In last week’s post, we explained how addictions form and how pornography addiction is similar to other addictions. As we come to see this new drug for what it is, a major struggle affecting millions of people, we can begin to talk openly about it and address the problem.
Almost all addictions cause the user to feel shame and the fear of what others will think or say prevents them from opening up about their struggles. But this is the opposite of what they need. When people feel isolated and without support, addiction is even harder to overcome. Having a support system where they can openly share their struggles and victories greatly improves their ability to rise above the destructive habit. In fact, the act of keeping an addiction a secret perpetuates the problem. Studies have shown that when someone is keeping a secret, they think about it more often. And, secretive acts can compound the pleasure response in the brain, consequently further solidifying those addiction pathways.
We recently spoke with Anthony Enniss, President of the Unraveling Pornography Club, an organization at Brigham Young University dedicated to educating others about pornography and bringing this growing problem to the forefront of social discussion. In Enniss' words, "Whether we want to accept it or not; many, if not most of those we interact with battle pornography use to one degree or another. It is so important for us each to understand this and have compassion on one another. This doesn’t mean that it is ok and we condone pornography use. But an extremely important part of breaking a habit of pornography use is complete transparency [. . .] specifically with another individual or group of individuals that they trust. Shaming and guilt tripping only perpetuates the problem and sends the user to further spiral down the path of use. We are in this fight together, it is not addict against victim or husband versus wife, rather it is all of us versus pornography."
The first step towards full recovery needs to be communication. If this is something you struggle with, find or create a support system with people that will listen and encourage you. Even if you don’t struggle with this particular challenge, be that support for someone else. Don’t judge or shame them, as this will only compound the problem. Be understanding and listen. Ask how you can be the support they need. Help them feel comfortable sharing their struggle and progress with you. It can be hard to separate the person from the addiction, whether that be yourself, a friend or family member, but we have to remember that people are not defined by their struggles, but rather their response to their struggles. Just this simple task of communicating openly about the topic will lead to impactful results.
Next week we will share some important information about what neurological approaches can be taken to recover from a pornography addiction. Below we have provided some insightful and helpful links to resources about making this conversation open and uplifting.
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Talking About Taking a Recovery Journey Together
The Experience of Secrecy
Benefits of Peer Support Groups in the Treatment of Addiction
Why We Need to Talk About Pornography