Pornography


Sexuality is an important part of any healthy lifestyle. Pornography, on the other hand, is sexuality on steroids! It’s a supernormal stimulus, and with regular use, it can alter the brain both physically and chemically, leading to addiction.

If you’ve been trying to manage a pornography addiction, please know that success doesn’t come down to your character or sense of morality. Changing the habit takes more than willpower, determination, and sincere desire to quit; and effective counseling must always take the neuroscience of addiction into consideration.

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? 

  • A fixation on pornography use
  • Feelings of isolation, helplessness, or shame 
  • Spending more time than you intend to looking at pornography 
  • Asking yourself “Am I addicted to porn?” 
  • Decreased interest in hobbies or real-life sexual experiences 
  • Decisions to “quit porn” have failed in the past
  • Normal life (friendships, profession, family) disrupted by porn use 
  • Erectile dysfunction 

The “Four C’s” of porn addiction:

  • Continued use in spite of negative consequences 
  • A Compulsion to use
  • Inability to Control use
  • Psychological or physical Craving to use 

Treatment to freedom includes: 

  • Building knowledge around your addiction
  • Creating a plan with tools that help you break free from addiction 
  • Accessing a community of people who can support you 

Where do you consider yourself on the path to freedom from pornography addiction? 

  • Pre-contemplation. Perhaps you don’t even think you have an addiction. Or, maybe you are trying to help a loved one who you worry has a pornography addiction.  
  • Contemplation. You know you have an addiction and you are curious about your options. 
  • Preparation. You are the process of building your knowledge, creating a plan, and accessing the community. 
  • Taking action. You are putting your knowledge and the plan to work, and you are accessing the community support.
  • Maintenance. You are experiencing new freedom from addiction.
  • Relapse prevention. You are enjoying long-term freedom but are cautious about pitfalls that could lead you back to addiction.   

You can find your way out of being controlled by pornography. 

A Deeper Dive

Want more information right now? Here’s a deeper dive in the neuroscience of addiction. It’s all about the Dopamine rush…

It’s been said that when you’re addicted to one thing, you’re addicted to all things. Why? Because the neurotransmitter dopamine is an essential chemical in our excitatory system (all the parts of us that interact and respond when we feel excited). Dopamine is released every time we do something that feels good, no matter what it is.  

It's all about that Dopamine rush...

Every time dopamine is released in the reward center, it excites the next neuron. Neurons like to be excited, which is why they have receptors. But, they like to be “tickled” (so to say), and not bludgeoned to death—which is what happens when you do something compulsively.

In the normal process of being stimulated, a neuron likes to be excited and then come back to a baseline. Chronic excitation of any neuron will lead to neuronal cell death. 

How neuronal cell death leads to addictive cravings…

Since the body is always attempting to protect and adapt to self-inflicted behaviors that can hurt us, it has a back-up plan. 

The second neuron (the receiving neuron) has a plan B, which is a self-defense mechanism. It down-regulates the number of receptors, turning off some of the dopamine receptor sites so that the body doesn’t get too much dopamine at once. After this down-regulation, it is less likely for a dopamine molecule to find a dopamine receptor to bind too. This is called “the law of mass action.” It means if you get a dopamine hit over and over, creating the rush of feel-good pleasure, the amount of receptor numbers decrease. Then you need a bigger hit to get the same rush, which in turn makes the receptors go down further. Then you need a bigger hit, then a bigger hit… until a huge hit gets you nothing.  

Addiction is serious, because once the neurons die, they do not come back. The receptor sites can come back once you stop the addiction, so long as the neuron is not dead. The goal is to disrupt the addiction in time to keep the neurons from down-regulating.

That is called tolerance. That is when the neurons start to die, and you have addiction. This can happen with nicotine, alcohol, shopping, gambling, social media, gaming, porn, sugar.

Addiction is serious, because once the neurons die, they do not come back. The receptor sites can come back once you stop the addiction, so long as the neuron is not dead. The goal is to disrupt the addiction in time to keep the neurons from down-regulating.

Regardless where you consider yourself on the path to freedom, NPS pornography addiction counseling can help!

Are you ready to take the next step?

Contact NPS and schedule your first appointment today.

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