The statistics are staggering. Nine out of 10 boys and six out of 10 girls are exposed to porn before the age of 18. The first exposure to porn for men is 12 years old, on average. Sixty-eight percent of young adult men watch porn at least once a week.

The list goes on and on. Porn is ravaging our culture. And the accessibility of it is beyond scary.

Porn stats are thrown around so often we are tempted to become desensitized to them. But I want to push back. As a man who struggled with porn for much of my teenage and young adult years, I know the damage porn addiction leaves behind.

I also know the lies porn wants you to believe:

If I View Porn ‘Every Now and Then,’ It’s not a Problem

At work here is the destructive force of comparison. If you view porn for any reason, you have a problem that needs to be addressed. Your frequency of use might determine your method of treatment, but ultimately, porn is addictive. And all addiction prevents you from becoming the man or woman God created you to be. It prevents you from engaging fully in relationships. And over time, an addiction to porn builds a wall around your heart.

Porn Won’t Affect How I See Other People

The lie in play here is compartmentalization. In other words, you think viewing porn is one area of your life, work is another, relationships are yet another, and so on. But this isn’t how the brain works. When you view porn, people become objects to lust after instead of image-bearers to be loved.

For much of my life, I believed lust was natural. Porn had infiltrated my thought pattern to the point where it was impossible for me to see women as anything other than objects. Now that I am on the other side, I realize porn coerced me to believe a lie.

I Can Fight Porn Addiction on My Own

For years, I thought I could will my way out of my porn addiction. But trying to fight porn addiction alone is like trying to get out of quicksand alone. More effort usually makes things worse.

As you try harder to defeat your addiction, you inevitably experience a let-down. The more you experience let-downs, the more you blame yourself. This creates shame. Shame pulls you away from God. And the cycle continues until you are completely broken and hopeless.

This was my experience, at least. I wasn’t able to overcome until I agreed to see a counselor and allow other people to walk with me.

God created you to live in community. Even if the initial stages of telling others is hard, having a community walk with you might be the step you need to take to overcome your addiction.

If I Tell Someone About My Addiction, My Life Will Be Ruined

Even though I was struggling, I was so concerned my admission would ruin my reputation, my friendships and my life, I chose silence instead.

Life as you know it might not ever be the same if you choose to let others know. I believe strongly, however, that remaining in an addiction is not a better trade.

Secrecy and isolation give power to addictions and hidden sins. But once light shines on your addiction, the power Satan has over you is decreased significantly. Darkness can’t remain where light is present.

Porn and Sex are the Same

Porn is fantasy. It’s a facade. And it destroys the gift of sex God has given two people who enter into the covenant bond of marriage. God created sex to be an expression of love. Porn is solely an expression of lust. God created sex to be physical, spiritual and emotional. Porn is strictly physical.

Porn removes the divine and mysterious from sex. This explains why so many people are unsatisfied, jumping from partner to partner. As long as sex is primarily physical, the fullness of it will never be experienced.

Porn Won’t Affect My Brain or Quality of Living

There is a fascinating, yet sobering, TED talk by Gary Wilson called “The Great Porn Experiment.” In this video, Wilson details the devastating effects porn has on the brain. Research shows ADHD, OCD, social anxiety and depression are all by-products of viewing porn. Porn also numbs your ability to feel true intimacy. And the longer your brain is exposed to porn, the more hyperactive it becomes at the sight of porn.

In other words, the more you view porn, the more your brain desires it. It is a vicious cycle that ultimately erodes your willpower and self-control.

I Will Never Overcome My Porn Addiction

Here’s the reality about porn addiction: You can overcome. No addiction is too much for God. No stronghold is beyond His ability to destroy.

You must, however, start by taking responsibility for your situation. Alcoholics Anonymous has nailed this. Tens of thousands of former alcoholics are now free from the grip of addiction because they decided to take responsibility for their actions.

Once you take responsibility, you must believe you can overcome. God has given you the power to control your thoughts (Proverbs 23:7). As Dr. Caroline Leaf says in her book Switch On Your Brain, good thinking leads to good choices, which lead to healthy thoughts.

Whether you have been addicted to porn for 10 months or 10 years, you can overcome. Trust God. Shine light on your addiction. Get the help you need. Don’t look for an easy way out, because there isn’t one. Never lose hope.

My Porn Addiction Defines Me

One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is to make you think your addiction affects God’s love for you. But long before you existed, God knew you were going to struggle with this addiction. And He sent Jesus to the cross anyway.

Your actions don’t determine your identity. As you make the decision to fight your addiction, stand firm in God’s unfailing love. A love that sees my wickedness and your wickedness and still longs for a relationship with both of us.

The only way to experience freedom is to run to the cross. Allow the grace of God to be your strength. Let the Spirit of God be your guide. Trust the work of Christ to be your identity.

This article was originally posted on frankpowell.me. Used here with permission.