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You don’t view a pornographic video and immediately become addicted. Instead, you watch one video, then you want to view another and another. Pretty soon, you find yourself canceling plans and avoiding responsibilities to spend time watching porn.

Porn is addictive because it impacts your brain very much like a drug does. For some people, this impact is incredibly powerful.

Porn addiction develops as a response to trauma. A person experiences a trauma, isn’t sure how to deal with it emotionally, so they start attempting to cope in any way that makes them feel good.

To understand why porn is addictive, first, you have to understand what porn addiction is. 

What is Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction starts with typical pornography use patterns, then escalates from there. Over time, a person feels drawn to watching porn more frequently. Soon they begin to forgo attending social occasions or shirk responsibilities, so they can watch porn. Over time, dependence on porn spirals out of control, and the person finds they’re unable to stop the behaviors. 

To understand why porn is addictive, knowledge of the causes of porn addiction is critical. 

What Causes Porn Addiction?

Differences between a casual porn user and one with a porn addiction may not be visible. Instead, the differences are deep within their brains and their pasts. 

Trauma of all types, including that which occurs during childhood, causes many addictions. When a person experiences trauma and cannot process it, they try to cope on their own. They try to make themselves feel better. This temporary feeling of relief comes from an activity that releases dopamine.

Dopamine is a feel-good chemical in the brain. The brain releases dopamine when a person does something it perceives as pleasurable. 

This association between dopamine and behaviors is the same thing that causes drug and alcohol addictions. Porn usage triggers the same reward system. It makes you feel good. Those good feelings are the basis for porn addiction. 

When you anticipate watching porn, your brain releases dopamine. As a result, you later recall the experience as pleasurable. The association between the activity and feeling good is what causes a person to repeat it.

Pornography is so addictive because of the amount of dopamine it releases. Also, porn is easier to access than some other addictive substances. With the advent of the internet, pornography is always just a few clicks away. 

When a person watches porn, their brain can’t distinguish between what is on the screen and what’s real. The sheer variety of porn available causes the brain to overload with dopamine.

This feel-good chemical overload triggers a safety response in the brain. It starts to shut down the receptors that make dopamine work. 

Therefore, each time a person uses pornography, they have less of a dopamine rush. As a result, they’re making themselves less receptive to the thing they’re seeking.

The need for dopamine release often leads to an escalation in types of porn consumed or in sexual behaviors. 

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The Difference Between Porn Use and Dependence

Not everyone who watches porn becomes addicted. 

The use of porn escalates over time. It progressively takes up more mental space and time, leading to adverse effects on a person’s life. Porn use becomes an addiction when it negatively affects a person’s ability to function in their daily lives. 

Porn addiction is also known as hypersexuality disorder. Hypersexuality disorder involves compulsive behaviors that involve a myriad of enjoyable sexual experiences that take up an excessive amount of your time. 

The inability to function without pornography is what makes it problematic.

So how do you know if you have a porn addiction or if you just like watching porn?

Signs of porn addiction include: 

  • Spending excessive amounts of time watching pornography
  • Cravings to watch porn turn into all-consuming thoughts
  • Escalating out-of-control compulsive behaviors such as masturbating at work or in public
  • Neglect of relationships and responsibilities
  • Continuing to use porn despite the physical, emotional, or relationship issues it causes
  • Feelings of depression, anxiety, shame, insomnia, or other mental health issues
  • Inability to discontinue use and unsuccessful attempts to stop porn usage.

 

A person who healthily uses porn feels in control of their desires. They have a developed sense of self-worth and lead a life based on mutual respect and understanding. A healthy understanding of sexuality means that a person can establish intimacy with others. 

A person addicted to porn withdraws from their social lives and feels ashamed of their behaviors. They may have an aversion to any form of intimacy with other people in their lives. 

Repercussions of Porn Addiction

The untreated trauma and dependence on dopamine that results in addiction have repercussions. Those repercussions go beyond the addiction itself.

Repercussions of porn addiction include:

  • Relationship Issues. People who are accustomed to watching pornography to regulate their nervous system gravitate toward it. They ignore their friends, family members, and even their partner in pursuit of porn, causing relationship issues.
  • Sexual Dysfunctions. As the brain becomes more desensitized to pornography and similar stimuli, it may result in sexual difficulties. These struggles often lead to low satisfaction with one’s sex life.
  • Mental Health Concerns. People with porn addictions are more likely to develop other mental health disorders, like depression or anxiety. People addicted to pornography become dissatisfied with their lives and embarrassed by their behaviors.
  • Lack of Joy. For habitual porn users, their first thought in stressful times is to turn to pornography. They watch porn instead of doing something that would bring them joy, like seeking comfort from a loved one, exercising, or meditating. This habit makes them less able to experience happiness and true joy. 
  • Normalizing Violence. The normalization of sexual violence goes hand-in-hand with the escalation of porn usage. The majority of pornography features sexual violence. A regularly-exposed person may perceive this violence as typical and even come to expect it in their own lives.

How Begin Again Institute Can Help

At Begin Again Institute, we understand that porn is addictive and how easily this addiction can develop. We also understand how to help you heal from your past trauma and create a successful recovery plan. If you or a loved one may have a pornography addiction, contact us today to see what treatment options are available. 

  • Category: Pornography Addiction
  • By John Squires
  • September 24, 2021

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