Updated: Sep 1, 2022
I don’t know if I’ve met anyone that came limping into recovery that wasn’t carrying multiple addictions with them. I wasn’t any different.
Roughly 13yrs ago my recovery journey began and a year and a half or so into my recovery I was still hooked on pornography, and I hated it. The shame, the guilt, and hiding in the shadows felt the same in many regards as drug and alcohol addiction did.
Once I finally began to try and face this dark addiction I would sometimes be able to refrain for a week, a month, maybe two months but it would always come back. It felt like I was wearing an invisible jacket that was filthy and stunk of B.O. when I was actively looking at pornography.
One may ask, what does sexual addictions have to do with drug and alcohol addictions? Far more than one might realize.
Recent research on this subject gives us some good insights into how porn addiction and drug and alcohol addiction are very similar in their effects on the brain and body.
In 2013 a Documentary was released called, “Porn on the Brain.” The documentary cites, “Cambridge University Study: Internet porn addiction mirrors drug addiction.”
In the same way that drugs and alcohol activate feel-good chemicals in our brain and body, so does porn. Our brain and body go wild with “feel-good chemicals” when pornographic images hit the mind and light up the brain, and these “feel-good chemicals” that are released are the same ones that drugs and alcohol release into our brain and body.
Watching porn releases dopamine in the part of the brain responsible for our emotions. This is why many people that have subjected themselves to porn often have trouble communicating their emotional state to their loved ones. Norepinephrine is also activated, which increases alertness and focus, followed by a crash in energy.
Viewing porn also triggers the release of oxytocin, the love hormone. This is why many people that struggle with porn have a hard time maintaining long and healthy relationships. When someone engages in an unnatural activity (watching other people act out sex is not natural) it tricks our brain. Oxytocin is a healthy chemical that helps us bond with people we love. Well, when our brain starts to register a release of oxytocin by viewing porn our brain gets tricked into thinking that cheap sex is what real love is all about.
Watching porn also releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer. And, of course, watching porn also causes the feel-good chemical serotonin to be released. Serotonin is the main hormone that stabilizes our well-being, mood, and happiness. When someone creates the habit of viewing porn to activate this natural "feel-good chemical" we form a way of thinking that tells us that we need to watch and engage in unhealthy and unnatural sexual acts in order to feel good.
The effects of porn can go a step further and darker. What do serial killers Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, David Berkowitz, and more all have in common? Every single one of them went on record to state that their porn addiction fueled dark and violent fantasies that led them to dark and violent actions. Why? Because it's never enough, once that door is open the addiction just gets darker and heavier.
The porn industry is also a business, a huge business as a matter of fact. "Worldwide pornography revenues were $100 billion annually in 2010. This is more than the combined revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple, and Netflix. In the U.S., the porn industry makes $13 billion annually. That is more than the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association combined." -Dr. John Foubert
My addiction to porn got its hooks in me during the same window of time that the drugs and alcohol did. I remember the first time I was introduced to pornography. I was about 14yrs old. A group of us were at a friend's house and we had just smoked weed.
His father had a collection of pornography magazines and my friend pulled a bunch of them out, and we all started looking through them. That seemingly innocent act of sexual exploration left me addicted for the next 13yrs.
Fast forward 13yrs and there I was a little over a year into my journey of freedom from drugs and alcohol and I was still addicted to pornography. Many people wouldn’t see a problem with that, but as I sought God more and more this filthy and repetitive behavior didn't feel right anymore. It made me feel like active drug and alcohol addiction did in many ways.
What I didn’t know at the time was that watching porn fired up the same brain chemicals as drugs and alcohol, and brought about the same feelings of shame, guilt, and remorse. It felt far too familiar, always hiding and “feeling good” for a short period of time followed by quickly feeling gross thereafter.
This wasn’t God’s intention for my life. I prayed and prayed and wanted it gone with everything in me, but it would always creep back into my mind and actions. It was when I started talking with other men about it and relentlessly praying that God (as He always does) brought victory.
Then an encounter with God changed my life. As I lay in bed one night after another day of sobriety those dark whispers began to speak to my heart. Thoughts of sex and pornographic images started shooting across my mind like broken reels in an abandoned movie theater.
I lay there dreading what I was certain was coming next. Up until that point, even with all my praying and calling out to God for help to defeat this demon, I was defenseless when this onslaught targeted me. I didn’t have the power to defeat this on my own. I lay there trying to fight off the idea of “feeling good” for a moment, only to be followed by feeling disgusting until I fell asleep and into the next day.
At that moment the only thing I could think of was to get on my knees and plead for help from above. So I crawled out of bed with images flooding my mind, and my brain and body screaming out for a shot of “feel good” chemicals, and I got on my knees on the end of my bed. What happened next was glorious, and unexpected.
As I knelt there on the floor in my little room praying, time froze for a moment. All of the sudden, God showed up.
I was pleading for freedom. I was pleading for help. I was pleading for strength. I was just pleading, period. “Help me, God,” I was internally screaming. And at that moment it felt like someone was standing over top of me and began steadily pouring a giant pitcher of warm oil over my head.
I could feel the warmth drip down my whole body as it made its way to my feet. It probably lasted 10-20 seconds, but it seemed like it lasted 10-20 minutes. Tears of freedom pushed their way through my closed eyes as my whole body felt lighter and stronger.
The images ceased and being a slave to the dark master named porn left my life that night. It hasn't returned.
If you are fighting this battle, don't be ashamed. Millions of men and women are fighting the same battle. Know this though, God can and will set you free. Keep seeking help, keep praying, and keep believing that God loves you and wants this gone from your life even more than you do.
3 Keys For Breaking Porn Addiction Off Your Life
1- Get help
James 5:16 "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." (ESV) Bring it into the light and get help and prayer from someone that lives free from this addiction.
2- Believe God can and will do it
In my pursuit of freedom, I never stopped praying and believing that God wanted that addiction gone from my life and that He could do it. James 1:6 "But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (NASB) God loves you. He wants you free more than you want to be free. Keep pursuing Him and keep pursuing His freedom. He will do it!
3- Get back up if you fall
Proverbs 24:16 For the lovers of God may suffer adversity and stumble seven times, but they will continue to rise over and over again. But the unrighteous are brought down by just one calamity and will never be able to rise again. (TPT) There were times when I'd fall into the temptation of viewing porn, and I'd pray right after and keep on praying. I just didn't stop praying and believing until it was gone.
My experience is most likely not going to be your experience, but God will do for you what He did for me. God is going to do it for you, don't give up!
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