Porn Addiction: Why It’s So Difficult For Men and Women To Stop

Why is it hard for men and women to stop using porn?

Many people, especially if they’re followers of Jesus, think that stopping pornography is as simple as making up one’s mind. In an ideal world that would that work, but unfortunately, that would be like saying, “Why don’t you just stop angry outbursts or feeling anxious? Why don’t you just stop worrying about things? Come on! Be serious about it.” Most people would fail with that approach alone.

The reason it’s so hard to stop using porn is that porn has a naturally addictive quality built into it.

When the brain sees pornography it reacts as though it’s actually having a sexual experience. It releases all the chemicals that a brain would normally release during a sexual encounter including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These chemicals work through the body and cause it to feel relief from pain, to feel contentment, and a degree of euphoria. God created us to feel these things when we have a sexual experience with our spouse. Porn not only creates these feelings but supplies us with a never-ending library of the most beautiful women in the world.

With porn, you can subject yourself to something new every minute of every hour and never run out. This novelty is exciting and euphoric as well. The brain has this ability called neuroplasticity where it changes and adjusts to different circumstances. When a person subjects themselves to thousands of porn images they actually grow new brain tissue and other parts of the brain begin to atrophy.

The brain develops new neural pathways that spread these pleasure chemicals throughout the brain and the body. That in itself is an addictive experience.

Porn usage leads to a very real addiction to drugs, but not the kind of drugs we ingest. Instead, porn users become addicted to drugs that are manufactured within their own brains. These have the same kinds of power as morphine or cocaine. This makes it really difficult to break the habit because it feels very physical as well as emotional and spiritual. This doesn’t mean we’re helpless or that we can’t do anything about it. It just means we’re going to have to learn a whole new level of discipleship to break free of porn and that always involves bringing at least one other person into the equation.

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