with my family i like doing other things i’m not you know mr porn addiction 24 7 but a lot of these people in the 12 step rooms especially the ones that never had the family who maybe are a little more socially awkward and this is their one social outlet it seems like a lot of them are living a 12-step lifestyle that i didn’t really want any part of that didn’t seem healthy to me because it didn’t seem to really be long-term recovery it was more long-term maintenance and i was looking for recovery not maintenance

this episode has been brought to you by voices of hope inc a non-profit grassroots recovery community organization located in maryland voices of hope is made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity and respect of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopecilmd.org and consider donating to our calls

this comes across as arrogant in my own head so i’m sure it doesn’t sound good outwardly either but what i’ve found is that i bought into this 12 step in in n a when i first got in they were like oh this program solves everything in your life and i was like yes it sure does right and then at some point i ended up in therapy for some other things that sort of relate to addictive behaviors but seem to be a little different than drug use and this is clean i’m still struggling with you know a negative sense of self and acting out on things that are causing harm in my life and when i finally took those suggestions to hit these other 12-step groups whether that be saa whether that be al-anon even you know adult children of alcoholics any of these it was almost like and i feel i’ve heard this from everybody that’s that’s left an n a or a a and gone to any of these other programs at all it’s like the big leagues of 12 steps and i i hate saying that because it sounds so elitist right but but even then from there kind of like you’re talking about like these intensive therapies and this it all just seems to be almost steps and levels into a progression of it’s not like it’s better information it’s just more and deeper and and i hate to say that i’m not i know i’m offending everyone that like only only does n a right now but it’s just it’s one of those things it’s it’s like a deeper level of examination and healing i think

jesus that’s arrogant it is no no i i agree with you and i think that it’s i think a lot of people are scared and that’s that’s one of the things when i first do coaching or advising or whatever you want to call it when i sit down with with an addict or i’m doing a zoom call with an addict there is this amazing thing the first time you talk to them and they realize you’re the first person who is not going to judge them you’re the first person who is not going to shame them and you know they come into it kind of like you know when you get a new kitten and puppy or bring it home and they’re kind of skittish but then you gain their trust because you know i tell i have seen everything you have seen if not worse and i’m here and i’m fine and you know you’re not a bad person because you did this you’re just a sick person and let’s start to talk about how you can become not sick and it’s not a moral failing and it is a disease and we’ll figure out how to get through this and if going to the 12-step rooms is what is going to get you to have a higher quality life that’s great but i want you to try many different things and seeing those guys eyes just i don’t say light up but you know my goodness it’s such a weight off their shoulders the first time they can say yeah i sat at a computer for four hours and you know masturbated the entire time trying to find a piece of pornography that would help me and i just i couldn’t finish and i felt so ashamed and you know i went to bed and my wife wanted to have sex but i i couldn’t even get aroused even though i just was for four hours and you know it’s like okay that’s that’s okay i understand and you’re not the only guy this has happened to this i thought you weren’t gonna tell anybody i said that this has come to many many many people it’s okay and that’s so powerful and i don’t think you get that level of power in a 12-step group to me 12 steps is again i have issues with spirituality and religion but some of the 12-step rooms that i went into that i didn’t click with were much more on the almost religious rule-following side of things and again that’s not my personality and i’m never going to tell anybody how they should get through recovery if only 12 steps is what you want to do hey semper fi enjoy but i always urge try different modalities and understand that your addiction was caused by something and i bet if you take care of that something almost always unresolved trauma but it could be something else but always that something you’re going to find that your life is a lot easier and

unfortunately 12 steps doesn’t really like to go that route you see this nofap crap all over the internet that you know it doesn’t deal with anything deeper than not wanting to look at porn or masturbate and that’s a symptom of a problem that’s not i mean it is a problem but that’s a symptom of a bigger problem and you need to take care of the bigger problem yeah there’s definitely people in the therapeutic community would say that these maladaptive coping skills that we have really are trying to speak to us and inform us about what’s wrong and it’s like messages that we need to listen to not just nofap and ignore like you’re saying like that kind of misses the point what’s no fap oh fapping is is masturbation okay fapping fapping is slang for masturbation and the idea is that you do not engage in pornography masturbation or reach orgasm for 30 or 90 or 120 days and what that does it resets the hard drive in your head so you’re no longer addicted to this stuff which is absolute pseudoscience crap having read enough of these no-fap forums i believe that these are people who are more morally opposed or feel guilty about their use and their masturbation versus being you know died in the wool addicts a died in the wool addict is not going to not look at porn for 90 days or not masturbate for 90 days and suddenly come out the other side fixed that’s you know it’s like you’ve got you know you’ve got a broken car you let it sit in the driveway for 90 days you don’t just start driving and going hey this is great it works it fixed itself and the other thing with nofap it’s an inconvenient truth is that it started on a reddit board like 14 15 years ago now because a bunch of guys tried to recreate the seinfeld episode the contest to see who could hold out the longest i mean that that’s the truth these nofap sites are huge and again if they’re helping you good i’m glad but the science is based in a late 90s sitcom right i don’t know i’d probably base my life on seinfeld it’s pretty good i like i see as a guy i think you’d want to do three’s company okay now you bought me and i’m sold

would you say the biggest issue in 2021 with dealing with porn addiction sex addiction anything around this is still stigma is stigma the biggest hold up for people to find help for this yeah i mean it’s stigma it’s shame it’s embarrassment because there are a couple things number one we are a very puritanical society our parents and grandparents were very very puritanical now i think that the youngest generation may be swinging the other way into an unhealthy place and i bring this up because of something like only fans beginning of 2019 only fans had about a hundred thousand creators beginning of 2020 only fans had about 300 000 creators now during 2020 during the pandemic as of january 1st 2021 there are now between 1.3 and 1.5 million creators one only fans so we have added in the space of two years we have added more than a million porn stars to the world and that’s one site that’s what i think that the there is a stigma there is uh you know and and porn does talk about those little places in the back of the head that you don’t want to admit that there may be an itch and you’ve probably looked at some stuff that you don’t want to admit that you looked at but you know i always have to tell addicts and anybody you are not the porn you look at that’s you know proven but i fear that 2020 2021 because of this pandemic what we are going to learn 20 years from now much like we now know just what the effects of high-speed internet being delivered to every 12-year-old’s phone will do to them we now have statistics we’re now learning about it i think that what we are going to learn is that pornography creation is the other side of the coin with the last book that i wrote porn and the pandemic i interviewed many cam models i interviewed many only fans models both veterans and new people and what i heard across the board whether it was male female just got into it been into it to a long time yes they like the money but what they really love is the adoration they love it when somebody tells them they’re beautiful or they’re handsome i had a woman tell me that she can’t get a boyfriend in real life but now she has men giving her marriage proposals you know i’ve had guys tell me that they can walk down the street and a girl won’t look at them but they can go online and you know shake their ass and suddenly they’re a superstar and you know they go online and then act nice to somebody and they’ll pay them ten dollars or they’ll show them you know a certain part they’ll pay them twenty dollars and that’s a dopamine hit and that’s the thing is that these people who are creating pornography just like there are some some are doing it for just for the money some are not getting hooked on it at all a lot of the only fans people have actually quit and gone back to their old jobs there was just a great story in the new york times about how they’ve reached such a critical mass there are a lot of people not making money now but there is this core group that is getting way more out of it than just money they’re getting validation they’re getting love they’re getting all of these things that they didn’t have in their head and that comes with the dopamine the serotonin the oxytocin all those pleasure chemicals and what i wonder is 20 years from now are we going to have 45 and 50 year old men and women who are still getting naked online you know making a fraction of what they’re making now but still getting naked online because there’s somebody out there who tells them they’re special and that’s what they’re really addicted to so it has been rough i mean there the i don’t share too many stats anymore because of the pandemic because that has just blown the pornography industry into a place that you know it couldn’t get in 10 years but it got in a year because we were all stuck at home in front of our computers both from the consumption and the production side of things you know it’s great job security for me what’s happened in the last year and a half but it is it is insane that’s why i decided to write the book because i just wanted to document this explosion that happened and i think that 20 years from now like i said we’re going to look back and go ah that was when making pornography became an addiction and i think that that’s a form of porn addiction i guess where i was going with that and for me

i think stigma for sex and porn addiction are still huge i mean i i still think stigma for drug addiction is a big deal talking talking about the stigma i think the stigma for drug and alcohol addiction i think there’s more of a stigma for actually being willing to do it i think more people are okay with talking about it i think it’s the opposite with porn because if you look at statistics you know you are talking and now like i said i think these are low but you are talking about 80 of all men under 50 years old you know look at porn and masturbate to it once a month you’re looking at about 60 of women under that age who look at portland once a month and masturbate to it so they’re not stigmatized to do it they’re stigmatized to talk about it that’s really you know why i go on all these shows and do these interviews and write these books is because we’re not going to be able to talk about pornography addiction as a problem until we can talk about pornography and you know we’ve been talking now for you know 45 50 minutes and we haven’t described anything graphic we haven’t you know gone into an r-rated area you don’t need to when it comes to talking about pornography we just have to get over the fact that almost everybody looks at it almost everybody looks at it regularly that’s fine we can like i said you can talk morals you can talk um all of that is part of a separate discussion but we need parents to start talking to their kids about it we need to have some education in this society around pornography i’m sorry that in 2021 that’s needed but you know it’s not 1954 anymore we don’t have to teach our kids how to do air raid drills times change and this is where we find ourselves and for a healthier society moving forward we need to talk to our kids because the barna group which is a research organization they did a study in 2017 which is the number one stat i still share and say this is low they found in 2017 interviewing thousands of men in the 18 to 30 year old group about 33 percent said that they either have a problem with pornography they look at too much pornography or they are full-on addicted to pornography and this again is that generation that grew up with the internet if one out of three men under 30 thinks they have a problem with pornography if they think that they are sexually unhealthy because of pornography you know they are going to turn 40 they are going to turn 50. what do we do not only about them what do we do about all the women we still don’t know about and what do we do about these kids who are now coming up in an age where their parents don’t know a world without the internet where their parents haven’t seen the fallout of pornography addiction you know most of us know the fallout of alcohol addiction because it’s out there because it’s been happening for generations but porn addiction hasn’t been happening for generations and we need to be much more proactive than reactive yeah and

just to kind of circle back to something you mentioned earlier and i think this is apparent like raising my kids you mentioned like sex edition having this like umbrella of different you know there’s sex addiction there’s porn addiction i guess love addiction and then you mentioned a bunch of different sa programs for different things could you kind of just go over real quick the different things that would fall under kind of sex addiction in general like the fine lines between you know obsession addiction habit and whatnot are all very gray but there are four main branches of sexually involved disorders i guess you’d say you know there’s the intercourse addiction which is actually having sex with someone else and that’s that’s more about the risk behavior that’s more about going after that kind of high with pornography addiction that is more about control in your life and that that kind of reflected myself and my story and then you also have to much lower numbers uh exhibitionism which a lot of and voyeurism those are very much both about the thrill of uh doing something dangerous and you know hoping you’re not caught and there were a lot of guys out there like that i mean i i can tell you that i’m obviously not going to name any names but there was a professional athlete in one of the big four sports at the second rehab that i went to for porn and sex and he was conveniently retired by the organization shortly before we met and he came to the rehab but he had an issue with masturbating in his truck after games and he got caught a couple times but because he’s superstar fill in the name here you know it never got to the police it never got beyond that but he was not doing it just because it feels good he could do that back at his mansion you know he was doing it because he was getting the thrill of the idea of somebody may catch him and even kind of wanting to be caught as part of it so there are different spokes and i can tell you that as someone who was a porn addict i i was not intercourse addicted at all you know i’ve got my wife and i didn’t feel like going down those roads the idea of trying to peek in somebody’s window to see something just skeeves me out much like somebody looking in my window you know voyeurism i don’t really get it i don’t i don’t feel any anger or any bad feelings for somebody who has to deal with it or exhibitionism if if your brain and your mind is telling you to be the guy in the trench coat who flashes well that’s just like your brain telling you to do that next line of coke that’s like your brain telling you to put your kids college fund on red on roulette if you’ve got a gambling addiction it’s telling the food addict have another piece of cake you know addiction is addiction as addiction is addiction and we talk about the stigma i think what people are afraid of even more than the stigma is the embarrassment and the shame that comes with it because we all still pretend we don’t look at porn and we even the healthy people and we all still pretend that we don’t masturbate to it even the healthy people and until we just recognize hey guess what we’re all common this way because we’re all sexual beings and sexuality is not bad a lot of people you know sometimes mistake and think that i become anti-sexual or i’m not at all i think that there is healthy sexuality and unhealthy sexuality and what we need to do is preach more healthy sexuality in this world and healthy sexuality to me may look different to you may look different to your wife may look different to the person across the street but if you are aware of the difference between healthy and unhealthy sexuality if you know where your boundaries are if you know where your partner’s boundaries are it’s not that hard to be healthy and healthy sexuality and is an amazing thing i mean sexuality is what brought us all here go to a fine art museum you know in a city near you and you go to their you know egyptian exhibit and you’re going to be able to find pottery and stuff that has some super hardcore triple x rated stuff painted on it it’s not like we’re gonna get rid of pornography it’s not like people haven’t always been interested in pornography and the depiction of sexuality i think that’s absolutely natural i think the curiosity absolutely makes sense but much like you teach your kid not to put their hand on a stove even though a stove can do great things for you you have to teach some caution with pornography as well and we’re at a place in the world where because we’ve never seen the kind of access that we have to it now and our little lizard brains are not evolving fast enough at the speed of technology we need to pause and talk about this and think about it

no that’s great so we’re getting a little short on time i guess i really super appreciate that you’re willing to come on and talk about this and put your name your face and all that behind it like you mentioned the shame i dealt with my own shame and and stigma type feeling when seeking help for dealing with anything that had to deal with sex i remember wanting to go to a particular saa meeting in my town that took place in the same church at the same time on the same night as an n a meeting and i was terrified to go for months because what if i see my n a friends in the parking lot and then tell them i’m going into that other meeting right i don’t want to be labeled and i’m not trying to put down people who struggle with drug addiction whatsoever but i’m thinking in my head christ i’m worried about being judged by dope fiends from in a basement yeah that’s they’re going to judge me it’s even lower right because i had this picture of self-stigmatization the the sex addict is the pedophile right or something along those lines and i think more people need to talk about it and i’ll say even today i’m still a little reluctant to mention that part of my recovery at times out in the open because it’s not the most glamorous thing but it takes people like you and you know to a lesser extent like me opening up about this to really do something about it and change the way people view it and i can’t thank you enough for being that guy that’s willing to do that because there’s just not many people willing to do that well i just want to say and i i want to thank you for giving me the platform you know i have been doing this for a few years now and while it’s getting better with podcasts in the beginning when i was you know soliciting to be on podcasts it was a tough road people were you know even just three years ago scared to death to talk about it not interested to talk about it wow just i don’t know what they thought that i would say or do or they were afraid that i think pornography is one of those words that people fear that if you say it out loud people will be able to see look in your eyes and see that you can look at it or something absolutely

as a final question sort of what signs and symptoms would there be for someone who’s struggling with either sex or porn addiction or even a partner could see in those individuals that are like sure signs that it might be time to reach out and ask for some help or at least seek some help or consultation uh well you know when anybody ever comes to me and says i think i may have a problem i always say to them you know do you have a problem walking a straight line no do you have a problem using your remote control for your tv no okay well you’ve come to me thinking you have a problem with this if you think you have a problem with this you have a problem with this you’re not here to talk to me about the million other things you could have a problem with so if you’re questioning it you’re probably in the process of accepting it and and let’s let’s get you to the point that you can accept this and let’s get a baseline for you the one thing i i would say to to addicts that i always hear with every porn addict is if you find that your frequency and duration is increasing because you cannot find that perfect piece of porn to to finish with let’s say that’s a big sign if you are planning your day around looking at pornography or masturbating or if that’s what you’re looking forward to at the end of the day that or or you wake up in the morning that’s the first thing that you want to do so you can get on with your day that that’s a bit of a red flag are you starting to substitute the pornographic acting out behaviors from things that you used to do you know do you do you not watch netflix every night now because you’re watching porn you don’t have time for netflix anymore do you not hang out with friends anymore i mean granted it is the pandemic but are your behaviors and things that you used to enjoy doing being replaced by pornography and do you feel more defensive about it if someone mentions pornography does that set you off like oh i gotta get out of here so they don’t see or they don’t know or if someone asks you you know are you using you’re using pornography aren’t you and you get real tense or you get defensive well you know if someone asked you are you allergic to wearing a clown nose you’d laugh at them and say no of course not i don’t have clown noses but if you get defensive that someone paints you as a porn addict there may be something to that so those are all little red flags to look at in the beginning of porn addiction as for being the partner as for being a loved one who knows this is happening it’s very different if the person has accepted it or not if they haven’t accepted it just gingerly mention it you know there are some signs that i think that you’re using too much pornography and then walk the hell away that’s all you can tell them the first time that’s you don’t want to get in a discussion you don’t want to play lawyer and build your case you don’t want to shame them you don’t want to make them feel they’re suddenly not in a safe place just say you know there are some signs that i think you might be using pornography too much i i heard this [ __ ] with a glasses and a beard on a podcast and i he thinks you’re using too much porn blame me that’s fine and uh and walk away you’ve planted a seed that’s all you can do right now and let them think about it and maybe you bring it up again sometime in the future if you see that behavior if you see them deteriorating you let the person know that you’re there for them you let them know that you do not judge any problem they may have you know somebody who is a porn addict is not an evil person they’re a sick person and you let them know that they’re in a safe place with you that they can talk about anything that you won’t judge them you won’t embarrass them that any stigma they have this is a stigma free zone and drive that point home again and again and if you are very close to them you know if you being a you know friend who sees this person once a week is one thing if you’re the wife or the girlfriend or husband or whatnot who sleeps next to them in bed and this is starting to affect you and starting to affect you emotionally you need to get help as well because when the

i mean you guys know this when the addict gets sick everybody around them gets sick so self-care is huge for the people in the household if you’re having adverse effects because of your partner’s addiction you need to get into therapy you need to talk you need to learn more about self-care if you’re experiencing betrayal trauma you know you can go through many of these programs you can talk to coaches or people like me who can invalidate your feelings but we can also help you get to a different place of understanding and ultimately if you’re a partner what you have to understand and appreciate is that it is going to be on them to get better it is their decision it is their hard work people say to me you’ve got such a wonderful wife who stuck by you and you know and my marriage right now is better than ever but i know that if i had not done that early hard work in recovery she wouldn’t be here now she set some boundaries and and i recognized my priorities and you know i i followed them and we have a great life now so if you need to put some boundaries in place that’s the healthiest thing in the world that you can do i think that wives and girlfriends or you know partner spouses i think that they have the most leverage of anybody on earth but if you’re going to create boundaries and if you’re going to create effects of those boundaries and consequences of those boundaries you have to make sure that you’re willing to stick to them you know if i catch you using pornography you and i will not be sleeping in the same bed until you get into a 12-step program well if you catch him using pornography he better damn well not be allowed in your bed otherwise your word is worthless so there’s a few things for the partners this is this is

i don’t want to say partners of drug addicts or any other addict have things any easier but it’s been shown and basically and pretty much proven that partners of porn and sex addicts go through some emotional stuff that others don’t you know if you’re a heroin addict your wife doesn’t wonder if she’s not enough in bed you know if you’re a gambling addict your wife doesn’t wonder if she’s not pretty enough for you that’s what happens it’s it’s a giant blow to personal self-esteem finding out that you’re the partner of a porn or sex addict at least in 70 percent of the partners who have to deal with it awesome thank you so much for all that again this has been joshua shea who we’ve been talking to today and he is on recovering porn addict all one word dot com and you can go on there you can find his three books the other things he has he has counseling services as he mentioned and there’s a lot of courses you can take the basics of pornography addiction differences between addiction and recreational use how to handle confrontation or disclosure a ton of resources on there if you have any questions i mean just go on and explore i know billy went on and explored the website as did i a ton of research information articles blogs courses it’s a great place to start if you’re looking for you know the idea of am i struggling with something or what can be done about it so we really appreciate having you on today joshua i definitely i’m thinking about having you on again because i want to argue with some of your your points you made i would love that i would love that because you’re wrong awesome man thank you all right you have a good one

so that was a lot of fun talking to josh what kind of things did you get out of it uh yeah for me i’ve i’d say luckily i’ve not been a person that’s struggled with sex addiction so i can appreciate you know as being an addict like i understand i can get addicted to anything or people can get addicted to anything and the dangers associated with it but for myself i took a lot away for parenting as far as things to look out for with my kids or my family maybe some warning signs and and things to make them aware of we’d sort of talked about i would explain to like my son i specifically think of my son because my daughters are a little older but you know i specified my son’s 12 he has access to the internet and whatever he’s looking at on there getting to that age and so having a conversation with him about pornography and what he might come across and understanding like that’s a fake fantasy world that is not really how sex works um similar to like like when you watch movies like the fast and the furious or you know military movies like that’s not how cars work that’s not how you know you can’t go out and do those things in a car around the city and not die like similar with sex like what you see in porn and on the internet and these videos is not like the reality of how healthy sexual relationships should typically work one guy’s not saving the world from terrorism yeah you’re ruining my beliefs in hollywood you can’t just spin your car around backwards and go 90 mile an hour in reverse you mean you’re not supposed to have sex with every step member of your family i have no idea yeah right your stepsisters your cousins step everybody right yeah no i think that’s really a crucial point i mean porn is skewing how young people view sex and it definitely like there’s research you know we know that people who regularly view porn have unsatisfying sex lives right because it never lives up to it

well and i was researching some other information leading up to this and someone you know was a female and she was talking about how in a lot of porn especially nowadays and if you go back and study there’s been a huge rise in the i don’t know what you want to call it like the abuse or you know negativity expressed towards women the sort of slapping the gagging the atm if you don’t know what that is you know it’s it’s mouth i’ll tell you okay yeah those kind of things like that’s become pretty mainstream you know in a lot of pornography now this derogatory sexual actions towards women and in a lot of that stuff like not only do the women not say anything about you know whatever the slapping hitting being called a [ __ ] or [ __ ] right they actually like it’s a turn-on it’s like a welcome it’s and that can be pretty unhealthy for some people super tricky because there are women out there and whether it’s from trauma or whether it’s just who they are by nature uh do like that and it is eternal but then at the same time you know the conversations about is this increasing rape culture and and you know unhealthy masculinity in ways that are demeaning to women and to absolutely i you going back to the kids thing like i caught my son looking up some kind of boobs pictures when he was like six and had a tablet from amazon or something that we got him for cr like the things i didn’t expect and and the difficulty of trying to say hey this isn’t really age appropriate completely and it’s not something you should have access to but at the same time don’t be ashamed about this we’re all curious what people look like without clothes like it’s so hard to walk that line of this is wrong [ __ ] but also it’s not bad because it’s natural to want to right and i don’t have the answers for that so it was interesting i think some of the things i

i want to have joshua back on to argue about is the idea that i’ve heard women whose husbands relapsed saying i wished he would have cheated on me because this feels like much more of a betrayal and so just that kind of concept that that you know partners self-esteem doesn’t also suffer just as much from drug addiction because you’re still choosing something over the person i’ve even heard women say i could understand if he slept with some prettier woman i don’t understand him going out to get high yeah and i have heard you know family members or people say exactly the you know of addicts say exactly those things like why am i not enough why is his family not enough you know his kids aren’t enough yeah and i don’t doubt the information he’s given i just i think that’s interesting that you know it sounds a lot like what i’ve also heard for some other places well and like most of these other conversations on the podcast it just reminds me like yeah there’s a lot of different forms of addiction out there and what we share in common are the feelings you know it’s the shame the guilt the i’m doing this and i don’t even quite understand why sometimes but this is what i do because it makes me feel good and sometimes all i want to do is feel good and you know that can take so many different weird faces and forms there’s a really interesting reading in saa called the bubble it’s kind of like to me i think their version of the triangle is self-obsession and it just it sort of explains how when we act out sexually when we sexualize our stress and act out sexually we put ourselves in this protective bubble that takes us away from the 48 things i need to worry about today are my kids healthy are they acting up are they doing drugs or are my bills paid do i have money to pay the bills did i take the right amount of loan out do i have too much credit card debt like instead of all these i just worry about can i meet this sexual need or urge i have and it simplifies life and so it’s like a very much an escape and a protective bubble we kind of escape reality floating away inside this bubble and something to look into if you’re interested so glad he was on here i think we don’t talk enough about sex addiction porn addiction the problems that come along with it i was sad we had to keep it to an hour just for the sake of keeping it manageable editing but yeah i would definitely love to have him back on and talk some more about this i wanted to talk more about the betrayal trauma side you know we kind of touched on that but there’s a lot more there i know i had like 10 more questions

but yeah so hopefully we’ll have joshua again hopefully you guys got something out of that go visit his website check into that if you need to learn more if you’re searching for help he’s a good place to start for that kind of resource and we’ll see you next week

we’re always looking for new and interesting ideas for topics sort of if you have any ideas for episodes or think you have something to come on and talk about reach out to us

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