How I Overcame My Porn Addiction
I saw hardcore pornography for the first time around the first or second grade. The effects it had on my life were similar to those of abuse.
I was reintroduced to porn at a bookstore as a middle-schooler. Those were hard years for me and porn felt like a relief something good in the midst of something bad. I was hooked.
Learn real solutions to overcome hurts and struggles, and start to thrive in life.
I came to Christ at a young age and grew up in church, but there was always a dark side to me. I began feeling guilty in high school but learned it was better not to talk about it. I thought I needed to figure it out on my own, just Jesus and me.
Maybe youve fought a similar battle. Maybe youre fighting one now or know someone who is. Youre not alone.
When I was 21, I attended Bible school in Austria and later entered full-time Christian ministry. I brought my pornography addiction with me. I lived two lives, and my shame started to grow. I didnt understand why I was powerless over this sexual darkness, so I hid that life at whatever cost.
I took a year away from ministry to focus on restoration. It was a great year, but it didnt help with my addiction. I attended counseling, but that didnt help with my addiction.
I can now say Ive had three years of solid sobriety with no acting out. Im taking what I learned from Ted and teaching others because this topic is something people are desperate to hear.
Reward Circuits: Seeking Pleasure And Avoiding Pain
At its most basic level, the reward circuit allows us to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. Our very survival depends on the avoidance of pain and the repetition of pleasure. To this end, the reward circuit encourages us to engage in activities that either further our survival or the survival of our genes. These activities include sex, eating, bonding, achievement, play, novelty and taking risks.
We literally do not make a decision without consulting our reward circuit. The reward circuit emotionally justifies what we do like and what we dont like. When you are addicted to something, your reward circuit is out of balance. This affects your mood, your perception and your decision-making powers.
Realize That You Didnt Just Become Addicted To Porn
How you conduct yourself in public and where you look every day have greatly influenced where you find yourself today. That long stare at the passing woman, the double take at the lady you just walked by, the thoughts that come to mind when you see the magazines in the checkout lane at the grocery store This is where the battle starts in the everyday scenarios and situations. Fight the good fight here too. Guard your eyes and guard your mind.
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Pornography Addiction Impacts All Portions Of A Persons Life
As with other addictions, porn addiction has effects across all aspects of a persons life. Work, family and social bonds can all be impacted by addiction. When a person develops an addiction to pornography, their brain is craving a high. The same chemicals associated with drug addictions flood into the brain creating many of the same effects.When individuals start to crave the chemical release associated with viewing pornography other portions of their life suffer. The addiction enables people to get away from the pressures of life in an unhealthy manner.What sets pornography addiction apart from other addictions is the shame associated with the addiction. Due to the embarrassment and shame many pornography addicts face, they can retreat into feelings of denial instead of seeking treatment for the underlying issues. For most addicts, addiction can be a symptom of a larger underlying problem or problems.
How To Overcome An Addiction To Porn As A Teenager
This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 45 testimonials and 82% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,801,068 times.
Like any other destructive behavior that disrupts your everyday life, watching porn can become an addiction. Below are steps you can take to find out if you do indeed have a problem you should be concerned about, ways to understand the problem, and tips for changing your habits so that your temptation progressively lessens. Don’t be afraid to seek help from responsible adults and mental health professionals, as they are invaluable resources for overcoming a problem with pornography.
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The Recovery Approach To Porn Addiction
If you are looking for treatment for porn addiction, a treatment programme may be an option to help you start your journey to recovery. In treatment, we treat addiction through different therapies. Some of which will be explained in more detail below. Joining a treatment programme will help you integrate back into normal society and spend time around other people who understand or have been in the same shoes as you.
Treatment is a non-judgemental freeing experience to express yourself and learn about who you are, and how you cope with life. Often during a treatment programme you get a lot more than you came for, in a good way, where you develop friendships for life, a real understanding of what you suffer with, and how to cope with it, as well as a deep understanding of your own addictive patterns and struggles.
Compassion for others, as well as yourself is the start of the recovery journey. You are not broken, and you dont need fixing, we simply just point you back to who you really are, and shine a light on how to cope with life more effectively.
Rather than seeing a treatment programme as a painful, scary experience where you worry about what is going to happen. Think of it as an adventure to go on, to learn more about who you really are. We have years of experience in treating people with multiple addictions and this is often the feedback we get, what can look scary to start with, can turn out quite magical in the bigger picture of life.
Ever More Shocking Genres Of Porn To Keep Dopamine Souring
Unlike still images of pornographic material, videos replace your need to stimulate your imagination and place you in a position of a voyeur. Only with high-speed Internet and tube sites are you able to consistently boost your declining dopamine levels to unnatural highs and for an unnaturally lengthy period of time. Or you can boost your dopamine levels merely by switching to a new genre of pornography. If lesbian porn no longer excites you, you can switch to girls with goats, or perhaps gang bangs or midget porn.
Watching Internet pornography may also cause you to experience shock, surprise and anxiety. This causes the release of stress neurotransmitters and hormones such as norephinephrine, epinephrine and cortisol. These hormones increase excitement and amplify the effects of dopamine.
Porn addicts are known to escalate their porn use to forbidden or shame-inducing genres in order to boost declining dopamine levels. This is also known to encourage the release or these stress neurotransmitters. With time, a porn addicts brain may mistake anxiety with sexual arousal. This may explain why porn users escalate to ever more shocking or anxiety evoking genres of pornography.
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Take A Second And Think Beyond The Images Or Videos Youre Looking At
This is a person, a real woman, a human being created by God, just like you. Shes somebodys daughter, sister, or even mother. Think of what her life must be like in front of the camera day after day exploited and made insanely vulnerable. Chances are she is wrapped up in some kind of string of human sex trafficking and your addiction is helping to fund this multibillion-dollar business. She is not there for your enjoyment. She is being held captive and more than likely is crying out for help. Your pornography addiction is a heart issue first and foremost.
Porn Viewing Habits And Correlation With Sexual Satisfaction
Porn and sexual satisfaction are related, according to research. Recreational users, who demonstrate healthy porn-viewing habits, are more satisfied sexually and less compulsive. They also demonstrate less sexual dysfunction and avoidance. Highly distressed non-compulsive users, on the other hand, demonstrate less sexual satisfaction and more dysfunction and avoidance.
While less dysfunctional in their sex habits, compulsive porn users are more compulsive, more avoidant and less satisfied with their sex lives. Compulsive porn viewing has a clear negative impact on sexual satisfaction.
What Does Withdrawal From Porn Look Like
Like any other addiction, theres an emotional, physiological, and even physical dependence, and people can experience withdrawal symptoms from quitting pornography.
Symptoms include signs such as:
Sudden irritability, mood swings, or depression: Since a lot of extreme porn abusers may use sexual content to cope with other negative emotions in life, the early days of sobriety can bring up these suppressed feelings. Its not unusual for an addict to feel irritable, depressed or even anxious after theyve gone without porn.
Insomnia: The longer youre away from pornography, the more you may think about it. Initially, addicts may have trouble sleeping at night or feeling to need to masturbate.
Intense feelings of loneliness: Sometimes, porn usage can mask underlying issues that addicts may have, especially related to emotional or physical intimacy.
Without the release that explicit sexual imagery provides, feelings of loneliness and longing for a physical connection can begin to bubble up.
A desire to use another addiction to replace pornography: With a porn addicts coping mechanism gone, they may begin searching for a new one, especially when theyre new to recovery.
As a result, this can create a cross-addiction, where they turn to another substance like alcohol, drugs, or food to cope with the uncomfortable emotions theyre experiencing.
After witnessing bizarre and intense sexual intercourse scenes, having a soft, romantic experience may not seem enough or attractive.
What Happens In The Brain While Watching Porn
One of the clearest indicators of psychological addiction is an emotional response in the brain. Brain activity can be detected via electroencephalography which involves placing electrodes on the scalp and measuring the activity. It tells us, from the surface measurements, how active the brain is. We see increased activity whenever people with addiction are presented with images of that addictionlike cigarettes for smokers, or gaming for gamblers. But EEG tests from a pivotal study by UCLA neuroscientists in 20152 showed that people who struggle with porn consumption dont have this characteristic spike in brain activity while watching porn.
In fact, the researchers noted that they showed decreased brain reactions while viewing the sexual imagesthe exact opposite of what youd expect to see going on in the brain of someone with an addiction. The findings suggest that self-proclaimed porn addicts dont quite have the same relationship with porn as someone with a substance addiction has to their drug of choice.
Whats more, in 2018, compulsive sexual behavior disorderwhich includes compulsive porn usewas added as an impulse control disorder in the World Health Organizations International Classification of Diseases .3
It should be noted that porn addiction is not the same as sex addiction. Porn addiction, if it exists, is likely part of a larger problem of sex addiction but the jury is still out on whether either problem constitutes addictive behavior.
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Delete Your Browser History
This is one of those popular tips for dealing with porn addiction that has real merit.
Porn sites employ clever tricks to keep you coming back. One is making sure that when you type www in your browser, the first cache site is a porn site.
Aside from giving your friends a chance to make fun of you every time they use your computer, it cleverly puts the idea in your mind to revisit the porn sites instead of your original plan.
Those of you with a background in psychology will recognize this as a type of Pavlovian conditioning. Pavlovian conditioning as defined by Wikipedia :
Classical conditioning refers to a learning procedure in which a biologically potent stimulus is paired with a previously neutral stimulus . It also refers to the learning process that results from this pairing, through which the neutral stimulus comes to elicit a response that is usually similar to the one elicited by the potent stimulus.
Many times you end up looking at porn, your original plan probably wasnt to look at porn. You went to type in the address for another site, and the last porn site you visited filled in your search bar as a suggestion. Now youre triggered into craving porn.
The only way around this is to delete your browser history.
Make Viewing Pornography Inconvenient
Once we tell someone, we can mistakenly believe its up to that person to do the work to get us out of this mess. Thats simply not true. In accountability models, we often base freedom on being caught and forget to focus on how to prevent being tripped up by sin in the first place. To experience true freedom, you need to stop relying on someone catching you and start taking steps to prevent it.
Some people take this idea to the extreme and say, Get rid of your computer! Get rid of all of the technology in your possession! This is the 21st-century interpretation of Jesus instructions to gouge out your eye if it causes you to sin. However, for many of us, completely avoiding any form of temptation is going to be impossible. We work in a tech culture that almost mandates the use of technology and access to the internet. If youre able to limit or even eliminate your tech, thats great, but a better strategy is to make viewing pornography incredibly inconvenient.
Were creatures of convenience. Thats why pornography is such a prevalent and pervasive struggle. We literally carry it around in our purses and back pockets. Its right there, all the time. Sometimes, we turn to it simply out of boredom. It becomes a brain-dead, disengaged habit.
- Enable restrictions on your phone
- Install an internet filter
- Use technology in public places
- Get rid of your headphones so everyone has to hear what youre listening to
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Concerned You May Have A Problem With Porn
Take our short Porn Addiction quiz to see if you may benefit from further diagnosis and treatment.
Keep in mind, viewing porneven habituallydoesnt mean you have a problem . According to statistics, 40 million Americans regularly visit porn sites, and then you count COVID, so who knows how many more are tuning in.
But, if you feel a loss of control or that its causing other issues in your life, there are many ways to get support and regain a sense of control.
Understand What Drives Your Behavior
What are your triggers? Are you more likely to relapse when you get stressed about exams, feel lonely after attending weddings, or after you argue with difficult friends or family members?
Try your best to notice the patterns in your behavior. When you notice the patterns, then youll be better able to look after yourself during those stressful moments. There isnt a foolproof way to completely prevent stress, but it always helps to be aware of what presses your buttons.
Different Treatment Options For Recovery From Pornography
Virtual Treatment Programs:
Being addicted to porn may feel you ashamed. Unlike other addiction types, it may feel more embarrassing and humiliating to talk about it in front of other people.
Having individual therapy sessions and participating in specific groups from the comfort of your home may be easier.
You can start your recovery journey with a comprehensive and structured online treatment program through a secure telehealth platform.
Outpatient Addiction Counselling:
How To Help Someone With A Porn Addiction
Approach the situation from a place of love and support, rather than shame and judgment. Offer help to find a counselor or support group.
Dr. Louise Stanger, LCSW, author of Addiction in the Family: Helping Families Navigate Challenges, Emotions and Recovery, suggests that before you talk to a partner about concerns over their porn viewing:
Think first, and deal with any emotions before discussing Know their behavior is not a reflection of your relationship or you as a partner Write down your concerns, so that you get all of your reservations out in the open Ask open-ended questions without a negative or accusatory tone. Encourage your partner to talk Share your feelings Come to an agreement on whats next, whether thats a commitment to stop lying about porn use, or a decision to seek treatment
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Find A Trustworthy Support Group
I strongly recommend the online resource, Purify Your Gaze. The founder, Brother Zeyad Ramadan has both sincerity and years of expertise in this field. Recovery from addiction is a lifelong journey, and that path doesnt have to be a lonely one.
There is strength in community, and Purify Your Gaze offers both that as well as the safety of anonymity, through clients using online nicknames.