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Overcoming Pornography Addiction Part 1

Posted Jul 07 2008 7:16pm

This post is the second in a series of guest posts by Luke Gilkerson on how pornography addiction affects marriage and how to overcome that addiction. Check out yesterday's post on the myths of pornography.

Some of you are reading this now because you have this nagging sense your obsession with pornography is more controlling than you'd like to admit. Some of you are under no illusion: your obsession is an addiction, pure and simple. Some of you are the wife, husband, parent or good friend of an addict, and you hate what you see them going through . . . and what they are putting you through.

Some of you hate reading blog posts that have the words “part 1” in it. Great, you think, that means there's going to be “part 2” and who knows how many parts. I'm looking for quick information and answers. I don't have time to read all of this. I never knew freedom from addiction involved so much paperwork.

Please, remember, it took time to get addicted, and it will take time to overcome it. You have the time, trust me.

With the scores of books and articles written on this subject, what will one more blog post do? My prayer is that it will be a helpful step in the right direction.

First things first . . .

Yes, you can be addicted to porn. Addiction to pornography is one variety of many sexual-relational addictions. An addiction is a compulsive physical or psychological need for and use of a habit-forming substance. In this case, the addictive substance is one's own neurochemistry, the “feel good” chemicals released during a sexual encounter.

You may be wondering, “But isn't it normal and natural for people to have sex and release those chemicals.” Yes, it is. It's also normal to satisfy hunger pains with food, but eating the wrong kinds of food or too much food can be hazardous. Porn is like that: it taps a natural part of us in an unnatural and unhealthy way.

As in other addictions, one can develop a “tolerance” to porn. An addiction to porn is an addiction to sexual novelty. This means the same images, sounds, or video clips may not produce the same “high” as when they were first viewed, so one begins to search for a greater variety and amount of pornographic content. It may start with the accidental glance at a Victoria Secret ad, but this turns to an intentional search for sexual images online, which can eventually lead someone to search for images, video clips, or cyber-sex encounters that would have originally made someone gag.

Moving away from this addiction often proves to be a long journey for many. This addiction touches us at the core of our being: our psycho-sexual identity. The quest for freedom just might take you deeper than you imagined.

The Physical Addiction

Pornography addiction is akin to heroin addiction, except you carry the drugs around in your body—the chemicals you naturally crave don't require a syringe. This means that you not only have access to the chemicals whenever you want, but also that these natural drugs are more habit forming.

It is wise for the addict to face this side of the addiction with some gut level honesty: I need a break from this chemical high to be healthy again. Understand, as in any addiction, you will need to go through a period of detoxification. Depending on the depth of the addiction, you may need to step away from sexual stimulation altogether for a period of time. It is best to consult a licensed counselor about how to do this.

Psychological Dependency

In this addiction, you have grown deeply dependent on a whole series of activities and emotions stemming from those activities. It isn't just about looking at porn, is it? It's also about the pursuit. It's the anticipation of seeking out your source of pornography, waiting for the right moment to seek the thrill and heightened energy that comes from browsing through images, video thumbnails, social networking profiles, DVDs, magazines, or whatever is your preference. Your routine of looking for porn may have become quite involved. You may spend hours doing it, hours that seem to go by in a blur. Why?

Because it isn't just about masturbation and release, is it? You love the variety available to you in the world of pornography. You love the idealized settings, circumstances and people that this imaginary world offers. It's the search for the ultimate fantasy experience. In this fantasy YOUR needs are first, and it feels SO GOOD to have things your way. Returning to the real world of obligations and messy relationships can seem disenchanting after repeated encounters like this.

Depending on how long this routine has been going on, you have probably grown dependent on the series of emotions that come from this entire experience. You are attracted to the “forbidden aspect” of the whole pursuit. You may even “enjoy” some of the fear and paranoia of possibly “getting caught.” Most of all, viewing pornography taps something deeply rooted inside—a primal yearning. It feels so good to crave something and, for a brief moment, to have that craving met.

How do we overcome this addicting process?

First, we must face it and admit it. You have grown dependent on the emotional high from these pursuits. You love the escape.

Second, we must start the journey inside. We must begin to ask ourselves what motives and hidden issues are underneath our addiction.

Third, we need to bring others into the process. Make a list right now of one or two people you think might be able to help you ask the hard questions.

Porn addicts (who know they are addicts) may be among the most tapped-in people in our society. Their addiction has uncovered a deep longing for satisfaction. There is something deeply dissatisfying about their world; nevertheless, they enjoy porn as an escape, and yet there is this deep, long-term dissatisfaction about the escape as well.

Let me finish this post with this concluding thought: Don't waste your addiction. There are some who are looking to end the pain of their addiction and find the quick cure that will leave them unburdened. And that is, of course, understandable. But don't be one of many who trade this addiction for yet another series of mind-numbing distractions. Your addiction has ripped a hole in your heart and has provided a window for you to ask some searching questions: What do you yearn for? What is pornography medicating and distracting you from? Why are we so screwed up?

Don't waste your addiction. Be brave and take the inside look.

Related Posts:



Any Amount of Porn is Bad for Marriage

Supporting Your Wife After Rape or Sexual Abuse

Effects of Pornography on Marriage

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