By my most recent count, today is day 237 of no PMO (or what I will now refer to as MOP because that is the order in which every one of my past slips occurred...when I chose to let them happen.)
The following is an excerpt of an even more ridiculously long post which can be found in ekamau14's blog entitled "diverting your attention towards more creative activities and actions." He wrote a short and very inspiring post about how things really do get better once you get some time away from MOP and that there is power in finding alternative activities to replace porn with. Somewhere in there he poses a question about alcohol and I decided to take up this question which is one I've given a little thought to in the 55 days or so since I quit drinking and smoking pot. His post can be found here:
It is my hope that some of these observations might help others as they seek to get away from chaos of brain circuitry ups and downs. If you think you might have an alcohol (or any other drug addiction) I encourage you to seek help - you don't have to fight it alone. For those of you who are unsure if you have an alcohol/drug problem, just try it and see if you can go 90 days without it. It's hard enough quitting porn, just wait till you try to quit those other things you might feel you will have "no problem" quitting. I wish good luck and wellness for all of you who accept the challenge, you will without a doubt learn something, no matter what else happens.
I am glad you focus on the issue of alcohol (which we might as well add in drugs too). I recently decided that I wanted to quit drinking and especially smoking pot (something I love to do). While I've been on this healthy kick for several months it just seemed the next right thing to do. What I discovered was that I simply couldn't do it on my own and pot and booze were things I thought I would never get addicted to. (Sound familiar?) Just like with porn it's the kind of addiction that is socially acceptable to a large group of people and comes with a certain kind of "coolness" packaging (which we all know is bullshit anyhow, but it's very seductive.) I think this description applies to booze, pot and also PMO.
Since I realized I couldn't do it alone I decided to seek help. I know now that I had a problem precisely because of how difficult it is to "stay quit." It has been really difficult at times not giving in and drinking or smoking pot, still haven't given in as of this writing, and I am sure the only reason I haven't is because I had the help of other people who have also struggled with these issues and not because of how smart I was.
No one can answer the question of "is alcohol/drugs a problem for you" except you. The best test, in my opinion is to try to go dry for 90 days and see if you can do it alone and monitor the effects it has on your moods, routines, wallet - everything, just like a "reboot" from PMO. Even if you can go that long without significant pain, anxiety or mental suffering, it doesn't mean that it couldn't be problem for you now or in the future, but it's a pretty good test to observe how your brain reacts to not having these things (either booze or some other drug) around. Recently I had the same realization I had years ago in relation to porn, so I warn you from the outset, pot and booze are no better for me than porn was, in some ways they were worse.
I believe there are many of us who are "multiply addicted" and just like to get outside ourselves no matter if it's sex, drugs or alcohol. As long as we don't have to just sit and feel how we feel - we like it, enough to forgo food, sometimes shelter and showers, love or sex with a real person in order to have it at the quantity we like to have it. It's the exact same reward circuitry behind all this stuff so it makes sense that if we struggle with one we might struggle with another.
I really identified with this in your post:
"(W)e need to divert that ability towards more creative and helpful activities that add more value to our lives."
The question I had to ask myself: was continued drinking and smoking marijuana a "creative and helpful activity that add(ed) more value to (my) life." The truth is, if I am being honest...it was the direct opposite. Just like PMO/MOP it held me back in so many ways, from relationships to self esteem, to simple things like, I don't know, having extra money to spend, cleaning my room, and more existential things like actually accomplishing goals that weren't about satisfying immediate needs but were about fulfilling long term ambitions that always got put off in favor of a puff of weed or a really tasty ale or as we already agree, the hours or days long hunt for the perfect porn image that would inevitably end in an empty, loveless orgasm.
So now I see with different eyes on this St. Patrick's day. I'm a young 35 year old man of Scottish and Irish heritage who comes from a long line of alcoholics on both sides. My family history is stacked against me and my personal history is stacked against me. The crazy thing is that I'm not drinking now, because if any reasonable person knew my background and story they would assume I would go on drinking until I succumb to some ailment or another.
This is not intended to be a sermon (what can I say, that's in my history too!) just that it is a very good question indeed that you ask about this alcohol/drug issue and it's connection to PMO/MOP. Many, many times I have come home drunk from the bars feeling worthless because I had some vain, drunken hope of meeting a woman only to find myself staring at the computer screen and jerking off yet again. Or worse, be too drunk to bother to turn on the computer and thus be forced treat my body in such a rough manner that it would hurt the next day.
Without porn it was always more difficult to orgasm, drunk or sober, relationship or no relationship. That's my experience. It also happened to me more than once in my year or so of PMO relapses that alcohol/pot use would precipitate a relapse. One part of my reward circuitry was saying to the other "Well now I'm feeling pretty fine but I could feel much finer and it's only a few clicks away all I have to do is just start counting over again and no harm done," and other such nonsense that my smart brain cooks up for me to be right back at square one with my addiction.
In conclusion (and sorry for such a long ranting post), I contend we aren't that smart at all. I think it's our very intellect that is an enormous handicap in this addiction. We are the types that read the rulebook and start quoting chapter and verse to ourselves how we've done it right ... yet it doesn't seem to work somehow. We are the types that can see connections that sometimes others can't see and would like to think we can figure things out for ourselves. Thing is all this is true *except* when it comes to addictions. We have a *blind spot* to our own capacity to do harm to ourselves, even if we are actively attempting to quit those behaviors.
In my experience, the only way to counteract this tendency to forget so *easily* how terrible we felt a few mornings ago after our last binge, is to share our feelings and really get to know others who will help us in the process of being fully honest and accountable. Only by working with other people can I feel some relief and it really is a relief as you pointed out so eloquently. That's one reason I keep coming back to this website because I need to interact with people who are doing this "no PMO - eventually Karezza" thing. I *need to read* your stories and struggles and help where I can, or else I myself am at risk and in so doing I may get to see 9 or so months of no PMO (for me MOP lol.)
Thanks for reading, if you have gotten this far. I will probably repost this to my blog for easy retrieval in the future...because as far as I have come I never forget how well-nigh impossible it is for me to take my own advice!