18 Principles of Recovery

Phineas 808

Staff member
In a couple of days, I'll be 140 days into my own recovery effort, without P, PMO, or MO.

What tips can I offer others to help them be more sucessful in their journey?

18 Principles of Recovery

1. Make recovery your number one priority in life.

Porn addiction, and its surrounding behaviors (P, PMO, or MO) are highly addictive, likened to cocain addiction.

We cannot play around with it. We cannot expect to come out of this unless we make quitting our number one goal!

Recognize any compromises on complete purity as undermining this first principle.

Recognize that p-subs and edging also undermine your goals and efforts.

Recognize that white-knuckling (dry-drunk) may show that this is not yet your number one priority.

99% is a bitch, 100% is a breeze!

2. Approach social media, and electronics with vigilance, but without over restriction.

Identify what trips you up: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, computer or cell phone, T.V., movies, music (audio)?

Know your enemy, know yourself. But don't be legalistic or overly restrictive. The problem isn't an outside force controlling you, but all from within, and under your power.

Don't set yourself up for failure, but then don't disempower yourself by placing all the blame on external things.

Social media = in-and-out, unless purposeful, mindful.

3. Envision yourself as your new identity, not the past addicted self.

Are you an addict? Are you a porn-user? We may have an addiction, but we are not that. This isn't like in AA or NA, where once an addict always an addict, even though you've not used in years!

We want to avoid recoveryism as from disease-models of addiction (12-Step).

See yourself as recovered, or recovering. Have an end-goal in mind, who you will be without this habit. See yourself as clean, see yourself as free. Imagine the life you will have without these unwanted behaviors. Visualize yourself before sleep as this brand new person with all good habits.

Begin to say, I do not use pornography, masturbate, or lust.

Note: if 12-step recovery helps you, I'm not knocking it!

4. Don't think about it.

Attention reveals intention. Even if you're thinking about "your recovery", you're still thinking about your unwanted habits. Once you set your intentions (daily), pay it no mind.

This doesn't contradict the first principle of making our recovery priority #1, as not thinking about it will be easier when it is our priority.

Set it and forget it. The 'Porn is not an option' mindset.

5. Learn the secret of AVRT.

AVRT = Addictive Voice Recognition Technique.

We have to recognize that our addiction is coming from the limbic system of our brain (the 'beast-brain'), and screams for instinctual survival, but is mistaken that these behaviors are so 'life-or-death'. Our prefrontal cortex is where the rational mind and executive decision making occurs. This is where we have veto power to cancel any urges from the beast-brain.

The addictive voice (AV) is any urge, thought, rationalization toward the future use of P, PMO, or MO. It comes from the beast-brain, and can be outlasted and overridden by the rational mind. You can outlast any urge.

This technique had been key in my own successes.

6. Dismiss urges through mindfulness.

When urges come, be aware of them as an outside observer, nonjudgmentally. Be aware of your pulse, your heart-rate, if breathing is shallow, and when this calms down. Focus on deep breathing, until the urge passes. Repeat the above for any returning urges.

The sine qua non of habit change!

7. Change the habits that surround your habits.

Often we're repeating our unwanted habits, and can't seem to get a lengthy streak. What can we do?

Hack into your addiction, disrupt or alter the habits that surround the habit in order to change them.

Leave your phone in another room. Make the T.V. face the wall. Change the time you shower, or its temperature. Change your screensaver to represent your intent to quit. Even if acting on your impulses, set a 3 minute alarm to disrupt it.

Repetition built your chains, and repetition will break them.

8. Know when urges are from a deeper emotional need.

Sometimes we're cued toward a habitual response, and we can dismiss it easily enough. Other times, the cue is from a deeper emotional need. Can we assess this about ourselves?

If we determine that the urges are coming from a deeper drive, spiritual or emotional, what can we do? If you're spiritual, you can pray and/or meditate, or reach out and connect with loved ones.

9. Use spouse to offset strong urges.

There is no wrong or harm done if when undergoing strong urges, in turning to your wife and working it out with her. Don't fear 'chaser effect', as you're rewiring toward 'real-world' sex.

What if this is not possible? MO, if done without p-fantasy, if it doesn't lead to P, can be sparingly used.

Deal with 'chaser-effect' urges as prescribed above, mindfully.

10. Discover the space between cue and response.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

~ Viktor E. Frankl

Because of this fact, you should overcome this thing without porn-filters, porn-blockers, without support groups, accountability partners, or other disempowering approaches.

Taking back our power from the addiction is in that space between cue and response, and not in avoidance or being overly restrictive.

11. Admiring beauty is not lust.

If a woman is beautiful, acknowledge it. It's okay. Then, don't dwell on it. Don't obsess over it. You're in control now, not a dog trying to sniff other dogs! Determine if your drive to lust in public is anxiety, or from a deeper emotional need.

12. Increase resilience and endurance.

Some take cold showers, others wait before opening an app they have notifications on. Intermitent fasting, too, helps to train ourselves.

Find different ways to delay the reward.

This helps to build endurance for when it counts in the moment when urges arise, we can make better choices in dismissing them.

13. Set goals that work for you.

Setting a lengthy goal is admirable, even desirable, 90 days, 120 days, a year... But the goal can seem insurmountable, or unrealistic to us. Keep the lengthy goal, but break it up into bite-size mini-goals. An example, my goals have been 120, 90 days divided up into 15 sets of 8-day goals, or 9 sets of 10 day goals.

Again, shorter goals are an alternative if they help you.

In this vein, know what is a reset for you. What are your red-line behaviors? Don't compromise on this, and you'll have a better uncompromising reboot/recovery.

14. Reinforce and refocus motivation and resolve.

Can you look yourself in the eye? Can you grab yourself by the throat? Can you have a dead-dog determination?

(I'm not talking about being too hard on yourself, or not being self-compassionate! But self-accountable.)

Are you a serial-relapser? This question is only intended to snap yourself out of falling into unwanted patterns of recoverism.

Again, if unable to reach a lengthy streak, evaluate your plan, and/or level of commitment.

That's what it's going to take to break this habit, and this has to be consistently maintained. If you see yourself compromising (p-subs, edging), refocus.

Some write out lists of benefits in quitting, and the consequences of failure.

15. Give and receive support.

Don't be affraid to reach out to others in their journals and offer support. Even if your own efforts aren't perfect, you never know who may need the encouragement.

If you're struggling, and others offer support- learn to accept it from the place it's given. Some have strong personalities, or are having success, and so come off a little sharp. Instead of rejecting their help, maybe their strong words can help motivate you?

But if it's ugly feeling, like they're a jerk, you can always block them. Your approach is all your own, your method will be different from others, and we're all here to support each other.

Our unwanted behaviors make us so narcissistic, that it does us good to help others besides ourselves.

16. How to bounce back quickly after a lapse or slip:

Seeing the cause of a lapse as all from within yourself. Don't blame it on outside circumstances, triggers, or stress. The sooner you see this, the sooner you'll bounce back, and the less times you'll lapse.

Taking responsibility is part of taking back power!

17. Change the meaning porn has for you.

What is it in porn, masturbation or lust that draws us back, other than the habit? Do we see it as meeting some deeper need or issue? See P, PMO, and MO for what it is, fantasy! All it can offer is a few moments of pleasure, followed by years of regret, a failed marriage, and a limp noodle.

18. Change your habits now, emotional healing is separate and can come later.

You don't have to first resolve what happened to your five year old self, or untangle the subconscious. You can find freedom now. We worked ourselves into this habit or addiction by each little decision, and now we have to walk back out in the same way, one decision at a time.

We do this by changing our habits, and when those are no longer compelling us, we can work on the other issues.
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Phineas 808

Staff member
I changed this principle:

7. Reframe 'triggers' as cues.

The concept of 'triggers' is disempowering. It gives too much power to outside circumstances, emotional states, or past trauma.

Cues are different, as being outside stimuli that simply remind us of our habit. They're like ringing a bell, and Pavlov's dog drooling as a result. This is natural, and the urges have no power to make you do anything. You are always in control, not the habit, when we realize this.

Taking back our power is through recognizing this!

To say instead....

7. Change the habits that surround your habits.

I can only fit 10,000 characters per post... :oops:
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Well-Known Member
I appreciate the effort you've gone to in curating this list, Phineas. I know that a lot of thought has gone into it, and continues to go into it. Lots that I can learn from it and hope to hold onto. Thank you.

Phineas 808

Staff member
Fantastic post. I'm going to re-read this a few times. I need to get focused again.

Thank you, Guitar! Yes, that's the beauty of each new day is that we get to focus and re-focus, and find our mindful self even if we've struggled or lapsed previously.

Wishing you well.


Active Member
Wow, this is so good and agree with so much (I'm at Day 110-ish) !
Training your resilience/endurance is such an important point and I think another great possibility to do that is doing sport and meditation!
That goes hand in hand with changing your habits. And also I think social media, netflix etc (or being lazy in general) is weakening your resilience and your willpower, or to speak scientifically, it will strengthen your limbic system and weaken your prefrontal cortex. This so important to understand: when you ask yourself, why others can resist their urges and you can't, I think this is a very big part of the answer.

If you want to get rid of an addiction you have to change your whole life and your mindset, it is not only about just not doing the thing you're addicted to! I saw that when I quit alcohol and drugs, when quitting smoking and now porn.

Also important is changing your way you see things: You really have to connect porn with negative emotions, so you really don't want to get back to it. Begin to hate this shit, that is destroying so many lives, be it the women in the industry or the men who get addicted.

That seems to be very important in the first few weeks, to build up that internal resistance against porm, so you won't fall back right after your first motivation wears off, smth that happens to many.

One thing that doesn't work for me and is not helpful, even though it is great when it helps others, is the idea with the small goals.
I don't really understand it: Why this obsession with days and counters? When you set your goal to -lets say - 30 days, how will you get porn out of your mind, when you are basically saying "after 30 days it is okay again"? I don't understand that. For me my goal was from the beginning to stop forever. I am porn free and that's how I want my new self to be, not for a short period of time, but forever. That doesnt mean that a relapse would destroy everything, on the contrary. I often see people relapsing and they are like " now I'm back at 0", because they only see the counter.
I quit smoking 5 years ago. I smoked so many cigarettes since then, I even relapsed for a few weeks last year thanks to covid and an injury, but I don't stress over my day counter or that I 'm back at square one etc.
The difference to porn is, that I think it is okay when I smoke from time to time, a porn relapse wouldn't be okay for me, but the point is, that it can be damaging, when you are so obsessed with abstinence, that you think everything is lost, when you make a false step and then go just down the hole instead of standing up again. And a day counter/goal can contribute to that in my eyes.

Phineas 808

Staff member
Thank you, Canguro! You make several important points above.

To count or not to count... This has been something I've struggled with throughout my recovery, and counting has helped me and counted (ha!) against me.

For me, counting gives me a realistic measure as to whether or not I'm practically quitting. Because these behaviors for me were so ingrained and habituated, I had to challenge myself X-amount of days in order to quit. It was goal setting which also built confidence. This addiction has robbed us of our power and resolve to where we don't see anything through.

Mini-goals helped me to acheive larger goals that were at one time beyond my reach.

I, however, prefer to be in a place where I'm not counting days, and that has been a reward in itself. But I check back just to see how far I've come. I know counting doesn't make sense if you're not going to go back anyway, but when that kind of decision is beyond our ability to perform (as will-power alone is typically insufficient), setting goals makes more sense.

Resetting to 0 is a challenge, especially with black-and-white thinking, or all-or-nothing approaches to recovery. One thing I keep in mind is that if I had to reset, I keep the bigger picture in mind, and that it's not really at 0, as the entirety of your days at recovery are what counts.


Well-Known Member
Resetting to 0 is a challenge, especially with black-and-white thinking, or all-or-nothing approaches to recovery. One thing I keep in mind is that if I had to reset, I keep the bigger picture in mind, and that it's not really at 0, as the entirety of your days at recovery are what counts.
This is something that has been hard for me to resolve. I can't look back over the last 6 months and throw it all away. It was 6 months of being very strong and staying away from porn longer than I ever have. That in itself has to count for something. But I think we just get so frustrated with "failing" that we feel like punishing ourselves. That might be worse in the long run. I've been there before. No porn for a week or two and then relapse and we say screw it, I already failed, might as well just realize this is my life. This time I'm trying not fall into that trap. I had a great streak and I'm just right back at working it. Not going to lose my mind here. It was two rough days out of 180 days. Let me see how far I can get next. Maybe it's 30 days, maybe it's 20, maybe it's more, but I have to keep focusing and keep moving forward.

This is all a tricky thing to figure out. I may be trying mini goals now as well. I think the goals were helping at least a little. I have a lot of thinking and reflecting to do. I'm know for sure that I'm not done this time. I may not be done failing once in a while, but I'm not just giving up.

Keep up the great posts. Always more to think about.

Phineas 808

Staff member
Keep up the great posts. Always more to think about.

Definitely, Guitar!

You will find your footing, and it sounds like you have a good approach that is hopeful in seeing the bigger picture (180 days), and yet one that is cautious or 'realistic' seeing that maybe one is yet susceptible to lapsing, as it were.

You know how you feel now, and you know where you've come from. You will find what works best for you toward your recovery efforts. And above all, you will be compassionate and understanding toward yourself as you work all this out.

Standing with you!


Active Member
This is one of those post just like williams to be read by many and put on top visible for new and old visitors if you ask me. Well done Phineas thank you for this!
Great post!! I do have to say each of us is unique, my biggest road block is still my emotional healing, the porn was easy to drop. I have struggled to keep a healthy relationship with my wife. This is my area of focus now, and the main part of me that led to porn.