Pornography addiction is something people will joke about but is ultimately a behavior that can seriously damage more important functions and responsibilities in our life. With a porn addiction, the behavior of a person is considered compulsive in that the addict spends lots of time watching porn instead of interacting with others or completing important work. The addictive behavior would persist even if it harms a person’s career, relationships, or state of well-being.
Pornography has been around for centuries; however, the widespread availability of porn means the problem touches more people than ever before. Soft-core porn is everywhere we look—in movies, magazines, emails, billboards, TV programming, and even on posters at bus stops. And it is in the media. In our world both men and women dress to attract attention and to elicit romantic or erotic feelings in others. We are all bombarded with porn every day. It is the atmosphere we live in. I had a student come to me to ask for help because he had been struggling with porn and self-sexual arousal since he was a teenager. He told me he had tried all the right things, accountability, exercise, even cold showers, memorizing Bible verses, and church involvement, but he still struggled with porn.
The question is when do people know they are addicted to porn? Porn addiction happens when a person’s sexual behavior is dominating or interfering with his or her life.
With a porn addiction, the individual cannot stop these behaviors, even after experiencing negative consequences, such as damaged relationships, financial problems, unrealistic expectations in partners, sex recession or dysfunction among couples, or failing work performance. At this point, it is very clear that watching porn has become a compulsion beyond the addict’s control. The addiction will continue to have negative impact on her or his life until the consumer looks for help. Addiction disorders are closely linked, and one addiction often feeds into another creating a vicious cycle that makes recovery even more difficult. When we think of addiction, we often think of being addicted to chemicals, but people can also be addicted to behaviors particularly abusive ones.
Porn is a very powerful drug. Like any other drug, such as cocaine, opioids, or alcohol, it hijacks the brain’s pleasure systems and causes the brain to think a drug high is necessary to survive. Studies shows drugs affect the reward system in the same way that natural rewards, such as food and sex that are designed for survival of the species, do. A neurotransmitter well known in the brain’s rewards cycle, Dopamine, commonly known as the “feel-good” brain chemical, may rise to unnatural levels for consumers of porn activity as it does for drug or alcohol intake, making addiction more understandable.
According to one study, millions of people in the world watch porn and have spent billions of dollars on this porn drug worldwide. By one estimate fifty percent of internet traffic is sexually related. Today youth are bombarded by explicit images. When something enters our minds and heart, it will affect us as whole. We are the sum total of the thoughts that come in and go out of us. That is the reason we are warned against the poison of pornography. Pornography is a problem in the home, it is a problem in the school and church, it is a problem in a workplace, it is a problem in relationships, and it is a problem in a society. Most of us have never considered pornography a drug, but it is a new drug considering its effects on the biology of the brain as well as on relationships. Whether people realize it or not, they know someone who is struggling with pornography addiction. Government and faith-based leaders should fight against this new drug that has such a social cost upon men, women, and children.
Pornography is one of the most secretly diabolical forces of the twenty-first century; it is slowly destroying marriages and real meaning in relationships, while tearing apart the real foundation of our family. People who have been absorbed in porn during their teenage and young adult years find it hard to be a faithful and loving husband and have become desensitization towards acts of abuse and sexual violence towards others. Some researchers believe mirror neurons in the brain cause consumers of porn violence to imitate it.
A recent article in The Atlantic accredited the recent rise in nonconsensual choking during sex to viewing pornography violence. In any case, if porn continues to be a drug of choice for teenagers and young people, the future of our family, society and country will be bleak as well. The government should really declare war on porn just as it has with other drugs.
According to another study, there are four steps that lead to pornography poisoning the psychology of a person. First, the addiction factor recognizes that an individual cannot just look and walk away from porn. Porn is like a powerful drug. It offers its hook and then lodges it in our brain. Secondly, there is the escalation factor in that what thrilled and turned the person on before must be stronger and generally it will be more deviant. The third step is desensitization in which the viewer of porn becomes desensitized to it. No longer does he or she see these things as shocking, bad, brutal, or weird, but instead the consumer begins to think this is normal and is not bothered anymore by what the person sees. The fourth step is that of application or participation in which the porn viewer now imagines putting the behavior into practice and acting on what he or she sees on the web and internet.
There is no way that porn will bring true happiness. It may give short-term pleasure but concomitantly will have long-term damage. People watch porn because they think it will make them happier because it gives them sensory pleasure. But studies show, ultimately it only destroys the viewer. As in the use of any drug, the user sacrifices long term wholeness for short-term gratification. For those who believe in God and acknowledge sin as the rejection of His will for our lives, they understand that sin has been around since the beginning of human history, when Satan convinced Adam and Eve that they needed something outside of God’s will, but sin is increasingly evident in our culture today.
There has been an astronomical rise in the porn industry which is readily available over the internet, on TV, and through other media; consequently, the more people are exposed to it, the more addicted they are and the more miserable they are. Because porn acts are not based on love, they do not bring happiness. Porn decontextualizes sex making it unrealistic. But with love, a fullness of a relationship brings happiness. We deserve nothing, yet God has blessed us with much. Eternal life is something that no amount of short-term pleasure should be traded for even if our flesh still desires it.
Another reason that porn is the most dangerous drug of the twenty-first century is because it is highly contagious. It seems everywhere, and viewers pass it on, sharing images, links, and sites. Further, it is being used in lieu of sex education, and experts all agree that it is a poor and harmful substitute. Porn leaves behind a trail of death and destruction of relationships. To find the right solution to the porn addiction, we must first start with the right starting point. Porn is about sex, but sex is not the problem, because sex was designed by a triune God as a reflection of the joyful self-giving and pleasure of love enjoyed within the life of those committed to one another in marriage.
As a perversion of sex, porn seeks its own pleasure.
The fight against the porn addiction starts in a person’s mind. How a person thinks about what is happening proceeds the practical steps he or she implement to fight the problem. I believe that pornography is a worship disorder. Both men and women turned to porn for comfort instead of seeking and trusting God’s help during the awkwardness of life. To overcome the porn addiction, viewers will not win through abstinence from technology. The battleground is within the heart, and this truth is very important for any desperate person to overcome porn addiction. The book of life tells us that the fear of God will set us on the path to freedom from any addictions because we will not be mastered by anything if we rely on his power. Since our fallen identity is the root of the problem, then God is the only solution. If an individual’s faith has fizzled before the finish, it was most likely faulty from the beginning. Yet, at any point an acceptance of his power in our lives allows us to overcome addictions.
Dr. Aland Mizell is with the MCI, SETBI and a regular Mindanao Times.You may email the author at:firstname.lastname@example.org