Jacob thought he could hide his pornography addiction forever. Until it started tearing away at every part of his life.
“It started when I was eleven years old,” says Jacob, a now 46-year-old man, sitting in front of a microphone during a recording of the Project Recovery podcast. “I didn’t know I was in addiction but I soon found out that I couldn’t be without it.”
Jacob believes his descent into addiction can be traced back to a simple memory. While snooping around the family attic, looking for Christmas presents, he found multiple adult magazines.
Dr. Matt Woolley, a Clinical Psychologist for the University of Utah and co-host of the Project Recovery podcast, added that “Eleven is preadolescence but you’re in the beginnings of puberty and so boys and girls start to have these feelings and even thoughts, that they don’t quite understand.”
Dr. Woolley also believes that there’s a “strong” connection towards such adult concepts due to emotional triggers that begin to develop during adolescence.
Pornography addiction becomes detrimental to Jacob
These emotions ultimately proved to be too strong for Jacob to deny. He would begin to rely on looking at pornographic material to alleviate the anxiety and stress of daily living. He started to lean on his negative influence, even into his marriage. All the while, he kept it entirely secret and away from anyone and everyone.
As the internet began to grow more and more, Jacob’s addiction began to thrive. He no longer needed to go to a store to fuel his desire. Now, he could isolate himself from the rest of the world and just rely on the internet.
“I could isolate myself to that screen or to my phone and be able to hide it … I felt like I didn’t have a way to get away from it,” Jacob described.
Jacob is not alone when it comes to the rise in pornographic addiction. Experts say the average age of first exposure to porn is eleven and 25% of all online search engine requests are related to sex.
The sudden rise in technology countered with the lack of security measures to keep youth away from pornographic content online combines into even more troubling statistics. Dating back to 2017, Children under the age of 10 account for 22% of online porn consumption under 18.
Psychologists say the ease of access to this type of content and the lack of discussion surrounding pornography addiction creates the perfect formula for shame.
As a married adult, with a great job, Jacob began to feel that weight on his shoulders, crushing him.
Hiding the shame
“To me, I was the only one that was looking at it or seen it,” he says, truly believing no one else had the same problem or struggle. On top of the shame associated with his pornography addiction, it began to impair his sexual experiences with his wife.
“Having been exposed to so much of that right off, the expectations I had on her and our relationship and that experience of having sex was totally different from what I’ve seen,” Jacob said.
This unrealistic view of sexual experiences soon began to create a rift between Jacob and Trichelle. Jacob finally decided that he needed to talk to someone. That someone was his bishop.
As with most addicts, Jacob only told his bishop a partial account of his pornography addiction. He downplayed its seriousness, the amount of consumption, and the effects that it was having on his relationship. Again, shame had crept its way into Jacob’s life. But after talking to his bishop, Jacob got the courage to talk to his wife, Trichelle, about his addiction. Again, he minimized the amount of content he was consuming.
Time for change
“I was absolutely crushed,” Trichelle, Jacob’s wife, added.
She sat to the right of Jacob in the studio, sitting quietly and listening to her husband explain an addiction that has now eaten at their marriage for over two decades.
“I had already built an internal belief … thinking that I wasn’t good enough,” she described.
Jacob’s pornography addiction had begun to tear the two apart. Jacob never felt satisfied because of his addiction, which led Trichelle to feel like she was never good enough.
Jacob began to work more and more to try and hide his feelings. After having five kids together, the two still were struggling to get on the same page. They stopped communicating with each other and started to bottle up their feelings. Jacob and Trichelle started to break apart until Jacob hit his rock bottom.
To make matters worse, he was let go in January of this year. As he looks back now, he understands that his pornography addiction affected him professionally.
“That day, I was devastated. I’ve worked all my life to be where I was at. I put my heart and soul into it,” he said.
How pornography addiction can lead to rock bottom
He felt so alone.
Jacob tried to call Trichelle but she didn’t pick up the phone. He had decided that he had had enough.
Jacob convinced himself that he was going to end his life. He drove to his parent’s house, grabbed a gun, and drove out to the Great Salt Lake.
“If you’re looking for me you couldn’t see me and I was going to go kill myself,” he said.
As he sat there, thinking about his choices up to this point, he fell asleep — until he heard someone tapping on his window. It was a close friend who had found him in the middle of nowhere. The friend then convinced Jacob to not harm himself and to come back home to his family.
Jacob had found his rock bottom.
Turning over a new leaf
In February of this year, Jacob and Trichelle decided to seek help with the advice of a counselor. Jacob checked into Desert Solace, a pornography-based inpatient facility in St. George, and began working on himself and his addiction.
“That’s when I started becoming aware of my issues and shame,” he said.
Jacob and Trichelle now focus on being the best they can be for each other.
Jacob even offered some advice to anyone struggling with their own pornography addiction.
“First of all, I would go and get some counseling. I would get some help from a CSAT (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist),” he said. “The next would be, get the courage to come to a meeting. Whether it’s a SA (Sexaholics Anonymous) meeting or an ARP (Addiction Recovery Program) meeting, through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts and be sure to check out the ‘Project Recovery‘ page on KSLTV.com.
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