addiction

Part 1: Why did you fall into the trap?


So if porn is as addictive as other drugs, why aren’t people talking about it? Unfortunately, history has shown that it can take years and even generations before a society understands the effects of addictive substances. As obvious as it sounds now that tobacco, alcohol, and drugs can cause serious harm, it took many years for people to believe they were dangerous—sometimes even after studies had shown how much damage they could cause. For example, in the late 1800s, cocaine was considered an excellent cure for many health problems, including toothaches. Lloyd Manufacturing Co. called their product Cocaine Toothache Drops, which were available over the counter from 1885 to 1914. Have you ever had a toothache? Imagine hearing your doctor say, “Here’s some cocaine; give it a try. It’ll make you feel great. It’ll make you forget you have teeth!” Sounds crazy, right? So why do you think this product was taken off the shelves? Because now we know better—science finally caught up with truth.




It happened again with alcohol. Many companies advertised that nursing mothers should drink alcohol so that the benefits of the alcohol would pass through their body to their nursing child. Makes no sense, right? As you can imagine, after seeing a bunch of drunken babies stumbling around mid-crawl, they stopped doing that too.

Another example of how we’ve gotten it wrong in the past is with tobacco. Not that long ago, doctors actually prescribed smoking because it “soothed the nerves and cleaned out the lungs.” Well, it sure does something to the lungs, but it doesn’t clean them out. Once again, we had to learn a lesson the hard way.
In each case—cocaine, alcohol, and tobacco—science had to catch up with truth. It was always true that those things were harmful, but it took a while for everyone to realize it. Let’s fast forward to our day. Guess what: we are learning a similar lesson with pornography. For many years, it was common to hear that pornography was a harmless pastime, and there was no reason to be worried. Not anymore. And this isn’t just about opinion—not with what we have learned about the brain. Studies are showing that pornography can be just as addictive as other drugs and extremely harmful. Is this new to you? Have you ever compared pornography addiction to a drug addiction? The reason this comparison makes sense is that scientists have learned that not all addictions come from chemicals you put into your body. Did you catch that? Not all addictions come from chemicals you put into your body.
From gambling, shopping, and thrill seeking, to video games, Internet use, and pornography, we now know that drugs aren’t the only thing that can cause a chemical overload in the brain

One of our members on the East Coast who had dealt with several drug addictions as a teenager and later suffered from a serious addiction to pornography told us, “It wasn’t until I paid attention to the symptoms of my pornography addiction that I realized that they were nearly identical to the symptoms I was having with drugs.” — Understanding what addiction does to the brain may help us see how it is influencing our actions and overall life. To be specific, viewing pornography releases a flood of chemicals our bodies usually reserve for positive activities—such as dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine, and serotonin—into the reward pathway of the brain. The overexposure of these chemicals can influence things like self-control, aggression, ability to focus, and other physical appetites, along with general ability to feel pleasure and respond to pain. — This may cause you to have a harder time controlling your anger or dealing with stress. Your eating habits may change. Your ability to enjoy regular things, such as hanging out with friends, listening to music, spending time with family, or playing sports, may diminish because you feel depressed or numb. However fun they used to be, these activities may no longer feel satisfying after coming to expect the rush of dopamine and norepinephrine that accompanies pornography use. And what happens when you want to have a real romantic relationship? We’ll talk much more about this later, but we’ll summarize it in one word: problems.
Technology today has made it easier to drown our brain in those chemicals over and over again. That unnatural amount of chemicals, once again, is what causes the addiction. When it comes to the brain, then, addiction is addiction. It doesn’t matter if it’s cocaine or pornography—the effects on the brain are the same.
After seeing porn’s negative effects in your own life, you’ve probably made an effort to quit and not use porn anymore. But after trying to resist for a while, you go back. You try to stop again. Then you go back again—over and over, again and again. You’re stuck. In a literal sense, you are no longer completely free. Your actions and choices are now mandated, controlled, and driven. Even if you want to leave the addiction, you may still feel helpless against its power over you.
Do you know what the Latin root for the word “addiction” is? This is interesting; check it out. It means “dictator.” A dictator is a ruler with total power over a country. How would you like to live in a country controlled by a dictator, where your freedom was severely restricted? What would you feel in that situation? We’ll tell you our answer: We wouldn’t put up with it. We’d get angry and rebel. When our freedom to choose what we most want is restricted by anyone (or anything), anger makes sense. So what do you say? Have you ever joined a rebellion? Are you with us? Maybe it’s actually time to get a little ticked at being controlled and forced to keep doing something you really don’t want to do deep down.
You make the call. If you’re in, we’re ready!

“Well hold on,” you might be saying. “If my brain is involved in this problem, is change even possible?” After a long time—even years—of struggling, we don’t blame you for asking. If you’re feeling especially discouraged about change, this section is for you.
To help someone who is feeling down, we often say things like, “Stay hopeful”; “try to have a good attitude”; and “don’t give up.” We agree with this advice and like to hear it sometimes ourselves. Other times, though, it can be very hard to believe that anything is really going to change.
So today, we’ve got a concrete, rock-solid reason for you to stay hopeful. Are you ready? Here it is: your brain and body are remarkably changeable. Did you know that? Almost no one did until the 1990s when some new scientific discoveries took place. Brain researchers used to believe that the brain was pretty much fixed and unchangeable. People knew that the brains of younger children changed and developed, of course. But the belief at the time was that once you became an adult, your brain became set in place with fixed neurochemical levels and stable brain pathways. Basically, this meant if you messed your brain up when you were young the damage remained permanent for the rest of your life.




Scientists don’t believe this about the brain anymore. The biggest discovery in neuroscience in the last two decades is a juicy word: neuroplasticity, “neuro” meaning brain and “plasticity” meaning changeability.
What this refers to is your brain’s ability to change with each thing you do. Like a never-ending game of Tetris, the brain is constantly laying down new layers and pathways based on the choices we make.
Each time you learn something, try something different, or experience something new, a fresh connection is forged and formed in your brain—with constant rewiring happening every moment based on your actions. This happens, of course, with pornography use as well. Over a long time, pornography use can start to literally rewire your brain, making it more and more difficult for you to resist using.
But the opposite is also true! As we begin to live differently, we forge new pathways in the brain. And as we leave old habits behind, the old pathways get grown over like a boring hiking trail no one uses anymore. Pretty good news, right? Just in case you missed it, here it is again: No matter how deep you are into this addic- tion and no matter how long you’ve been struggling, there is hope. As long as you don’t give up the fight your brain can change and rewire itself back to a healthy state over time.

Part 2: The real consequences of pornography