If you’re like I was then you’re probably racking your brain trying to figure out just how long it is going to take to overcome addiction. You might be asking yourself questions like, “How long does it take before my desires change?”, “When does this start to get easier?”, or “Why do I feel like I’m not changing?” These are great questions you should be asking and there is an answer for each individual. I got so frustrated and frankly, quite angry, trying to figure out the answers to these same question as I worked so hard to overcome addiction.
The answers I sought and you currently seek are different for everyone. They depend on your ability to persevere through difficulties and mistakes, your faith in yourself, your faith in the process, and how much work you’re willing to put into the process. So, that being said, it could be a matter of weeks, months, or years. It all depends on you. It’s definitely not a matter of just a week or two. That’s unrealistic. Though I must admit I was guilty of expecting change in a week or two, to my detriment.
In order to keep going in the process of change you will have to accept that you will not be perfect. It is very dangerous to expect you will make no mistakes. I’m not saying use this as an excuse to make mistakes. I’m saying have realistic expectations. One realistic expectation is to expect that the mistakes will become fewer in proportion to the amount of effort you put into the process of change. If you have a problem with porn addiction and you look at it every day then you can expect that it will not be every day as you make the necessary choices to adjust your environment and follow the steps to become stronger.
Remember, the body is too stubborn to change in just a week. You cannot expect to stop liking or desiring porn in a week or two. You have to have consistent success over a long period of time for your desires to change significantly. Also, you can’t expect to like new habits at the start. If you just started exercising then it will probably take some time before you enjoy doing it. I felt this way about running. I hated it but over time learned to love it. So you see it takes a lot of work initially to change since you and your body will not like the changes at first. I will tell you that change will become a lot easier after being completely clean for about a month. After that, it gets easier and easier.
Believe in the Process
It can be a tough thing to convince yourself to keep going when you’re not seeing results. I know I would get so frustrated after only a week or two of staying clean because I would still feel really strong urges to go look at pornography or to misuse my body. I would angry at how I didn’t see my desires change much in that short time. I would get so frustrated when I would see a beautiful woman and my body would get so aroused. Instead of being patient and allowing more time for my body to balance itself out, I would obsess about the lack of change until those thoughts had control of me and I would make a mistakes again.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
So believing in the process is a must. Going for a week or two and getting frustrated until you quit is not defined as believing. Believing means you keep going every single day knowing that you will change in due time. It may be one month, two months, a year. Whatever it is you just continue to believe change is coming because it is. Most people give up not knowing how close they were to complete change.
Believing in Yourself
We have all had doubts in ourselves at times on our lives. Thats ok as long as you know how to move on from those doubts. Its when doubts become a habit that failure becomes a habit. We not only have to believe that the process of change works so long as we put in the effort and time, but we must also believe that we can absolutely do whatever is required in the process of change. You have to have faith in yourself otherwise you’re right, you can’t escape addiction and can’t do anything for that matter. Addiction can cause us to stop believing we can do things. Its like being a prisoner of war, eventually you start to believe you cannot escape and stop trying to escape. That’s when the enemy called addiction has you right where it wants you, feeling helpless. You have to stand up and believe in yourself. Believe you have the power to make decisions that will ultimately bring freedom in your life.
There is no one who can make you have faith in yourself or the process of change. That is a decision you must make. People can encourage you but they cannot give it to you. On a religious note I will say that developing faith in God helped me to develop faith in myself. I still had to make the decision but my religion certainly made that easier.
Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)
Anybody who gets addicted to anything has to go through a withdrawal stage. There is no way around it, you have to go through it. It can last anywhere from a month to 18 months depending on many things. This is called Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms or PAWS. In other words, you will fell lethargic, bored with life, irritable, unable to concentrate or remember things. However, the amount of time these things last and the intensity can be lessened with proper diet, exercise, therapy to deal with underlying issues, and even supplements to help your chemical imbalance get back in balance.