Addiction to pornography isn’t just an inconvenience that can waste time and interfere with your financial well-being. It can also wreck relationships with spouses and children, destroy your ability to enjoy sexual relationships, cause trouble on the job and cause an assortment of malicious software to end up on your computer. Like any other addiction, pornography can be tough to shake, and often requires several failed attempts before you’re able to break free. But with dedication and, when necessary, intervention from a qualified professional, you can eliminate this beast from your life.
Why Pornography is Addictive
Pornography, like other drugs, produces an immediate high. Sexual arousal releases powerful endorphins in the brain, and the release provided by pornography can help to temporarily alleviate stress, depression and anger. But this relief is short-lived and the more people use pornography, the shorter the relief lasts. This can create a vicious cycle requiring a person to use more and more pornography. Oftentimes, a desire for increasingly violent or graphic pornography occurs alongside the need for more porn. While it might seem like pornography use is a simple behavioral choice, pornography addiction brings about powerful changes in the brain that can be extremely challenging to overcome. Pornography often serves as a crutch that helps people avoid the complexities of intimacy, and the result of this use can be an increasingly isolated and frustrating intimate life.
Breaking the Cycle
The first step in ending a pornography addiction requires that users completely eliminate pornography from their lives. This is the only way to stop the cycle of a rush of endorphins followed by a crash. As with other addictions, users can experience withdrawal, anger, frustration and depression in the weeks after ceasing use, but these feelings gradually abate as the brain learns to readjust itself. Compulsive users of pornography often find that they need to institute coping strategies to help them stay away from porn, especially internet porn. Some excellent options include:
• Staying busy with friends and family
• Scheduling other gratifying activities such as vacations or fun outings
• Exercising regularly. Exercise produces the same endorphins as pornography and can help the post-porn crash feel less overwhelming.
• Enlisting the assistance of a friend, family member or partner to maintain accountability
Many people find that they are simply unable to quit porn cold turkey or that, when they do, the consequences of porn to their intimate lives, relationships and sexual performance are too high to manage on their own. There are several excellent treatment options available for people struggling with both compulsive use of pornography and its aftereffects. These include therapy, medication, 12-step programs and sexual education. If you’re not sure that you can kick the porn habit on your own, don’t waste time suffering in silence. Seek help immediately.
Maltz, W., & Maltz, L. (2009). The porn trap: A guide to healing from porn addiction, for sufferers and their loved ones. New York, NY: Collins.
Watts, C., & Hilton, D. (2011). Pornography addiction: A neuroscience perspective. Surgical Neurology International, 2(1), 19. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.76977
Many people believe that porn addiction and sex addiction are the same disease, but this isn’t necessarily true. While there are a few similarities between the two addictions, the reality is that the two addictions are quite different and aren’t as interchangeable as many people consider them to be.
One of the notable differences between porn addiction and sex addiction is that sex addiction always involves another party. While people who suffer from porn addiction are often looking for images that are visually stimulating or new, these images can always be found on a computer or television screen. People who suffer from sex addiction, on the other hand, constantly try to find new partners or new ways to have riskier and riskier sex.
Many people might be surprised to learn that people who are addicted to porn often have a difficult time with normal sexual performance. Many people who are addicted to porn fail to become sexually aroused by real women, even women that they find themselves sexually attracted to. On the other hand, most people who are believed to suffer from a sex addiction do not typically report having sexual performance problems.
Porn addiction seems to be on the rise with the increasing use and availability of high speed internet access. The fact that people can download and view porn on their mobile devices will likely lead to a further increase of reported porn addiction cases. Sex addiction, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be increasing as rapidly as porn addiction is. However, with the high profile case of David Duchovny being diagnosed as a sex addict running through the media outlets a while back, there seems to be a possibility that people who were suffering from sexual addiction weren’t being diagnosed correctly, and therefore we might see an increase in the number of people who suffer from sex addiction because there is a greater awareness of sex addiction. However, the bottom line is that porn addictions are growing to become common, whereas sex addictions are typically uncommon.
Because porn is used as a masturbatory aid, many people equate becoming addicted to porn with becoming addicted to masturbating. Not only is this link false, but it also clouds the distinction between a porn addiction versus a sex addiction. After all, if a person is addicted to masturbating, shouldn’t that be considered a sexual addiction? This idea neglects one key fact: People do not generally become addicted to having sexual orgasms. Although orgasms can reinforce the constant usage and viewing of porn, the usage of porn for many porn addicts does not go hand in hand with masturbation. Some porn addicts, when going “cold turkey” on porn, find that they miss the porn more than they miss the masturbation.
Some researchers have theorized that being addicted to porn is like being addicted to smoking. In the same way that each puff on a cigarette allows the body to take in a bit of nicotine, viewing images of porn allows the brain to receive a bit of dopamine. On the other hand, many researchers view sex addiction as a type of personality disorder. Researchers have theorized that sex addiction can be classified as a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder or narcissistic personality disorder.
It’s easy for people to hear the terms “porn addiction” and “sex addiction” and think that they’re related or are the same, but this is clearly not the case. Someone who is addicted to porn isn’t necessarily addicted to sex and vice-versa. While much of the subject matter in these addictions seems to be the same, these addictions differ in the way they rewire the brain.
http://www.PornographyAddiction.com presents Straight Talk, a series of talks about pornography addiction with Tony Litster of CuretheCraving.com. In this episode Tony talks about how change happens in the brain. Via the emotions we lay down layers of learning that make it easier to experience that the next time around. In 30 days we can see new change take place in the brain. After 90 days you can support the new changes. You can change in two ways: atrophy or reinforcement.
Pornography Addiction in America has become an issue in the recent years especially with the use of the internet to aid its rise. We thought it best to put together an infographic showing just how big of an effect porn has on each individual in everyday life. Some of the facts are sure to make you start to realize it is becoming more of a problem than we may think.
Show This Infographic on Your Site (select all, and copy)
http://www.PornographyAddiction.com presents Tony Litster of CuretheCraving.com. In this episode of Pornography Addiction Straight Talk, Tony spends some time with us talking about the difference between a user of pornography and an addict. He also spells out why a “user” should be careful with pornography, the hooks it sets in the brain.
It’s human nature to crave intimacy; in fact, we can’t survive without it! Many of us have grown up believing that intimacy only means being close to someone sexually. This simply is not true. Intimacy is a close association or connection with others; this involves healthy touch, unconditional love, acceptance, and predictability. Any positive relationship is a type of intimacy.
Negative consequences result when the basic needs of children and adults go unmet. Physical malnutrition can result in delayed development and illness. Likewise, being emotionally starved results in unfulfilled relationships with self and others.
We experience contentment and peace when the following needs are met:
• Emotional Needs: to be loved and accepted with consistency and predictability.
• Spiritual Needs: to feel connected to life’s greater purposes and to experience cooperation, joy, and community.
• Physical Needs: to have sufficient food, clothing, and shelter. Appropriate physical affection and touching is also essential for our survival.
• Mental Needs: to have access to learning and opportunities for educational advancements and acquiring sufficient life skills.
We thrive on intimate interactions and relationships with others. When our need for intimacy is neglected, our lives seem unpredictable, hostile, and stressful. The desire to escape or take flight from this stress can be overwhelming. When these conditions are present, we’re more likely to seek sources of release through addictive, and often, abusive behaviors. Unfortunately, when the “vacation” from the stressful environment is over, we return to the same, if not worsened, conditions–the negative emotional environment in which we repeat our cycles of addiction.
“With sexual addiction, instant sexual gratification becomes the addict’s most important, all-consuming pursuit. Part of the elevated mood generated by the activity may involve risk. Special routines and patterns may be followed that increase excitement, usually concluding in a sexual event…over which the addict feels absolutely no control.” (P. 295 Darryl S. S. Inaba, Michael E. Holstein, William E. Cohen, Uppers, Downers, All Arounders, CNS Publications, Inc., July 2000, Edition Number: 4.)
Pornography is an illusionary solution to meet the intimate needs of any participant. It shortcuts the natural process of being physically, emotionally, and spiritually close to another. The sensations are superficial. The bitter irony is that pornography and the use of the Internet for sexual expression actually increases the likelihood of separation from others: the exact opposite of intimacy.
Through healthy, addictive-free, self-care strategies, we become more balanced, stable, and valuable to ourselves and others. By learning to contribute to, instead of taking from, a relationship, we stimulate its healthy growth and development.
Ask yourself: “Do I feel like I am dying physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually? Has my life become unmanageable?”
If you answered yes, please visit the Candeo website here.
Dr. Sondra Shepherd
A trusted friend taught me that stressful, painful situations in life act like the negative end on a battery: when it butts up against the positive end of another battery, that completes the electrical circuit so that the equipment can function. If the negative and the positive ends don’t connect, the electrical device doesn’t work. Likewise, as we assess the condition of our lives (the happy and the sad aspects) and identify needed changes, we connect to the bigger picture that involves our relationship with others. In this way, our painful experiences (like the negative end of a battery) can serve to motivate us—to power us forward.
We live in a world of opposites: black/white; hot/cold; happy/sad. Our environment is one of continual change—nothing stays the same. Understanding about these contrasts can be comforting in our stress filled lives. How? There is a rhythm in nature that we can rely upon, e.g. the tide comes in and goes back out, day follows night, etc. When you’re feeling “low,” know that it’s only a matter of time, combined with your effort, and you’ll experience feeling good again.
Since you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you or someone you care about is struggling with a pornography addiction. You’re probably thinking, “Well, that all sounds reasonable, but I don’t believe anything can really make me feel better—ever.” And guess what? You’re right! Nothing or nobody can make you feel better. That’s for you to decide. Happiness is not based on a geographic location—it’s a choice—a feeling we choose to have inside of ourselves. No one can take that away from us. Not ever! And we take it with us wherever we go.
How do we go from feeling miserable to feeling good? It doesn’t happen all at once. It took you awhile to get where you are, and it will take time to arrive at your new destination. It’s a step-by-step process, not a single event. Overwhelmed you might ask, “So, where do I begin?”
The answer is: “You already have! You’re right here, right now, reading this article. You’re becoming more aware that you’re responsible for your life and you have some choices to make.”
Pornography addiction is rooted in thinking miserable thoughts and the resulting miserable feelings from thinking those thoughts. On a piece of paper, list the things you’re truly grateful for. Sometimes, that’s difficult. There’s a quote that goes something like this: “I wished for shoes until I saw a man that had no feet.” Practice relating your situation to something much worse and yours will always look good. Once you’ve identified what you’re grateful for, reach out and help someone less fortunate. It may be as simple as holding the door open for an elderly gentleman as he leaves the grocery store.
To learn more about the brain science behind pornography addiction visit candeohealthysexuality.com now.
Dr. Sondra Shepherd
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves.”
Did you know that: when you break a cookie in half, the calories leak out? And, when you cut a single serving of cake crooked, you can “even it up” and eat the trimmings without increasing the serving size? Of course, we know better! However, these are the kinds of games we play with ourselves.
Naturally, just as we tend to love sweets, we seek and enjoy other pleasurable experiences. In a society that promotes instant credit, instant breakfast, and overnight success, even saying the word “patience” tastes like vinegar!
Recently, my 15-year-old daughter asked me to lend her some money to enjoy a night of fun with her friends. I produced the money upon her agreement to “work it off—soon.” The inevitable day came that she promised to come straight home from school to do her job. However, more fun presented itself; she obtained permission from her dad, (who was unaware of our “deal”), to go to a sporting event instead. When I got wind of it, I promptly called her cell phone and we had a few words. From the tone of her voice, I imagined she was rolling her eyes. “M-o-m,” she said, without the least sign of endearment, “I only told you I would unless something else better came along!”
“You know a deal’s a deal,” I snapped back. “Don’t try and fool me!”
Ah, if we could only learn to tell ourselves, “Don’t fool me!”
Can you truthfully say you are free of porn while you’re still addicted to drugs, alcohol, or while you “just have sex a lot”? How many ways can we slice the pie before we’ve eaten every crumb? How many “mumbled apologies” can we give to ourselves and others, before we lose our credibility?
It’s an oldie, but goodie, from our friend, William Shakespeare:
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.” (or woman, or boss, or child, etc.)
If you’re saying, “Recovery from addiction works for other people, but not for me. I’ve tried so many times, but I can’t stop”—Take heart! Your magnificent brain that learns by repetition—(that’s how habits/addictions are formed!)—can learn how to form new, healthy habits. Imagine how nice it will be to say: “I am happy—deep down, all around, and on the surface happy.”
Recovery is not only possible, but probable! To learn more about the brain science behind pornography addiction visit the Candeo website here.
Dr. Sondra Shepherd
Life Skills Coach