About 83 percent of pornography addicts are men, and one in three is a woman. The largest users of online pornography are 12 to 17-year-olds. Teenagers. Fifty-six percent of divorces involve one spouse with a pornography addiction (mind-armor.com). Yes, addiction—not just viewing for recreational pleasure, but viewing it because it becomes a compulsion and the addict can’t think of or do anything else.
Do you think you, your spouse, or someone else you know might be addicted to pornography? Following are the five stages of a pornography addiction:
1. Early exposure. As was stated, the largest users of online porn are children ages twelve to seventeen. Most boys have a curiosity about the opposite sex and, unfortunately, think they can learn more about them on Internet porn sites. They yield to the enticement offered by non-human, unemotional contact. Unless they can navigate away from this temptation, they are seduced. There are new statistics that teenage boys are being diagnosed with erectile dysfunction due to advanced pornography abuse.
2. Addiction. Addiction takes place when the initial naïve curiosity turns into a physical dependence for this degenerate type of sexual arousal. In a pornography addiction, the habit-forming “substance” is explicit sexual material. To satisfy the addiction, the addict relies on the Internet, DVDs, uses his smartphone or looks at magazines or books.
Using porn increases to more than recreational exploit. The addict loses control of his or her thoughts in pursuit of the drug. The images establish themselves in the brain and are hard to shake for visually-wired males. Porn is needed for arousal and is used on a regular basis. Instead of a vein or a lung, the substance is taken in via the eyes directly to the visual cortex in the back of the brain, releasing neurochemicals like dopamine and endorphins, producing a “high.” All addictions share the same brain changes.
"Constant novelty, at the click of a mouse, can cause addiction," said Gary Wilson of TEDx, in "The Great Porn Experiment." Dopamine rewards you for seeking the visual pleasures porn presents. It makes you feel good. The brain chemicals motivate some to repeat this behavior. You keep coming back. You can’t stop. You’re hooked. Because of this chemical release — and the consequences of behavior — pornography addiction is considered to be a form of chemical brain damage. People become dependent on pornography for physical and emotional satisfaction.
3. Desensitization. Just as in any chemical dependency, the amount of pornography the addict previously used is not enough to stimulate these brain chemicals. Dopamine loves novelty. When the reward wears off, the dopamine release declines, therefore pleasure declines, the libido declines, and may cause erectile dysfunction in males. Less gratification leads to the desire for greater amounts of hardcore porn. A vicious cycle reigns. Addicts need to intensify reaching the pleasure points in their brains again, only on a more advanced level.
4. Escalation. The addict desires greater pleasure, expanded novelty, so he or she ups the dose. They pursue pernicious, indecent images from the Internet. Porn has become their drug of choice, and self-medication rises to new levels. Licentious sexual images, urges and fantasies dominate the thoughts. This over-stimulation interferes with the normal balance of the addict's brain chemicals. They now crave extreme novelty. Most viewing is done in secret.
5. Acting out sexually. Acting out is the next stage of escalation. The addict moves from viewing pornography to seeking a real world experience. It leads to risky behaviors, like stealing from joint bank accounts to pay for prostitutes, binge drinking for heightened courage to act out, unexplained anger or promiscuous sex. The latter may, and does, cause STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). Leaving their boring spouses behind, who long ago failed to fulfill sexual gratification, addicted men and women actively seek other live sex partners. If married, the addict will think nothing of committing adultery to satiate the craving for intense sexual novelty. Men will visit prostitutes, women will pick up men in bars or at the gym, or resort to cyber porn (including email, chat rooms, and social media). Chatting with strangers who vicariously satisfy sexual needs behind closed doors is adultery—ask any spouse who is victim of their partner's porn addiction and has acted out in the cyber world. It's emotional adultery and may lead to acting out with live partners.
Depending on the level of graphic, hardcore porn the addict has viewed in order to spiral to the acting out level, some escalate to the deviant sexual behaviors and perversions of rape, child molestation, incest and even murder. Pornography could be considered a gateway drug to severe criminal behaviors.
In Ted Bundy’s final interview on the day of his execution, James Dobson uncovered the knowledge that the impetus of this serial killer’s criminal rampage began with an addiction to pornography which escalated to acting out.
A pornography addiction is about selfishness—getting, taking—not giving, as it would be in a normal intimate relationship with a spouse. The addiction makes it impossible for any emotional or marital familiarity, closeness or love.
The admission of addiction and desire to be rid of it is the beginning of recovery. It's the beginning of renewal, mending of self and relationships. In a perfect world, the addict will crave freedom from the addiction and seek help.
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