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Former porn addict helps others 'reboot' their lives

Gabriel Deem was just eight years old when he read his first porn magazine. By 10, he was watching it on cable and by the time he was 12, he was hooked online.
Gabriel Deem runs RebootNation.org, an online community to help others recover from porn addiction. (Courtesy Gabriel Deem)

Gabriel Deem was just eight years old when he read his first porn magazine. By 10, he was watching it on cable and by the time he was 12, he was hooked online.

Ten years later, he realized he was an addict and that it was destroying his life.

"I didn't even realize it was a problem until I couldn't function sexually," Deem says. "I got with a beautiful girl who I found extremely attractive [but] when I got with her, I couldn't feel anything. I couldn't get an erection."

Today Deem, now recovered, runs RebootNation.org, an online community to help others recover from porn addiction. The Texan will be in Winnipeg this month to talk about it at a conference called Generation XXX —The Pornification of Children.

With complete access to online images "you have no idea how many kids are into it," Deem says.

Nor how destructive it is, he adds. In his case, it meant a daily visit to the computer, seeking images that got more and more twisted, all to help him get aroused.

'I was just searching and finding, you know, the most shocking material I could find to give my brain … keep the same high, if you will.- Gabriel Deem

"I escalated into more extreme and shocking material," he says. "What I used to watch as a 12 year old no longer did the trick. And I was getting into really abusive and violent and just shocking porn.

"Eventually it got to the point where I wasn't even watching sexual intercourse. I was just searching and finding, you know, the most shocking material I could find to give my brain … keep the same high, if you will."

But it was the failed dates in the bedroom that finally stopped the online addiction, he says. Although ironically, it was also online where he found out what to do about it.

"I Googled 'young guy erection problem,'" he says, laughing.

That's when he found hundreds of posts by males of all ages sharing the same problem — that after years of surfing the 'net for porn, they could not get aroused by their partner.

"And that's when the light bulb went off. I thought 'oh, my gosh. That's me,'" he recalls. 

Relearn to respond to human touch

What followed was a "terrible" year of "rebooting" his brain to relearn to respond to a human touch, without online images to help him. A year later, he says, he was fully recovered. And today, three years later, he is reaching out to high school kids and their parents to spread the word and spread the warning.

"One of the kids spoke to one of the adult leaders after I talked. He was 13 years old and confessed he's been addicted to porn since he was 10," Deem recalls. "The kid was just in tears. Whatever I said struck a chord with him."

That child is now getting help for his addiction. And that's exactly why Deem continues to speak out about it.

That's also why he created RebootNation.org, a free online community of people who are addicted to "artificial sexual stimulation" and in search of advice and support. 

He'll talk more about rebootnation.org at the Nov. 17 conference in Winnipeg.

Generation XXX — The Pornification of Children is being presented by Beyond Borders.