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Where to Get Help for Porn Addiction


In this post, we will help you define porn addiction, understand the biology, psychology, and theology of porn addiction, and then share the best resources available to help you break free from porn -- for good! What Is Porn Addiction? Let's break down the terms: Porn -- sexually explicit media, whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal. Addiction -- the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. So, porn addiction is enslavement to viewing sexually explicit media that causes arousal. In years past, one might have argued that viewing porn was simply a personal choice that didn't have any empirical effect on one's body, mind, or behavior. But research is showing that is simply not true. In order to understand porn addiction and its effects, it is important to address the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. Therefore, we need to explore the biology, psychology, and theology of porn addiction. The Biology of Porn Addiction What happens to the body of the porn addict? Or more specifically, what happens to the brain of the porn addict? ​Everything you do with your body is processed through the brain. It is like the "CPU" (Central Processing Unit) of the human body. To wiggle your finger or smell a rose, the brain is vitally necessary. Your brain is full of neural pathways. These pathways are what "carry" bits of information from one place to another in the nervous system. They are formed whenever you learn something new, and they grow stronger the more you repeat that thought or action. So, if you view porn over and over again, you are forming very strong neural pathways that eventually become "unconscious" because of the repetitive behavior. Your brain, in a sense, becomes "hard-wired" for porn. This is why porn addiction can be so difficult to overcome -- biology is powerful! Before you feel hopeless at this news, let me encourage you. New neural pathways can be created that can "override" the old pathways. This is called neuroplasticity. Your brain doesn't have to stay perpetually "stuck" in old patterns of porn-addicted thinking. As you focus your mind on what is true and good and beautiful, you can create new neural pathways that grow stronger than your old "porn pathways." Over time, you can "rewire" your brain away from porn to healthier thoughts and behaviors. One other notable biological aspect of porn addiction is the "feel good" chemical that is released in the brain when viewing porn: dopamine. Dopamine acts like a chemical reward for pursuing thoughts and behaviors deemed pleasurable. In some ways, dopamine could be described as the "want to" drug of the brain that develops an appetite of "craving" the more it is released. Therefore, when you look at porn (or even think about looking at porn) your brain releases dopamine. Simultaneously, neural pathways are carrying bits of information along a "track" reinforcing the behavior. Repetition of this activity strengthens both dopamine release and neural pathway development. Over time, the "craving" for porn biologically intensifies. The Psychology of Porn Addiction While the biology of porn addiction looks at the brain and neural pathways and pleasure chemicals, the psychology of porn addiction focuses on the mind and emotions. What emotional and mental factors play into porn addiction? In years past there seemed to be a pretty consistent psychological model applied to porn and sex addiction: early trauma in childhood followed by an introduction to sexual stimuli, topped off with weak or dysfunctional family relationships. While this model still applies today to many who develop a porn addiction, a new model is emerging: high media consumption reinforced by cultural normalization of porn, topped off with little to no experience with emotional bonding to another person. Research is showing that the ubiquity of consuming digital media is actually reducing our ability to read emotional cues from others (i.e. facial expressions). And when you add porn into this mix, it only magnifies desensitization toward human connection. The mind and heart eventually grow cold and numb. One of the most common refrains we hear from men who attend our Gateway to Freedom 3-day workshop is that porn "numbed out" their ability to feel empathy or compassion or even desire toward anyone. Another psychological factor in porn addiction is shame. Shame is the core belief that your value is equal to your performance. In other words, you are only as good as your behavior. Shame can create a mental "spiral" of thoughts that are highly self-condemning. It's as if there is a perpetual microscope analyzing every minute detail of thought and action. Shame creates a standard you can never live up to. You are never enough, never wanted, never known. Always less than, always left out, always hidden. The use of porn only increases the unhealthy shame thoughts because porn never truly satisfies and therefore reinforces the shame lies. Addiction is a vicious cycle of self-destruction. Porn addiction doesn't just take a toll on your biology, it diminishes your heart and soul, too. Relationships inevitably take a huge blow because of porn addiction. Over half of all divorce cases "involve one party having an 'obsessive interest' in pornographic websites." The psychological, social and familial cost of porn use can be very high. But porn addiction isn't only about biology and psychology. There is also a theology to porn addiction. God cares about how you use the body He gave you. The Theology of Porn Addiction Does God's Word really have anything to say about porn addiction? Yes! Regarding pornography, Jesus said, "Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has committed adultery in his heart." (Matt. 5:28) To look with "lustful intent" fits the definition of porn: "whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal". Jesus said this is a sin of the heart, not merely behavior. Pornography is not only about behavior ("biology"). It is an invitation to draw your heart away from what is true and good and beautiful, and instead incite you to lustfully devour with your eyes the flesh of fellow image bearers of God. Elsewhere the Apostle Peter said: "...For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved." 2 Peter 2:19b This clearly fits the definition of addiction: "the state of being enslaved to a habit." God did not create us to be enslaved to our sexual urges and desires. His design was that we be free to love and be loved in the expansive boundaries of His created order. Sexual expression is reserved for the context God designed: covenant marriage. Freedom from porn addiction is not merely about tweaking brain chemistry (biology) or seeing a therapist (psychology); your sexuality is a deeply spiritual thing because God created it. Your sexuality is a beautiful and wonderful gift from God. You were made male or female on purpose -- with a purpose. God's purpose for your life is not to be addicted to porn, but rather to be whole and fully satisfied in Him. And the good news is you can be! (see below for resources)


Where to Get Help for Porn Addiction


We have looked at the definition of porn addiction, the biology of porn addiction, the psychology of porn addiction, and even the theology of porn addiction.


But now it's time to turn our attention to getting you the help you need to be FREE of porn addiction.


As we have noted in this article, you are made up of body, mind, and spirit. Therefore, in order to get the best help possible for overcoming your porn addiction, you need help physically, mentally/emotionally, and spiritually.


Here are some of the best resources available in each of these categories:


Physical Help for Overcoming Porn Addiction


We recommend you get a check-up with your personal doctor to assess your overall health in light of your addictive patterns. Oftentimes other issues like depression, anxiety, or dual addictions can present alongside a porn addiction.


Here are other resources that might also help you better understand and address the physical side of porn addiction:


Mental & Emotional Help for Overcoming Porn Addiction


For help finding counselors and other professionals skilled in treating the mental and emotional effects of porn addiction, consider these resources:



Spiritual Help for Overcoming Porn Addiction


There is a growing number of resources available for addressing the spiritual needs of overcoming porn addiction. The following links can help you pursue freedom from a biblical framework:


Help for MEN with Porn Addiction


Help for WOMEN with Porn Addiction


For help finding support groups for porn addiction recovery, visit Groups.Bebroken.com or download the Live Free app at LiveFreeCommunity.org.

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