Addiction to Porn is a Real Addiction

Understanding the brain science behind an addiction to porn begins the thrilling journey of finally breaking loose and becoming free.

Armed with this understanding, you can then apply some new ideas and principles that will put your feet solidly on the path toward complete freedom from porn addiction.

The fundamental question is this: Is pornography really addicting? Or, asked another way, can someone really develop an addiction to porn? Is there an acquired dependency, as in drug or alcohol addiction?

Some have debated this issue. But the answer is a key to understanding the course that you, or your loved one, must take to stop viewing pornography.

So, let’s settle the question once and for all.

Mark Kastleman, in his landmark book, The Drug of the New Millennium-The Brain Science Behind Internet Pornography Use, clearly provides the answer. His research, with the help of leading neurologists, uncovered the truth about pornography use: it alters the brain and is addicting. Pornography addiction is real.

Here’s what happens. During the sexual process the brain releases neurochemicals that, in a healthy marriage, significantly enhance the couple’s relationship. The same chemicals are released in the brain when viewing pornography, but the effect is anything but positive!

What is created is an actual chemical dependency on those natural chemicals to provide a “high” or an “escape.” In a healthy marriage, sexual intimacy has the powerful effect of strengthening the bonds of marriage. It makes the couple more equipped to lead happy, healthy, productive lives.

Viewing pornography releases the same natural chemicals but in an environment that is completely sterile of anything uplifting or good. Very different from a healthy marriage. A married couple comes together in a warm, mutually beneficial experience that puts the “cherry on top” of a relationship bound together in love, sacrifice, and commitment.

Viewing porn is a powerfully negative experience that leaves the viewer less able to cope with life’s stresses, less equipped to lead a happy, healthy, productive life. There is nothing that comes from viewing it that has positive, long lasting value, like peace or strength.

Until an addiction to porn is stopped, the user only faces a future of more negatives: despair, self-loathing, and a tendency for more deviant material and behavior to satisfy the unbridled urge for more, more, more.

Mark Kastleman describes what happens when viewing pornography this way:

“The viewer feels highly aroused and excited… All of the stress, pressures, anxieties and pains of life begin fading away as his system is flooded with endogenous drugs… The viewer is able to self-medicate and escape from the reality of life-a hard day at work; financial struggles; an argument with his wife; health problems, etc. The same natural chemicals released during marital intimacy are released in porn-viewing, but with a much different result.”

Natural Drugs

Let’s look at these “endogenous” or natural drugs that the body releases during the sexual process, and how they develop an addiction to porn:

Dopamine – When the brain releases this chemical during the sexual process in marriage, each spouse is intensely focused on the other. They concentrate on each other’s positive qualities and overlook the negative. It produces feelings of ecstasy and exhilaration.

How about when viewing porn? Dopamine causes the viewer to be intensely focused on what he or she is viewing. An addiction to porn means he shuts out reality and sees only body parts. This narrow view deprives him of true, lasting fulfillment when the other chemicals kick in.

Norepinephrine – This natural chemical produces exhilaration, increased energy, and the ability to remember even little details. In a happy marriage, a couple is strengthened through the memory of positive experiences together.

The porn viewer, however, is plagued by the many perverse images that have been “seared” in his memory. As one adult told me who had spent a lot of time earlier in life looking at porn, “I’m still plagued with what I saw in high school.”

Testosterone – We often associate this chemical only with men. However, for both men and women it is known as the “hormone of sexual desire.” It triggers feelings of well being and energy.

With someone addicted to porn, testosterone narrows the already narrowed mind even further. More and more of this chemical is released increasing the desire for more porn. “This natural chemical intensifies the male focus on female body parts and fortifies the brain so that he can remain in the funnel for many hours without tiring… Time and reality… virtually disappear.”

Oxytocin – This chemical has several positive roles. It’s referred to as the “cuddle chemical.” Oxytocin levels rise during positive experiences like holding hands and hugging. At sexual climax, these levels “spike in an immense neurochemicals rush that forges a powerful bond between husband and wife, producing a feeling of oneness, closeness and attachment.

“In addition, the flood of oxytocin at climax acts as a natural tranquilizer, lowering blood pressure, blunting sensitivity to pain and stress, and inducing sleep.”

What a wonderful gift oxytocin is in a happy marriage! Oxytocin causes the husband, for example, to be powerfully attracted to certain features in his wife. Through normal day to day living, as he sees her, he is reminded of his attraction to her. His feelings of love and commitment grows. He is bonded more and more to her, and their relationship grows ever stronger.

But what happens with pornography addiction? What is the viewer bonded to? He becomes powerfully attached to the body type and features of those he is viewing. What if his wife or future wife is shaped differently, for example, than the ones he has become bonded to? Obviously there will be tough tendencies and difficult expectations to overcome.

Another problem is that the oxytocin rush at climax that “acts as a natural tranquilizer” leaves the one with an addiction to porn empty and lonely after the experience. He is more emotionally depleted than before.

Serotonin – This is released right after climax. It’s a stress releaser and generates feelings of calmness and satisfaction.

For the porn viewer, the stress release and satisfaction is short lived. There’s no place to go, no one to turn to, no promise of a better tomorrow…

But there is great promise of a better tomorrow when your addiction to porn is overcome! And, again, it can be done! Keep reading! :)

Happy Marriage vs. Addiction to Porn

So, in healthy marriage, sexual intimacy is a gift. You come away from the experience a better person, more committed to your spouse. You are more compassionate and understanding. You are better able to tackle the challenges of life. You’re empowered to be successful in your important roles a an individual, in your family, at work, in the community—everywhere!

In contrast, with an addiction to porn, viewing it and acting out leaves you with a mental and emotional hangover that depletes your feelings of self-worth. After the rush that produces the temporary high, there is no one to turn to for love and acceptance. You ultimately feel trapped and depressed.

Porn narrows the viewer’s perspective of some of the best things in life and greatly limits his ability to appreciate them. This narrowness greatly distorts his view of reality. Truly, the “benefits” of feeling the release of these natural drugs as a result of viewing pornography is a very, very shallow victory.

A Game Plan

The key to overcoming addiction to porn is to implement a game plan that will enable you to win this battle, a plan that will replace your current habits and desires with healthier and happier ones.

Here’s a game plan that really works, a proven plan that can set you up to win. You or your loved one can be on the road to freedom from porn addiction today.



For more help on overcoming pornography addiction, click here: Overcoming Porn Addiction.

As we’ve seen, the repeated viewing of pornography becomes an addiction. Engaging in other sexual behaviors intensifies it. Click here for more information about sexual addiction.

For more information on addiction recovery, click here: Addiction Recovery.

Return to Porn Addiction: The Problems with the New International Pastime.


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