Many hold the opinion that people become addicted to pornography because they are weak, lack moral fiber, or have zero self-discipline. Destructive labels such as these make it more difficult for those with addictions to seek pornography addiction treatment. It is therefore important to understand the nature of pornography addiction.
The Chemistry of Addiction
Pornography isn’t a drug, so how can you become addicted to it? Because, as is the case with drugs, a person does not become addicted to the images they see; they get hooked on the chemicals the human body produces in response to the material they look at.
Pornography addiction generates a surge of dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain. The reliability, speed, and intensity of the release of dopamine influence the likelihood you will develop an addiction. To better understand the chemistry behind the addiction and to learn the tools to overcome addiction, one should commence pornography addiction counseling.
How the Addiction Sets in
Why is it that someone can’t stop viewing pornography? It is because their memory creates a powerful association between pornography and the consequent dopamine surge, driving them to return to pornography over and over.
A first-of-its-kind study published in September 2013 by the University of Cambridge demonstrates the role of memory when it comes to pornography addiction. Through MRI scans, it was discovered that when compulsive pornography viewers are exposed to porn, their brains “light up” and become stimulated in the same way as an alcoholic who sees an alcohol advertisement.
How the Addiction Escalates
The excessive amount of dopamine that floods the system when viewing pornography overwhelms the receptors in the brain. How does the brain cope? Over time, it produces less dopamine or gets rid of dopamine receptors altogether. A tolerance is developed, so to speak, making it harder to get the same “high”. This can lead to a person feeling compelled to expose themselves to pornography more and more just to get the same effect, in spite of any associated pain or guilt.
However, with desensitization, one also runs the risk of not only needing more, but also requiring different stimulation. This opens the door to a host of other possible problems, such as sexual dysfunction with a partner, or the need to act out extreme scenarios inspired by the pornography one has viewed.
Seek Pornography Addiction Treatment Early
There is no rule of thumb when it comes to addiction, which makes understanding addiction deeply complex. Pornography addiction treatment varies from person to person, and it is essential that those who find they have a compulsion to view pornography seek pornography addiction counseling at the earliest possible moment.