Dear Rabbi Twerski,
My wife found out I was viewing inappropriate pictures,and she was very offended, and rightfully so. It almost ruined our marriage! However, since she found out and I admitted everything to her, literally everything, she suggested I should get help. She thinks I have an addiction. She could be right, I am not sure. I think I’m a normal guy and have the same challenges as other guys. I don’t know how to classify an addiction. Do I need professional help with counseling and group therapy? Or am I just a normal guy with a big yetzer hara?
Rabbi Twerski Responds
There are probably a number of ways to define addiction. If you have a desire to do something, and know you shouldn’t be doing it but go on to do it anyway, that indicates a loss of control. When this is repetitive, it justifies being considered an addiction.
OCD people may feel compelled to do things, but these are generally not things that are wrong. For example, repeated hand-washing, repeating words in davening, and so on. OCD often responds well to medication, addiction does not.
You should accept that you do not have control over your com- pulsive acting out and therefore avail yourself of sources of help.
In a talk, Rabbi Twerski answers a similar question.
First of all, what is the definition of addiction? I don’t think we have a good definition of an addict. I think if a person knows that what he’s doing is wrong, harmful, destructive, whatever, and he tries to stop doing it, and he makes a sincere effort to stop doing it, and finds that he cannot do it, I think he can call himself an addict.
[A person can call himself an addict] if he comes to the reali- zation, “Here’s something that I know I shouldn’t be doing, and I know it’s destructive. I’m trying to stop it, I’ve tried to stop eleven times, or a hundred times, but I haven’t been able to. I need someone’s help so I’ll be able to stop.”