Just like addictive drugs alter a person's mental reality so does online porn addiction. Internet pornography is running prevalent in today's society, hooking the young and the old everywhere. This is because of great accessibility. Substance based hard drugs are even harder to obtain compared to accessing porn websites. In the modern age we are literally carrying computers in our pockets, so accessibility is not an issue.
In the US alone, pornography is estimated to generate about 13 billion dollars every year, with 3 billion coming from online distribution. Internationally, the figure is much bigger. Furthermore, research shows that 1 in 5 smart phone web searches are for pornography every second. This means that it is very easy for people to become addicted to porn, as the "drug" is easily available.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Online Pornography Addiction
- Inability to stop visiting porn sites or stop participating in activities associated with pornography, in spite of repeated attempts to curb the unhealthy behavior.
- Having cravings to watch porn. Similar to how alcohol and drug addicts experience strong urges to use alcohol or drugs, porn addicts report experiencing strong urges to view pornography.
- Getting infuriated, irritated or even hostile when told to stay away from porn. Addicts can deny their viewing of porn or get annoyed when family members or friends tell them to stop the negative behavior.
- Keeping the behavior a secret from loved ones. Porn addiction leads to more secrecy in relationships.
- Feeling guilty or ashamed due to porn use and working hard to hide the behavior from other people.
- Continuing to watch pornography in spite of the negative consequences such as strained relationships or loss of a job. In relationships where one partner is a porn addict can lead to less intimacy, lower sexual satisfaction, and poor relations in general. Being unable to abstain from viewing porn during work hours can result in disciplinary action or job loss.
- Wasting a lot of time because of porn use. People addicted to porn might spend large chunks of time visiting porn sites. This may result in pornography becoming a priority over everything else.
- Men who are addicted to porn can suffer from severe ejaculation dysfunction as well as delayed ejaculation.
- Concentration problems are common in both drug and non-drug addictions.
- Lack of motivation to do constructive things.
- Reduced interest in actual partner. Watching excessive porn can make the person more interested in artificial representations of people instead of being intimate with a real person.
- Needing to view more explicit porn to achieve the same thrill. A person becomes tolerant to some type of porn, and therefore feels the need to look for more explicit content to gain the same type of satisfaction.
Most of the warning signs are similar to those associated with alcohol and substance abuse behaviors, like isolating oneself from others in order to continue viewing porn, or neglecting important relationships and work due to an urge to watch porn.
If left untreated, this unhealthy behavior will ultimately lead to strained intimate relationships, feeling guilty and ashamed, job loss and money problems. Moreover, the addicted person can face other mental health disorders like substance abuse, and depression.
How Is the Brain Affected?
Similar to how alcohol and drugs affect the normal functioning of the brain, non-drug addictions like gambling, porn and binge-eating also affect the way in which the brain works. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the human brain that is connected to addiction. Any drug or behavior that provides pleasure will normally induce a dopamine rush, which eventually reinforces that activity, making it more likely to happen. In the human brain, the amygdala, basal ganglia as well as other reward centers participate in the reinforcement of the behavior that produces a feeling of pleasure.
Scientists have proven that addiction to porn can alter the brain's neural pathways. The changes are similar to those caused by long-term drug usage. If a person is addicted to pornography, his/her brain will have reduced connectivity between the striatum part and the prefrontal cortex, resulting in poor judgment, inability to make decisions, or loss of control over unhealthy behavior.
Solutions to the Problem
In general, it is clear to see how detrimental online porn addiction is, but let us now focus on some solutions to curb this menace. Scientists have shown that the human brain is wired similar to a computer, meaning it is possible to rewire it. The following are possible ways of overcoming online porn addiction.
No man is an island, therefore if you are an addict and you want to overcome this problem, you should find somebody to be honest with. The person should preferably be of the same sex, wise, caring, tough, and who does not suffer from sexual disorders like you. He/she should be someone you can be free with and help you stay motivated to stop the unhealthy behavior. Your accountability partner can be your best friend, support group, workshop, church resource, or any other person. Opening up to someone can be a difficult step, especially for men, but it is worth it.
Procedure for Talking to Your accountability Partner:
- Call them on a regular basis (like everyday) to check in and be willing to talk honestly.
- Share your honest feelings with them.
- Let them know the lustful thoughts or temptations you have encountered.
- Confess where you have failed to upkeep good behavior.
- Be particular about specific things your accountability partner can ask you to help you curb the addiction.
- Celebrate with them as you continue to make great progress in your journey to recovery.
2. Filter Online Usage
Honestly, it may not be possible to get rid of one's personal computer or smart phone, so the next big thing is to filter the type of online content one can access. There are many effective filters available out there that filter online content, and also monitor every website and search term typed in. A detailed auto report is then sent to a trusted accountability partner such as accountabilitygorilla.
Apart from filtering websites, it is wise to filter online friendships and communication. Unfollowing or blocking some social media accounts can help curb the unhealthy addiction. If some individuals tend to post images that trigger porn cravings, removing them is a smart step. A lot of people get on the right track of recovery, but fail by still receiving stimulating content from social media platforms.
For those suffering from online porn addiction and especially from erectile dysfunction caused by viewing porn excessively, a "reboot" can help. The person needs to unplug his brain from all forms of artificial sexual stimulation including internet porn, social media sites, etc. Basically, the individual should get away from their computer or smart phone and stop watching porn in order to rewire the brain.
Rebooting involves training one's brain to be a participant instead if a voyeur. The aim of rebooting is to seek pleasure from real people instead of digital representations of human beings. Over time, real person pathways in the brain will start to overtake the existing unhealthy pornography pathways. In the end, the person will get dopamine hits from their real-life interactions with other people rather than unhealthy online porn.
To speed up the reboot process, the person should engage in activities like meditation, which are great in engaging the frontal lobes in the brain. This will help strengthen the individual's willpower to overcome unhealthy behavior, and options like exercising and physically socializing with real people will be more appealing.
4. Experience the Consequences Before they Occur
Whenever a person feels the urge to view porn, they should walk away from their computer or smart phone and sit in another room. They should close their eyes and focus on the feeling they normally get after viewing porn. The post-viewing feeling is usually one of tiredness, disappointment, disgust, guilt and shame. Getting into a habit of doing this can go a long way in curbing the unhealthy temptation because one knows that engaging in such behavior is not worth it.
5. Challenge Yourself to Engage in Other Interesting Activities Instead
In the fight against porn addiction, the patient should learn to participate in other useful activities instead of wasting their time on porn. They can look into furthering a career, playing a musical instrument, hanging out with friends and family, exercising, taking a dance class, cooking, viewing the history channel or any other productive activity. There are only 24 hours in a day, therefore instead of wasting time worrying about watching porn or feeling guilty, the addict should begin concentrating on what they really want to do with their time.
If your online porn viewing has gone out of control and is interfering with your normal life, the most important first step is to admit that you have an issue. Just like drug addiction, porn addiction is a serious health problem that should not be taken lightly. Instead of tackling the situation on your own, you should seek professional help. Once the addiction is curbed, the person gets their "mind back" because the brain is rewired to function normally.
Accountabilitygorilla can help watch over you as an accountability partner. We want to help any person wanting to overcome porn addiction to stick to their resolutions. The internet is full of all sorts of content which affect men, women and children, and overcoming the temptations can be tough. As an accountability partner, we manage the recovering addict's access to passwords for accountability or parental software for however long the person wants. Contact us today to get started on your journey to recovery.