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Porn Addiction Coach reveals the problem has ‘nothing to do with sex’ as he helps struggling men navigate dependency in lockdown

Chris Sweeney
Chris Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and the Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and the Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

Porn Addiction Coach reveals the problem has ‘nothing to do with sex’ as he helps struggling men navigate dependency in lockdown
The digital revolution and social media explosion have allowed the addiction to flourish. RT spoke to Tim Reigle who is helping thousands of men all over the globe break their erotic compulsions and regain control of their lives.

The Covid-19 pandemic has birthed many externalities, but one that’s flown under the radar is the explosion in men succumbing to porn. Despite pornography’s ubiquity, it’s still a taboo subject and provokes either raised eyebrows or quiet sniggers, but, like any addiction, it is no laughing matter and can ultimately end in suicide.

Trying to prevent that is Porn Addiction Coach Tim Reigle, and his summation of the condition is surprising. “Porn addiction has nothing to do with sex, it’s to do with how we cope with pain and emotions that we can’t handle – it’s an escape.”

Tim, 34, is from Pennsylvania and knows what he’s talking about. He became hooked on porn as a teenager and struggled to deal with it all the way through his adult life. It culminated in him having multiple affairs, nearly destroying his marriage and his relationship with kids.

“It led to a lot of depression which just continued the cycle. I got caught a few times by my wife and others but each time like any good liar, I got better at not getting caught. My wife and I separated for a while but when I got caught by my two best friends and they disowned me, that was a wake-up call. I had to look in the mirror,” he said.

That happened almost four years ago and he vowed to use his experiences to help others. Part of that is his free ebook Power Over Porn, which takes addicts through a 10-step process. However, the bigger part of his role is to help sufferers one-on-one, some who may be masturbating five times a day.

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“We use porn to self-medicate or to avoid our problems altogether. It could be physical and sexual abuse or major emotional trauma like the death of a parent. For me it was more subliminal like constantly feeling I had to live up to a constant standard. I couldn’t have asked for better parents, but I always felt I was Pastor Reigle’s son, I wasn’t Tim. I was fighting for my own identity and constantly felt I was never good enough. I also had some cases with girls where I received major rejection and I eroticized that. With porn, they never reject you, you are never not good enough, I created an alter-ego,” Tim said.

The guys Tim coaches stretch across all ages, with his oldest client in his 60s. And he’s noticed a rapid rise in referrals due to the lockdown. “I have seen a spike through the pandemic mainly because it exacerbated the scenarios to look at porn. There’s anxiety about losing their jobs or getting the virus and isolation is one of the biggest things that leads to it. I encourage them to get outside, get that Vitamin D and stay social even if it’s on Zoom. Staying stagnant just makes it worse.”

Unsurprisingly, the major catalyst in the rise of porn addiction has been the internet. The need to search for pornography has disappeared and high-definition videos of ever more extreme content can be beamed into any home at the click of a mouse.

“It’s probably existed all of mankind and even 30 years ago you had to go behind the creepy curtain at a video rental store. When I was a kid, you had to put some effort in and get on the computer late at night, whereas now with smartphones, it’s anytime, any place, anywhere. The guys get hooked on the dopamine release in the brain from porn.”

Other addictions become obvious to others. An alcoholic or drug addict begins to show physical signs, they may lose weight and their skin can become grey. But porn doesn’t manifest like that and is easy to obtain, plus it’s largely free thanks to major websites like Pornhub.

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“An issue is there is no age verification for viewing or uploading. There is no proof these girls are 18 or they did it consensually. The websites hold a lot of blame but on the other hand they are just capitalizing on demand. You can try to ban them, but it won’t stop the addiction. For 50 years, there’s been a battle of how terrible cigarettes are but millions of people still smoke. Stopping the production won’t stop the addiction, we need to stop the demand,” Tim said.

While Tim only treats men, he gets correspondence from women who want advice on how to help the men in their lives. A common issue that troubles them is that their husband or boyfriend’s focus on porn is a result of their interest in them.

Tim countered: “One of the things that’s hard to understand for women is that it’s not about them, the guys aren’t getting something from porn they aren’t from their wife, as it’s not a sexual issue. It’s an emotional issue dealing with pain. When I was addicted, I had a healthy sex life with my wife, it was nothing to do with that. I can understand why women may think it’s an attack on them but it’s not the woman’s fault or because she’s not pretty enough.”

It remains a delicate issue and is still deemed embarrassing by some, so very few men admit they have a problem publicly. But Tim’s coaching and recovery process doesn’t work until that threshold is breached. “The hard part is reaching out to me; once they do that, they open up, but it can take a while to peel back the layers and find the root problem. Men so often put up this wall and don’t let anyone in, but you need to let people in to find the healing. They have to be ready to change and have hit rock bottom.”

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Part of beating the addiction is similar to the way alcoholics overcome theirs using AA. It involves getting an accountability partner, keeping a journal, establishing a daily routine, and doing exercise to tackle the mental and physical aspects. Tim’s approach is based on common sense and makes sure the addicts know they don’t have to suffer alone. “They just need somebody to listen, to be there for them. A lot of guys are looking for love and someone to care for them, they want intimacy and think they get that from sex. So they are constantly looking for it through porn when all they really need is a friend – that’s what I try to do. I’m not a doctor or a therapist, I’m a guy who’s been through it and can relate to them. I support and encourage – and they uplift me too, it helps me to stay sober in my own battle.”

Mild mannered, balanced and reasonable as Tim appears in most aspects of his life, he now has a zero-tolerance policy for porn. “My opinion is there is no normal or healthy level of watching porn. Some guys may not struggle with it, but I’d ask, what’s the benefit? We are constantly bombarded with sexual imagery, commercials, social media, it’s everywhere. Porn is also encouraged as a good and healthy thing with the whole sex-positive movement. People think it’s good for young boys to watch porn but it leads to depression and causes physical problems like erectile dysfunction. It’s devastating but society looks at it like there’s nothing wrong. I tell the guys to plan their relapse, if something were to happen and they fell off the wagon, how would that happen? And make adjustments to avoid that.”

Despite a growing number of clients and a greater appreciation of the issue, Tim still finds it surreal that striving to eradicate porn addiction has become his vocation. While he has strong religious beliefs, there is no faith-based approach to his work. “This is not something I expected to be doing, but in my eyes the Lord has worked through me. I want to use the redemption I’ve found to help other guys.”

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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