Like a drug, pornography alters the brain, creating a need for a level of stimulation that healthy marital sex doesn’t always provide. It sets us up to have a distorted view of sex and to suffer from a desire that can’t be satisified. Why do we turn a blind eye to this? Is it because we don’t think it is a problem? Is it because of our own porn use? Maybe we feel hypocritical setting boundaries for our children that we can’t even hold ourselves too?
If this is you, we want you to know it isn’t too late to protect yourself or your children. There is hope for you.
You need to admit your porn watching to someone. If you are married, we highly recommend telling your spouse (if they doesn’t already know), even if it causes hurt feelings. Secrets keep us enslaved. When secrets are brought into the light, the ugliness is exposed. Face it and own it. This is the first step toward being free. However, before you talk to your spouse, talk to a counselor, wise friend, consistory member or minister. You may need help in dealing with the potential aftermath.
When a person watches porn, neurotransmitters called dopamine flood the brain (which is a lot like what happens during heroin use). When the doses are too high, as is the case with habitual porn viewing, the brain adjusts to restore balance by reducing the amount of dopamine available. This causes a decrease in the pleasure a person can experience while viewing the same amount of porn again. So users need to consume more and more porn and potentially more graphic images to experience the pleasure they had before.
Lower dopamine levels also can make us feel depressed, causing us to go back to porn for stimulation. It is a cycle. But when we quit watching porn, the brain can readjust and correct its dopamine levels. And that only happens if we break the cycle first, by not feeding the appetite. In time, the appetite will decline by not feeding it. The most difficult days are in the beginning. It will gradually get better.
You can’t do this alone. And great news—you aren’t alone. Find a group of like-minded people who you can meet with regularly and with whom you can be completely honest. Make sure it’s a group that values accountability and encouragement. Find people who will be real with you and pray with you about it. Search for porn addiction support groups or seek out organizations with programs in your area. Another alternative, done preferably in conjunction with a support group, is one-on-one counseling. A licensed therapist can provide specific coping techniques to use when the urges come calling, can act as another level of accountability, and can uncover unseen triggers.
The key to a full life is found in relationships. Porn alienates us from one another and causes relational difficulty. It trains our brains to live in a fantasy world, rather than connect with real human beings. Selfishness is nurtured because porn is instant gratification at the expense of people being dehumanized. That leads to guilt, loneliness, and isolation. It is short-term exhilaration with long-term lower quality of life. Intimacy takes effort, patience, and investment, but the reward is abundance. Relational intimacy refines selflessness and the ability to love. Quitting porn is a choice for more. Commit to that choice every morning, every hour, and every evening.
Source: All Pro Dad: How to Quit Porn
How do I know I’m Struggling?
1. You Can’t Stop – You are unable to stop using or viewing pornography, despite trying to do so. If you can’t stop, you may notice that you are spending more and more time on the internet despite others’ attempts to communicate with you.
2. You Want More – You may experience cravings to view more, or feel cravings if you have gone without porn for any amount of time. You may find yourself sneaking away from your partner to another room. It’s possible that you’ll give an excuse or get defensive when questioned about your behavior.
3. You’ve Lost Time – You may lose large periods of time to viewing porn, wasting most of the day without accomplishing anything. You could notice that you’ve become lethargic and haven’t accomplished much as of late. You might seem like you don’t care or that you are very uninterested in anything else.
4. You’ve Lost Interest In Intimacy – If you’re addicted to porn, you’ll likely lose interest in real intimacy. Not only that, but you may find your partner less attractive than you did before. You might become unresponsive to romantic advances from your partner. This can cause your partner to view you as distant or even uninterested when they try to engage with you.
5. You’re More Demanding – A porn addiction may cause you to develop some unrealistic ideas about intimacy. You might become more demanding in the bedroom, find yourself easily frustrated, and/or begin alienating your partner. When this happens, your partner can feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable.
6. You’ve Lost Attraction – Porn addiction can give you unrealistic expectations of beauty for your partner. This can make your partner feel hurt about their appearance and create a greater problem for their self-esteem.
7. You’re Losing Money – It’s possible that you’ve started spending money for what you consider higher quality content. When this happens, you can quickly begin falling into some kind of financial hardship. This can manifest as your complaining more about money problems but being unwilling to disclose the exact nature of these problems.
8. You’re Distracted – If you find yourself distracted from different aspects of life, it might have something to do with porn addiction. Your mind might drift to porn when you’re with friends, family, or coworkers. This can significant impact personal and professional life. It can make you distant from your partner and their attempts to connect with you.
9. You’re Angry – Like with any addiction, if you can’t stop using porn, you may become easily irritable when it’s not available. You may find your patience wearing thin, especially with tasks you view as obstacles to porn use. This can also make it easier to lash out at your partner, who could notice major changes in your personality and feel that you’re not the same person that they had loved before.
Break the Cycle
The challenge is to recognize that you in fact have a problem, and you are stuck in a pattern that makes you feel powerless. You may be searching for a formula of easy steps to break free from it, unfortunately it’s not that easy. While the entire process is going to be different for everyone, here are some helpful steps you can take towards breaking the cycle:
- Tell Someone. You need to share your struggle with someone. Telling someone isn’t about shaming or punishment. You don’t share so they can be disappointed in you; you share so someone knows and can help you stop. Anonoumous sharing is also not the answer, you need to talk with someone who knows and cares about you.
- Make it Inconvenient. We literally carry it in our purses and back pockets. It’s right there, all the time. Only you know how and why you access porn so make note of your normal patterns. Enable restrictions on your phone, install an internet filter, don’t have a device in your bedroom and use technology in public spaces.
- Note your triggers. Triggers can be emotional/mental or environmental and are something that drives you to pornography. Once you’ve talked with someone and made porn inconvenient to consume, you will have a better idea of what drives you to pornography. It becomes less of a habit and more of a conscious decision.
- Pray. It is a unique struggle as you can lock yourself in a room with no Internet or book and still struggle with pornography in your mind. This may be the hardest and longest habit to break! Call out to God that He may give you grace to free yourself from unwanted thought.
- Reconnect. We make the mistake that we can only reconnect our relationships after we are completely free from pornography. Don’t isolate yourself from the very people who can help you heal.
Start Your Journey
Fortify is for both men and women, providing science-based support for lasting healing from sexual compulsivity. Fortify is designed to equip individuals struggling with compulsive pornography use – young and old – with tools, education and community to assist them in reaching lasting freedom.