In our world today, one of the menaces that have become really widespread and alarming is pornography addiction. Research suggests that problematic pornography use affects approximately 1.2% of women and 4.4% of men, meaning that around 1 in every 100 women and 4 in every 100 men are impacted. According to experts, pornography has become one of the most dangerous drugs of our time. Yes, you read that right, it is like drugs! Worse still, it is even more dangerous than cocaine and heroin because a cocaine addict or a heroin addict can easily be detected but a pornography addict cannot be detected.
In this enlightening blog post, we will explore the grave consequences of pornography addiction and review 12 tips on navigating the long journey towards healing but before that, let’s take a quick one.
Why Pornography is Addictive
You might be asking why pornography really is an addictive thing?
- The first reason is – it’s accessibility. In recent times, accessing pornography has become incredibly effortless. Unlike 2 to 3 decades ago, when individuals had to go through great lengths to acquire a Video Home System (VHS) tape or magazine and find a discreet location to view it, pornographic material can now be easily accessed with a few clicks on a mobile phone. This heightened accessibility has amplified the addictive nature of pornography, with individuals finding it increasingly difficult to resist the lure of these explicit images.
- Affordability: In the past, obtaining pornographic content required purchasing or renting physical tapes or magazines. However, in today’s digital age, accessing such material has become significantly easier – with a simple click on a computer, one can instantly access millions of websites offering explicit content.
- Because of its aggressive nature: The porn industry has created a hyper-stimulating version of pornography that goes far beyond what typically occurs in real sexual encounters between consenting partners. This poses a serious problem, as individuals who consume such material may find themselves losing interest in real intimacy with their partner. This can be especially problematic in relationships, as individuals begin to compare their partner to the hyper-sexualized images portrayed in pornography, leading to feelings of dissatisfaction and a loss of connection. It is this process of comparison that contributes to the addictive nature of pornography.
- Lastly, it is anonymous: The ability to discreetly watch pornographic content on personal devices such as cell phones or laptops is a key factor in the cycle of addiction. The ease with which one can access explicit material without being noticed contributes to a sense of secrecy and shame, which can further fuel the addictive behavior.
How It Starts!
With a trigger! There are chemical reactions that normally pops in the brain whenever you like something and one of these chemical reaction is dopamine. It happens that dopamine is actually responsible for our happiness and responsible for our addiction. Once you watch porn, the trigger would be popped up in your brain and the dopamine would be produced. When you are with your partner, this chemical reaction is produced in a very well calculated portion but when you watch these explicit contents behind screens, it is produced in huge amount. So it disturbs the system and that is why you keep going to watch again and again. So it starts by a trigger. And then the problem with porn is that it accelerates. The things that you used to watch 5 years back is not exciting anymore, so you want something different.
Pornography Addiction Help: 12 Tips on Navigating the Long Journey Towards Healing and Recovery
In this blog post, we will discuss 12 simple tips to begin your healing process. It’s called a healing process because overcoming addiction is a gradual process. During this process, there may be post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which is a period when your brain is readjusting and recovering. Implementing these tips during the first 30 to 90 days will be particularly challenging. Therefore, it is advisable to take steps to make this period as manageable as possible for yourself. However, I must mention that these tips might not be applicable to everyone, and the effectiveness depends on your level of addiction.
1. Tell Someone
The first step to healing is opening up to someone. I know this can feel embarrassing but you shouldn’t keep this as secret anymore, however, it’s important to exercise caution when confiding in someone. The negative effects of pornography are widely recognized, and it’s not considered a social good. If you seek support from the right people, you’ll be respected for having the courage to acknowledge your addiction and work to improve your life. Make sure though, that you trust the person you choose to tell your story to. You could consider confiding in a close friend, professional coach, or counselor.
2. Get Rid of the Triggers
Get rid of all pornographic images and pictures from your computer, and avoid any sources of pornography such as TV shows, Nollywood, Hollywood or Bollywood movies, etc. It would also be a good idea to do a social media detox at the same time that you‘re quitting. It’s a common misconception that pornography only involves explicit sexual content however, even a woman dressed inappropriately can trigger someone with an addiction. If you don’t distance yourself from these types of media, you risk relapsing again and again. The feelings of guilt that come with relapse can be overwhelming and push you into a deep state of depression.
3. Deal with the Root Cause
Your rewiring time depends on whether you need pornography to escape some sort of emotional pain. The most common types of pain are: unhappiness, boredom, loneliness. Pornography can act as an opiate to the brain, providing temporary relief from the pain. However, this relief is short-lived, and the root cause of the pain is left unaddressed. Watching pornography frequently does not provide a long-term solution and can lead to feelings of shame and guilt, ultimately causing even more depression. Therefore, it is essential to work on addressing the root causes of the pain instead of using pornography as a temporary escape. By doing so, you can reduce the time it takes to rewire your brain and overcome your addiction.
4. Set realistic goals
Break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones. For instance, instead of attempting to quit porn altogether, which often leads to false quitting, set a realistic goal such as abstaining from porn for one week. As you approach the end of the week, set another small goal to continue avoiding porn for the next few days. By setting incremental goals, you can create a sense of achievement and progress as you work towards overcoming your addiction.
5. Get a Social Life
Spending time with friends and engaging in social activities can help reduce the urge to watch porn. Making new friends, joining clubs or groups, and participating in social events can provide a sense of purpose and belonging, which can boost overall well-being and happiness. It is also a good idea to explore new hobbies and interests that can keep the mind occupied and focused on something positive. Building a social support system can also provide accountability and encouragement to stay on track with the goal of quitting pornography.
6. Don’t be Upset when you Relapse
Avoid punishing yourself when you experience a setback, as it’s most likely going to happen. Pornography addiction is a highly compulsive and powerful addiction that often leads to relapses. It’s important to understand that those who are addicted to porn typically don’t want to watch it, but are unable to resist the urge due to the addiction’s hold over them.
7. Develop New Habits
Develop new habits to break the cycle of watching porn. Observe yourself and identify when you typically watch porn. Many people watch porn late at night when they’re alone. To overcome this habit, try to develop a new habit of going to bed earlier. The power of habit has been scientifically proven to be adjustable and changeable, so it’s possible to shift your habits to healthier ones. By identifying and breaking the cycle of when you usually watch porn, you can successfully overcome the addiction. According to psychologists, practicing a new habit for 40 days can lead to long-term behavioral changes.
8. Be Honest
When seeking a cure for your addiction, it’s crucial to be honest with yourself and those helping you. If you’ve confided in a professional coach or close friend, it’s important to inform them when you experience a relapse. By being honest about your struggles, they can provide you with additional tips or approaches to help you overcome your addiction. However, it’s essential not to deceive yourself or others by hiding the truth about your relapses.
9. False Quitting
Beware of false quitting when you abstain from porn for a short period of time. It’s important not to assume that you’ve entirely overcome your addiction and become complacent after abstaining from porn for two or three months. Instead, continue with the healthy habits and routines you’ve established, such as engaging in physical activity, reading beneficial books, and going to bed early. It’s only when you can successfully shift your habits and avoid watching porn for an entire year that you can confidently say you’ve fully healed from pornography addiction.
10. Bring Order to your Life
Address the larger issues in your life and practice self-discipline. To effectively quit watching porn, it’s important to adopt a healthier and more disciplined lifestyle. This includes regular exercise, maintaining a clean living space, eating nutritious foods, and establishing a consistent sleep schedule. By making these changes and breaking free from a lazy or undisciplined lifestyle, it becomes easier to quit porn as all forms of lack of discipline can often be linked together.
11. Practice Mindfulness Meditation for 20 minutes a Day
Gaining control over your thoughts is crucial to managing dopamine cravings and achieving self-discipline. Mindfulness is a valuable life skill that can aid in impulse and emotional control. You can easily find guided meditation videos on YouTube, choose the one that suits you and practice it for 20 minutes every morning. Consistent practice for a few weeks can help you develop a greater sense of self-control.
12. Set Daily Goals for all Significant Areas of your Life
It’s important to set achievable goals in various areas of your life such as finances, social life, and health. These goals doesn’t need to be huge, but they serve as constructive outlets for the release of dopamine. The anticipation of reward triggers the release of dopamine, which plays a critical role in negative addictive behavior. On the other hand, it is also involved in all positive activities that we undertake. Consistently working towards your goals every day can help eliminate the compulsive urge to indulge in negative behavior such as porn addiction, binge eating, and excessive screen time. Achieving your goals can bring a sense of satisfaction and help you focus on positive and fulfilling activities.
How Long Does it Take For The Brain to Heal From Pornography?
By implementing the proper strategies, you can successfully quit watching pornography in just a month. It is entirely achievable as long as you replace your old, negative habits with new, positive ones and stick to it consistently. This new pattern will quickly start to change your brain’s neural connections, replacing unhealthy pathways with healthier ones. As a result, your dopamine receptors will upregulate, leading to an overall increase in happiness and pride in living a fulfilling life. By dedicating yourself to this process, you can rewire your brain and finally overcome your addiction to porn. All it takes is awareness, the right strategy, and the motivation to succeed in your journey towards becoming a hero.
After-Effects of an Addictive Pornography
Research shows that that every single day, a staggering 68 million search queries are related to pornography. Due to the easy accessibility of porn, it is common for individuals to develop a dependence on erotic material however, the excessive consumption of porn can also result in the following after effects, as described below.
1. Affects Intimacy Between Partners
Porn addiction can have noticeable effects on sexual function in both men and women. Men may experience erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, which can hinder their ability to achieve satisfaction with their partners. Watching porn frequently trains the body to reach orgasm as quickly as possible, which can result in ejaculating before their partner is satisfied. Additionally, unrealistic expectations and standards from porn may make it difficult for men to get an erection during physical intimacy with their partners. Women may also experience difficulty becoming aroused due to chronic porn use. As porn is a highly cerebral form of stimulation, it may make it harder for them to achieve arousal in real-life intimate situations.
2. Affects your Partner’s Self-Esteem
When a partner notices their significant other withdrawing physically and instead turning to pornography, it can deeply affect their self-esteem. They may begin to question their own sexual abilities, their partner’s interests, and even other areas where they may feel they are falling short. This can happen when the significant other of a person with hypersexual disorder feels neglected or replaced by their partner’s porn use.
3. Pornography can affect Satisfaction from Sex
Individuals who struggle with porn addiction may experience an unhealthy level of pressure to perform during sexual activity, which can have a significant impact on their overall sexual experience. Constant exposure to sexual content through pornography may result in their own sexual encounters feeling less satisfying.
4. It affects Daily Functioning
Pornography addiction can cause disruption in daily routines and can impede productivity in various settings, including work, home, and social environments. The intense desire to watch sexual content may become more important than fulfilling essential obligations, such as attending scheduled client meetings, visiting the doctor, or taking time to relax and unwind.
5. Porn Addiction may Encourage Mental Health Disorders
Increased desire for pornographic material has been linked to anxiety disorders, and may also contribute to mood disorders and substance abuse. While these claims are not definitive, excessive consumption of pornography has also been associated with sexual dysfunctions such as erectile dysfunction.
6. Difficulty Developing Romantic Relationships
Addiction to pornography can lead individuals to oversexualize others, placing an excessive emphasis on physical appearance or sexual prowess when seeking out partners, instead of prioritizing emotional and intimate connections that are essential for genuine relationships. This can result in the formation of superficial relationships based solely on sexual attraction, while ignoring important emotional and personal factors.
7. Social Isolation
Many people with serious pornography addiction decide to opt out of social situations in order to go watch pornography. This can cause them to miss out on valuable opportunities for personal growth and damage their relationships with others.
8. It Causes Feelings of Guilt, Shame and Low Self-Esteem
Individuals with a porn addiction may feel guilty for engaging in the behavior, especially if they are aware that it is negatively affecting their lives and they also feel ashamed of their addiction, particularly if they believe that others would judge them harshly for it. They also feel like they are not living up to their own expectations or those of others and this can lead to lack of confidence and feelings of inadequacy in other areas of their lives, such as their job, relationships, and personal goals.
Stopping Pornography Safely
1. Acknowledge the problem
Admitting that there is a problem is the first step towards recovery. It’s important to recognize that pornography addiction is a real issue that can have serious consequences on one’s physical and mental health.
2. Counseling & Therapy
Seeking support from professionals trained in behavioral addictions, such as counselors and therapists, can assist in managing the intricacies of porn addiction. Family therapy and relationship counseling can also be beneficial in addressing the emotional and intimacy challenges caused by this habit. Professional guidance can aid in navigating the feelings of guilt and compulsion related to pornography consumption, as well as identifying any underlying conditions that may be contributing to the addiction.
3. Support groups
Support groups provide a platform for individuals struggling with porn or other sexual addictions to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. By joining such groups, you can share your struggles with others and get support, which can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.
4. Stay committed
Healing is a journey, and it’s important to stay committed to the process. Remember that setbacks may occur, but with perseverance, the addiction can be overcome.
Addiction to pornography is a legitimate issue that can lead to biochemical changes in the brain, similar to drug and alcohol addiction. The good news is that there are numerous resources and solutions accessible to anyone seeking to defeat this addiction.