Masturbation as Stress-Relief

Hi, I’m Kaleb, 18 years old. I’m in RCIA currently. I came to the Church about a year and a half ago, before which I masturbated everyday, sometimes more than once a day, for pleasure and other reasons. I have had alot of stress in my life, from an abusive mother, to emotional abuse at school, anxiety and depression disorders, and a speech impediment. As I have come to the Church, my conscience has been clarified, and I now definitely believe that masturbation is a sin. But, one difficulty I have with it - not masturbation being a sin, I know it is - is that I tend to have alot of stress, anxiety and depression in my daily life, from various causes, and before I came to the Church masturbation offered me, despite my shame at admitting it, a form of pleasure-based escape. I could do it, nothing would come of it, and it let me get my mind off of my problems, relax and release.

But, since I got in RCIA, I have been trying to not do it, especially within the past couple weeks. Unfortunately, my stress has only gone up over that time, from some family and money problems, and I am very nervous and anxious. I wish that I could masturbate; it helps me to release and clear my mind, despite my guilt afterwards. But I also don’t want to, because I know it’s a sin. Would there be any culpability lessening that could be given to me, especially while I’m just in RCIA and can’t even go to confession yet, to do masturbation like once a week or something, just to help my anxiety problems? I know this is selfish, perverse and wrong - trust me. But I would love to be able to do it. Any help would be much appreciated.

It might help you to know that whatever you are doing , every minute and every second of your life, Our Lord is watching you. After you have been baptised by water and Spirit, your body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit and you would not want to defile His temple in you. However, find strength in His words by reading the bible. He will give you a way out of your problems, anxieties and stress. The joy of the Lord will be your strength. In time of trouble, call to Him. He will not abandon you nor forsake you. Cast your burdens upon Him and He shall give you rest. May His peace be upon you. God bless

It is really quite hard to break a habit. As one who posted a reply, the Lord sees what we do. And I think that what you are doing, although I cannot judge you for it because I am as guilty as you of that “sin”, can be stopped, as every act can be stopped. And if we think it is wrong, then it must be disastrous. In my experience, it is very disastrous. It will never relieve one’s stress, or fear or what not for we know that purity is the sure way to happiness, this last, if I am right was said by the late Pope John Paul II.

Hi Kaleb:

Abusive childhoods are the breeding ground for addiction. As an adult child of a raging alcoholic, I should know. Abused children “numb out” using anything that alters the mood. Self-sex is one of those things that provides instant temporary escape from the painful realities of being abused and living in an anxiety filled environment. By the time adulthood is reached, the masturbation habit can be well established as a means of dealing with stress and anxiety. Masturbation in this sense is no different than overeating, smoking, drug and alcohol abuse.

The shame you are feeling about your masturbation will make your anxiety worse and put you in a “no win” situation increasing your desire to escape through any means possible, especially more masturbation. It is a vicious cycle. Masturbation produces guilt,which produces anxiety, which is relieved though more self-sex or even worse, other addictive activities or harmful substances. God understands what you are dealing with and wants you to work on learning new ways to relieve your anxiety. Your slips ups are nothing more than bumps in the road to a closer relationship with him.

At this point you must be extremely careful about developing religious addiction. Religion can be extremely mood altering. The problem is that the masturbation is probably fairly well entrenched as an addiction and you will have a tough time stopping on a permanant basis.

At least for now, digest this information and look into some information about the link between child abuse and addictions. I hope to follow up with more later.
God Bless.

Masturbation I think is the one habit that is the hardest to break. I was addicted to Masturbation and started around age 7 and did it until age 40.I actually got in extreme pain when I went more then 3 days without doing it. I was married 21 yrs and even though my husband and I had sex, I had to have masturbation. I did it multiple times a day and I really thought I never could stop.
Then I went to sexaholics group.It was all men and I was the only woman. So, forget that. But I did get the book they had for sexual addiction. That was very good.
I realized not only was I addicted to masturbation I was addicted to sex with men.I was having my eyes opened by the Holy Spirit. I went weekly to confession. That was so uncomfortable and to add to that uneasiness Priests are MEN!
I tried to talk myself into thinking that it was ok to masturbate sometimes. Even got a doctor telling me all the healthy things about masturbation and priests would tell me once in a great while for my painful condition I could masturbate.At first it was great, I has an out. But deep down I knew I was wrong.
Then one day I had heart failure and a visit from an angel. I got the message that I had to stop. I agreed. Whatcha gonna do on your deathbed? So, I had to end an engagement because this man and I would push our limits. We told ourselves that as long as we were not having sex with eachother everything was ok. But,there are more ways then one to get sexually intimate and we pushed and tried every way.I even moved out of state and the big motivator was to get far away from him my biggest temptation.
When you decide, and you must DECIDE to stop masturbating. You have to figure out what are your triggers. I often had to turn off the tv, or even movies I was really relaxed and glad to find when reading the synopsis that there was nothing tempting to me,but once watching the movie, quess what popped on? So, then I had to completely stop watching it. Bill boards while driving, many triggers over 40 yrs. I had.GET RID OF TRIGGERS! STAY DETERMINED, Use the sacrement of confession and receive the Eucharist. Pray alot. Anyone into masturbation is in a spiritual battle. Sex is one of the hardest to battle, Because it takes so little to pull you in. I read one saint who had this problem decided to walk with his head down all his life so not to make eye contact.That was one of his triggers. Another saint,might of been St.Francis?? Once when he was tempted he threw himself completely in a thorn bush.
Unlike any other addictions, you have to stop the thought immediately. Unlike,lets say food. You can think a little about that chocolate cake. And still stop yourself. But that is not how it works with sensualality. Blessed Mother said more people go to Hell because of impurity of the body then any other sin.
If I could stop…you can too. Once you get past the first 4-6 months I found it alot easier. and there are exercises you can do that help.Not sure what they are for men. sorry.But you can find out.
As with any addiction, as you learn to stop it you must replace it with something you like and is good; Like a special radio you always wanted and calming CD’s ,etc.
I will pray for you, Spirit

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How can his peace be upon this young man if God is ALWAYS WATCHING… even while you are engaging in addictive behavior that is rooted in child abuse? Your advice is obviously given with good intent, but this is terrible advice to give anyone struggling with any form of sexual addiction.

Shame is gasoline on the fire of anxiety. The last thing this kid needs is more shame.

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It sounds like you have an addiction.

Some folks drink, gamble, engage in sex as a matter of stress relief and you have chosen masturbation.

It also sounds based on how you speak of it, that you cannot just quit anytime you want–which is an addiction.

My husband is currently in treatment for his addiction. He too utilizes it as a stress relief. He has had to seek therapy with a counselor quite familiar with sexual addiction. Over the 20+ years he has utilized it for stress-relief, it has become a horrible unbreakable habit.

Without getting into Catholic doctrine–once in a while doesn’t make it an addiction, but something you like to do. But habitual use that you cannot stop and can’t think of any other healthy alternative makes it an addiction.

My husband has gone on retreats, he has spoken with priests, and he has confessed it too many times to count. But it never went away as a problem–b/c it was an addiction.

One would never dream to expect an alcoholic to just not buy vodka and expect that they would heal from it.

This will negatively impact any future relationships you have especially when you wed. So it is highly important to do what you can to take care of it now.

My husband is well aware of what the catechism says. But he just could not stop. After 11 years of marriage, I provided an ultimatum that he seek treatment b/c he has never been able to fix it himself.

I hope this finds you in peace and you don’t think I am lashing at you or condeming you. I am not.

I had my own problems (unrelated to what you are going through) and I have lost count of the number of times that people told me to turn to God and pray about it. In my case it wasn’t enough. I had to have intervention and the assistance of a psychiatrist and a psychologist–after 1 year of treatment, I am on a small break but am much better than where I was. I can honestly now see the light of what it means to pray on a problem and seek God’s counsel. But I was just not at a place in my life where I could do that on my own.

Due to my treatment, that is when it became obvious that my husband was distracted by his addiction.

It’s very sad–I have no idea how he is doing. But I do know that his therapist gives him a lot of homework that involves building personal relationships. He cannot fix his problem to seek out masturbation as stress relief if he has nothing to fall back on.

I’m not a therapist, so I may have messed up the explanation a little bit.

My psychiatrist is Catholic and we followed her counsel in someone she trusted to help my husband.

Sometimes you just cannot fix a problem alone even with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes God is sending you a lifeboat via a trained counselor and this is okay.

Guilt does not help an addict quit their addiction no matter how well meaning it is.

There are over 150 million addicts in the USA. Almost all addiction is rooted in child abuse on some level. Most importantly, a loving God does not burn his children in hell because they are unable to beat their addictions. Abandon your shame and embrace God’s love. This kid will only be guilty of sin if he makes no effort to overcome this.


I had the same problem, getting
out of a cult, a ton of problems.
I needed to find a way so I could
atleast function. I didn’t have a wife or anything, and alcohol would give me headaches the next

Masterbation seemed to work, I could sleep well. And it helped stress and everything. Then I started rcia and got baptised.
I wish I could say there is some magic cure but there isn’t.
I stoped masterbation as soon as I was baptised, haven’t done it since.

Some nights are pure torture.
I feel so alone and stressed out
and I can’t sleep. You can pray but
that dosent give me an instant stress relief or anything.

HOWEVER it gets easier to stop
masterbation. Like right now, when I am stressed…its been so long since I have masterbated
that I almost can’t remember exactly how LOL. No seriously!
After time has past, you may still
want to do it…but when you think
how exactly dose that work again, I just say oh forget it LOL.

But here is the best part, you will feel so much better about yourself
because you can beat an addiction

That’s huge!

So our goal is not to stop cold turkey. Start of with 2 weeks, don’t do it for 2 weeks. I don’t care if you have to go outside your
house and run around the block at

It won’t kill you two go 2 weeks without masterbation would it?
So lets do that first.

I can’t stress this enuff.
Stay away from porn! All of it!
Don’t even look at the pictures on
the net.Because that will make it impossible. Don’t look at sports illustrated swim suit addition. None
of that!

You want a good healthy relationship with a wife some day.
And she won’t think its cool if you look at stuff like that.

I went through the same problem. It took me almost a year to stop doing it. How I stopped was simply praying the rosary. I had struggled for a long time and just decided to pray my first rosary asking for help one day. After about two weeks I realized that it was so much easier for me to resist them temptation to masturbate. The temptation was still there, but I just had so many graces from God to help me. Now I pray the rosary every day and I love it. I hope the rosary can work for you also. God Bless

Thanks so much to everyone for the generous and loving replies. I really do appreciate it. :slight_smile:

During my time in RCIA, and studying the Church before that, I have come to discover an aspect of Catholicism that doesn’t seem to be addressed by many: Catholic psychology. It seems to me that the Church focuses heavily on psychology, specifically, how not sinning and living good is the perfect way to be psychologically healthy and happy. I have even found that true, unbiased scientific psychology attests to the Church’s psychology too. But, that was more of a side note I suppose.

Through my own thought, talking to others and reading about such things, I have definitely come to understand that my masturbation is an addiction, and that it’s caused by stress and anxiety-based child abuse, which has continued in the form of my mental and speech problems after childhood. Especially because in my childhood I and my family weren’t Catholic, I developed a way to instantly get my mind off of my stress - namely, masturbation. But, I think that this form of escapism in a sense derives from Satan. I think the devil knows how and when to tempt people when they’re most vulnerable, and it seems that when people, especially children, are in bad situations, he makes them become addicted to things that are also bad, such as masturbation, convincing them that that other bad thing will take their mind of the bad things they’re experiencing - which of course is a lie. Being addicted to a bad thing to cover up another bad thing only causes more bad things in the future. I think this is what happened to me. I was in an abuse situation in my childhood, and Satan tempted me to focus on something bad, namely masturbation, to get my mind off the bad I was living. And I have continued using that method even after my childhood, to deal with any sort of stressful situations I got into. And, if this addiction is not stopped, it will simply continue to injure my mind more and more as I get older and get into relationships, especially within a spouse. And I really don’t want that to happen.

From what I can tell, the best way for me to stop my masturbation addiction is manifold. For one, I need to fully give myself to God, especially once I can take the sacraments, praying and going to Mass regularly. For two, I need to find peace, through God, in myself in order to not let stressful situations or problems make me vulnerable to temptations. For three, I need to find another, better way of dealing with my stress, anxiety and problems than something bad like masturbation. I need to fix and deal with my problems, and come to accept the ones I can’t change; I need to find a stress-reliever, such as some physical exercise, a creative activity, etc.; and I need to try to strengthen my faith, through prayer, the sacraments, and mental practice, in order to not doubt the truth of the harmfulness of sin, the power of God to get me through problems, and the superiority of a Godly life.

Thanks again to everyone for the replies. God bless everyone. :slight_smile:

Please see the following thread for additional insight and advice:
*] Specific Questions About an Old Topic: Masturbation

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