The information on this page will help you understand why pornography can be so addictive as well as some keys to breaking free. More information can be found on our video page. To learn more about our anonymous, online recovery program, visit our RECLAiM Sexual Health Online Recovery Program page. Spouses can find additional support on our Spouse Support page.
Pornography is the most misunderstood and underestimated drug in the history of the world. And while this drug is not injected or ingested, but enters the brain through the eyes and ears, it is just as powerful and its devastating effects are just as real.
Referring to pornography as a drug is not metaphorical. Internet pornography triggers such a radical flood of neurochemicals in the brain, that it has been compared to cocaine. At the simple click of a button or tap of a screen, we have instant and unlimited access to images that trigger a response in the human brain similar to street drug use.
Pornography viewing triggers the brain into releasing a flood of it's own endorphins and other potent neurochemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. These internal chemicals produce a powerful rush or high very similar to street drugs. People across the globe are turning to pornography as their drug of choice for escape and self-medication because it can be accessed from virtually anywhere; it's often completely free of charge; and it is designed to encourage anonymity and secrecy.
Be In the World, Not Of the World
You can enjoy and take advantage of all the wonderful technology-based tools that surround us without continually falling prey to pornography. Even though we live in an extremely sexualized world, you can RECLAiM your sexual health and live free from addiction.
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Are you suffering from chemical dependency connected to porn use? RECLAiM Online Recovery Program can help you break free.
Common advice to those struggling with pornography or other unhealthy sexual behaviors is, "You just need to try harder!" Those who struggle with pornography use and other unwanted sexual behaviors, have often tried hard to overcome their addiction countless times, only to fall right back into it each time. Why does this happen over and over again? It's not because those with these sturggles are weak, evil, or a lost cause. It's because this specific way of thinking and behaving that has developed over time through repetition--it's because these behaviors have become habit.
An Addiction is a Habit on Steroids
Habit formation is your brain's number one priority. Why? Because the brain's watchword is efficiency. Since the moment you were born your brain has focused intensely on being efficient. And the most effective way to be efficient is through the formation of habits. This is what your brain seeks—to focus its energy and attention on mastering a skill and as quickly as possible make it automatic—a habit. Your brain can then move on to direct its efforts at learning and mastering the next skill.
Engaging in unwanted sexual outlets (porn, masturbation, live sex chat, escorts, paid sex) or even streams of short-term, meaningless relationships can create a great deal of shame, despair and self-loathing. Most struggling individuals don't understand that specific brain processes that have developed their behaviors through specific stages over time.
If you are struggling with pornography, sex addiction, masturbation or other unhealthy sexual behaviors, the following insights can help you better understand how you got here.
Break Free From Porn Addiction Using Your Plastic Brain Podcast ››
In 1997, TimeMagazine published an article titled, "Addicted, Why do People Get Hooked?" It cites some of the "cutting-edge" research in the area of the "brain science" behind addiction. What amazed me is how far we have come since then. Not that what the article discussed has been proven wrong—quite the opposite. The science in the article was dead-on and has been well established and further developed since then.
In essence, the article traces aspects of all addictions to the dopamine system in the brain:
Why do certain substances have the power to make us feel so good? Why do some people fall so easily into the thrall of alcohol, cocaine, nicotine and other addictive substances, while others can, literally, take them or leave them?
The answer, many scientists are convinced, may be simpler than anyone has dared imagine. What ties all these mood-altering drugs together, they say, is a remarkable ability to elevate levels of a common substance in the brain called dopamine...Dopamine, [scientists] now believe, is not just a chemical that transmits pleasure signals but may, in fact, be the master molecule of addiction.