Guard Your Eyes

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Struggling With A Serious Addiction

See here for Rabbi Twerski's answers to some important questions about the 12 Step Groups.

In our Feature Story, the writer describes how he hit bottom with his addiction, and finally took up the courage to write to Rabbi Avraham Twerski . In his letter, he asked if there was anything he could do to break free. Here are some excerpts from that story...

Broken, threatened with divorce and yet not believing I could ever stop, I had finally "hit bottom". I wrote to the renowned religious psychiatrist, Rabbi Avraham Twersky, the author of many books and a leader in dealing with alcoholic addictions, and I asked him if there was anything I could do to break free. Here is what he answered:


"Your case is not unusual. I say this because I can tell you what works and what does not work. Sexual compulsions come in a variety of ways, but the common denominator is that the person has a compulsion which he finds it very difficult to resist. He tries all kinds of ways (like you did) but nothing works, including marriage. This kind of compulsion is essentially an addiction. The only thing that works, in my experience, is participation in a 12-step recovery program similar to that of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is called either Sexaholic Anonymous or Sex & Love Anonymous. They have meetings everywhere, including Israel. You should be able to locate a meeting via the internet.


There are many excuses for not attending meetings. What happens if someone sees me? The bottom line is, if a person wishes to be cured from cancer, he'll do anything. If one wishes to overcome a destructive sexual addiction, nothing should stand in the way. There are two important books to read. (1) Sex and Love Addiction (SLAA) Anonymous and (2) Cybersex Unhooked. Both are available at Get these books and you'll find out what it takes to free yourself of this problem. Psychotherapy is the frosting on the cake, but the 12 step program is the cake. When you attend SLAA meetings, you may be able to find the name of a competent therapist. Many psychiatrists and psychologists have not been trained in addiction.


The particular type of sexual compulsion does not make much difference. A beer drinker can be as alcoholic as a whiskey drinker. The core problem is the inability to restrain oneself from doing something that one knows he should not be doing but appears powerless to control it. A number of religious people have been able to do with the 12 step program what they were not able to do with mussar (religious ethical texts). Perhaps this is because of the group support. We may learn mussar together, but we don't practice it together, which is what happens in a 12 step meeting. Read the books. There is a book "12 steps and 12 traditions" which describes the 12 steps. It's worth reading. Although it was written about alcoholism, one just substitutes the particular compulsion in place of "alcohol."

A. Twerski"


Rabbi Twerski's answer made me realize for the first time that I was dealing with a serious addiction. I bought the books he suggested and began to learn about conquering addictions....

As far as going to these groups being a possible chillul Hashem for a frum person, Rabbi Twerski responds:

"One person's secret is also the other person's secret. People at the meetings. being aware of the compulsive nature of the problem do not consider it a chilul hashem.

My contact for the frum person is a very chassidish man (shtreimel and white stockings) who has good recovery. If you wish I can put you in touch with him.


(We skip to further on in the story...)


...Today, I am happy to say that I have been free from the pornography addiction and masturbation for more than three years. About two years after breaking free, when my wife was about to give birth, I became afraid again. I knew I would have to be "cold turkey" for about 6 weeks and I had never attempted total abstinence for more than two weeks (during the periods that my wife was periodically not available to me for halachic reasons). So I gathered the courage and wrote again to Rabbi Twersky again asking him for advice on how I would possibly manage! Here was his answer:

"At one time, it seemed like 2 hours was impossible. You progressed so that two weeks abstinence is possible (when your wife isn't available). Continue the methods you are using, but instead of thinking 6 weeks, think, "Just today I have to control," and that is feasible. You can't do anything today about what is going to be tomorrow, so don't take it on. In SLA they tell you that the only success is by taking just one day at a time.

Hatzlacha.     Twerski"


To my own amazement, I made it through the 6 weeks! Obviously, I was extra careful to guard my eyes during that time, and it really helped a lot. This major test did a lot to prove to me that I was truly free from my insidious addiction. Today, I have learned to guard my eyes where ever I go. I have learned to give up these crazy desires to G-d. I feel so free today, compared to the obsessed and compulsive person I used to  be.