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Understanding Pornography Addiction

Pornography, often characterized as “the new drug”, is an epidemic affecting millions of people and their loved ones worldwide. It is not that one who views, listens to, or reads pornographic material is by nature a “sick”, “twisted”, or “bad” individual. Rather, the problem may lie in a serious misconception of pornography as being more of a harmless pastime or justifiable stress release in which “everyone” is involved instead of the harmful addiction that it is.

In this 3-part blog series, we would like to address the issue openly so that steps may be made toward healing and recovery. In order to effectively delve into and discuss the ways in which you or a loved one can overcome a pornography addiction, we must first understand what occurs on a neurological level to spark and fuel the addiction.

Addictions, in general, operate through what is called the Mesolimbic Dopamine System, or reward center, in the brain. As dopamine levels increase due to drugs and stimulants, one begins to feel invoked pleasure. The brain then craves that pleasure repeatedly and drives the individual to indulge in the same harmful behavior to receive it, effectively trapping them in a cycle of insatiable desire.

As the brain becomes accustomed to this pattern, a simple habit turns into an addiction and one can no longer just “snap out of it”. Pornography addiction operates in the same way and neural pathways become reinforced with repetitive use. Although they seem very different, there are only minor differences between a drug addiction and a behavioral addiction, such as pornography.

It is incredibly important to see pornography addiction in this way because it allows one to approach the problem correctly. One cannot solve a problem he or she does not understand, so the first step to resolving any issue is to see it for how it is. In our next posts, we will discuss how to talk openly with family and friends about this challenge and then what we can do to overcome it.

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