Addiction to pornography works like other addictions in the brain. Norepinephrine is a chemical secreted under stress, arousal, or thrill. Addictive behaviors lower the level of norepinephrine, and so the addict needs more — more often, more intensity, more frequency — to get those levels raised back up to what feels good.
This is why someone addicted to pornography may need to use pornography more and more often, engage in riskier behaviors, become overly-aggressive or even violent with their spouse or other sexual partners, or be unable to enjoy appropriate sexual behavior without these other stimuli.
Pornography addiction changes the brain’s response to sexual experiences and impairs the body’s ability to engage in normal sexual behavior. Here are five tips for beating pornography addiction:
Ask for help
Admitting there is a problem is a good beginning, but you also need help from an outside source — family, friends, a group, online program, or a workbook — because the addiction is inside of you. Using these resources can really help by holding you accountable, and providing much needed support and encouragement. Candeo is an excellent online resource that uses addiction science to confidentially coach people through daily recovery from sexual addictions.
Do something else
Think of three activities you can do before choosing addictive behavior. Call or text three people you can ask for help at a moment’s notice. Write three reasons why you are strong enough to empower yourself to do something else. Make a list of three things you are feeling, instead of hiding those feelings behind addiction.
Identify both your weak spots and triggers that set the addiction cycle in motion. Identify specific coping skills to help with each trigger, and develop strategies for improving the weaknesses. Be honest with yourself and those trying to help you.
Because choosing pornography is usually about finding an external solution to internal problems, be courageous about sharing internal experiences. Emotional responses like sadness or loneliness, or even boredom, are often triggers for pornography use. Address these issues directly, rather than avoiding them. Having a support system or safe person to contact in these moments, enjoying other hobbies, or developing new talents are positive things you can do instead of choosing pornography.
Because pornography addiction is such a deep and internal struggle, you may need external help. Counselors are available to help, the website mentioned above is a good resource, and supportive family members will be glad to do what they can. You may also need to put filters on your smart phones, tablets, and laptops, so that you are unable to access inappropriate content. Addiction recovery groups may also be helpful.
Focus on the good
Make a list of the positive things you are doing right. Look for the reasons you have to do well, like your spouse or children. Develop an attitude of gratitude, finding small ways to sincerely thank those around you for the ways they contribute to your life. Recognize the good ways you contribute to the lives of others. Do the things you enjoy when your life isn’t revolving around addiction.
Giving in to addiction is the process of surrendering your ability to make good choices and impairs your body’s ability to function normally. Breaking a pornography addiction will help reclaim your freedom, empower you to make good choices, and increase your ability to enjoy and appreciate those who care about you.