ways to quit porn addiction

Why and How to Quit Porn Addiction

Porn addiction is real and thanks to some dedicated researchers in neuroscience, there is some limited proof to get you thinking. Do not expect medical science to give your proof of all side effects of pornography addiction yet, but you will see enough below to see what you have got yourself into.

For many people, pornography addiction is their individual experience. Others need some convincing to recognize the devil in the porn watching habit. We will refer below various neuroscience studies done on Brain addicted to Porn, but without all its medical jargons for the wider audience. One of the leading researchers in this domain is Gary Wilson who runs scientific research backed site Your Brain on Porn.

Sex is a primal desire, which is central to the very existence of a human being. In the modern post-sexual revolution era, any argument even remotely suggestive of anti-sex is perceived as regressiveness and religious. So make no mistake here- topic here is NOT Anti-sex, it is Anti-porn.

Another distinction must be made between sex addicts and porn addicts. While the former always existed in some number in society, porn addicts are a new phenomenon with a completely different behavioral pattern. Exposure to sex converts a minuscule number into a sex addict. Whereas a big percentage of porn consumer go on to become porn addicts. We will cover more of this below.

With this understanding, let’s begin.

Why Pornography is Not the Same Anymore?

Pornography existed since the early 20th century in the form of the print magazine, movies, books, phone calls etc. But society, in general, had a huge barrier to access those porn materials either at home or outside. If access to them was not easy, people, especially young kids had other barriers to deal with like cost, parental supervision, religious upbringing and above all the moral barrier.

Fast forward to 2000, Internet dished out porn in your very private room completely free of cost. Even the consumption of porn can be made anonymous and invisible. With such a low barrier to entry, the curiosity of young kids about sex can be enough to engage in internet porn. In fact, even drugs have a higher barrier of entry in our society with legal barriers by country governments all over the world.

With easy and free availability, Porn has spread like a wildfire, unchecked and often promoted. Just to give you an idea of the number of Porn users, see the below statistics fetched from Google data. Google provides comparative data on what people are searching on its website.

We wanted to see how much people are searching Health topics as against one internet Porn site – Pornhub. All search terms which Google thinks are health-related comes under the topic of Health. Check the graph below – Blue line represents searches of Pornhub and the red line represents searches related to Health topics.

Why Should I quit Porn

As you can see in the chart above, just one internet site is beating comfortably searches related to Health topic in Google. And do not miss the trend of the blue line represented by Pornhub from 2014 to 2019 – it is going up slowly. We compared many more categories like gambling, finance, travel, beauty with porn, and every time porn beat those categories comfortably.

Ability to consume porn anonymously and invisibly helped create such staggering numbers of Pornography users. And certainly, it is the favorite pastime of a large population in the world.

The worrying part is en-mass consumption by a generation of boys below 13 years. It is so widespread that a set of researchers didn’t find boys below 12 years who are not exposed to porn for a clinical comparative study.

With such large numbers, certain phenomenon follows which is visible in society.

Why do you think such a large number of people wasting their time on the internet which gives them neither Health, Wealth, Relationship, Entertainment- the 4 most important seekings of life?

It is probably (certainly) because sex is a primal desire and people surely feel some sort of gratification through Porn.

The staggering number of Porn users month after month do not come from new additional users. Surely there are drop-offs and new additions. But a big percentage of them keep coming back again and again to their favorite sites – not out of a need for entertainment, but out of a need for sexual gratification.

Dangers and Side effects of Porn

The dangers and side effects of Pornography are not obvious at first, just like slow poison. Slow poison metaphor would probably best describe porn impact because a slowly poisoned person never realizes anything wrong in the body in the short run. It changes your physical, emotional and mental state over a period and you become your lower and inferior self.

The human mind loves reasoning. So instead of making sweeping statements, we will take below 3 approaches.

  • Accounts of self-identified problem porn users
  • Latest and emerging Neuroscience advances into porn impact on brain
  • Connecting the clinical, biological, psychological and sociological studies

1. The Slow Graduation to Become Porn Addict

To take cues from neuroscience, you must understand their terms and language first.

The brain has been observed to operate certain circuits in certain specific regions. When you get motivated, sad, happy, excited – different pathways start to operate with certain chemical changes which are visible in modern diagnostics. The brain also has some sort of “braking system” which translates to “self-control” in lay man’s language.

Any human behaviors which are repeatedly reinforcing the reward, motivation and memory circuitry in the brain are indicative of addiction. If you thought only external substance like drugs caused it, then the latest research shows even pathological overeating, gambling, sex, internet gaming, and porn watching do it.

Porn repeatedly stimulates intensely this reward system in the brain causing people to feel really good and relaxed. Addiction occurs when pleasure/reward pathways are hijacked by the urge for porn watching.

In one of the study, problematic users of Porn (those who self-reported) reacted very strongly to cues of Porn than the normal users. Anything can be a cue for problematic users – even being alone at home, coming across the chair which you used to watch porn and masturbate, or something as suggestive as a mobile/laptop.

This is a slow process and problematic users are sucked into the patterns of the brain and then it becomes a habit – unfortunately now you are a porn addict and more importantly NOBODY KNOWS THAT EXCEPT YOU.

2. Brain Impact of Porn Addiction

This section only covers the scientific data available in various researches. The emotional, physiological and behavioral impacts would be covered in the next section below.

Porn-Induced New Brain Habits

Researchers observed few chemicals released in the human body in the process of sexual activity.

  • Dopamine is released by the brain while doing sex which gives you a sense of pleasure.
  • Oxytocin and Vasopressin also released in the body which help bind a person’s cellular memory to the object or event which gave the person sexual pleasure.
  • Endorphins released in the body helps give a sexual high.

Imagine all this happening in your body WITHOUT the real sexual act? Porn does this effortlessly.

Dopamine isn’t exactly a pleasure molecule, it, in fact, represents a desire. When the brain has an elevated amount of Dopamine frequently, the dopamine receptors decrease. In other words, the brain creates a tolerance toward that amount of Dopamine.

Next time you need more dopamine in that situation to feel that amount of pleasure. This is exactly the reason why Porn users get bored easily with the same pornography material and constantly in the lookout for new kind of material. The same image, the same girl or the same type of sex doesn’t excite anymore. You need a new video, new girls, new fetishes to keep you excited.

Sex induces much more dopamine than new interesting food in the human body. So basically with Porn, you are dealing with the maximum amount of Dopamine rush in the body.

Your brain then tries to beat those level of Dopamine rush by looking for new habits. If nothing found, you go back to Porn but previously unseen ones.

Porn-Induced Brain Changes

One of the most relevant findings in neuroscience was – All addictions create, in addition to chemical changes in the brain, anatomical and pathological changes.

In 2002, a study on cocaine addiction demonstrated measurable volume loss in several areas of the brain, including the frontal lobes. But even more interesting was the finding that even compulsion eating demonstrated the same volume loss in the brain – where the external substance was absent.

Another study showed that the volume of gray matter in a person’s right caudate (in the forebrain) was negatively correlated with how much porn they view. In other words, high-volume porn viewers had less gray matter.

3. The Ultimate Impact on the Being

Once your brain has started on a path for chemical, structural changes, the side effects of porn can be seen in multiple dimensions of life. Researchers are slowly catching up to back up with clinical studies, but you can see multiple accounts of the self-reported Porn users.

  • Erectile Dysfunction: In the decade starting in 2010, there was a sharp increase in the occurrence of erectile dysfunction in sexually active males. Since Kinsey Institute researchers first reported about Porn-induced erectile dysfunction, multiple studies have established this correlation. High exposure to pornography gradually lowers your responsiveness to arousal. Normal partnered sex doesn’t meet the level of excitement needed for the brain.
  • Reduced Libido: This is again one of the most rising sexual dysfunction in this decade. In a 2014 functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, 11 of the 19 compulsive Internet pornography users (average age 25), whose brains were scanned for evidence of addiction, reported that as a result of excessive use of Internet pornography they had “experienced diminished libido or erectile function specifically in physical relationships with women (although not in relationship to the sexually explicit material)
  • Boring Life: Everything else in life becomes boring. Because nothing else can match the dopamine rush of the porn. Not even previously seen ones.
  • Less Intelligence & Self Control: According to a study, researchers found significant exposure to porn reduced gray matter in the areas of the brain responsible for decision making and self-control.
  • Broken Relationships: Porn-watching was linked to infidelity in another study, again American, which found that seeing multiple sexual partners on screen subtly wounds a committed relationship by convincing the watcher that the grass will be greener on the other side, no matter how happy you are with your current situation.

How to Quit Pornography

Only when you are logically convinced that porn is a slow poison in your system, only then a decision and quest on how to quit pornography starts.

Good news is porn addiction recovery is possible. Psychiatry professor Norman Doidge reported in his book The Brain That Changes Itself that removal of Internet pornography use reversed impotence and sexual arousal problems in his patients. Bronner and Ben-Zion reported that a compulsive Internet pornography user whose sexual tastes had escalated into hardcore pornography had sought help for low sexual desire during partnered sex.  Eight months into stop watching pornography revived his sexual life with successful orgasm and ejaculation.

So with definite will power and plan, you can stop porn immediately. But in a way, rehabilitation of drugs addiction is easier than porn addiction. You can not completely withdraw from the cues – in fact, your mobile is always just a touch away. But with that said, the withdrawal symptoms are not as painful as in drugs. So your will power to stay clean matters all the time.

Since this revolution started gaining ground on the internet, you can get support and motivation from online communities trying do the very same stuff like Nofap. While some limited porn addiction help is available online, the bulk of the responsibility lies on you to follow a plan.

And here are some techniques to stop watching Porn.

  1. Be Ferocious: 

No other techniques matter or required if you do this simple thing right. If this simple thing is NOT done right, relapse occurs again and again. And you get sucked into another guilt cycle.

Be extremely ferocious about your decision to stop watching porn. Any half-hearted decision is destined for relapse. If you need more convincing, then look out for all research papers, accounts of problematic porn users, visualize yourself what you are losing out in life. Create a pathological hatred for porn and motivation for life positive.

Here is one 50-year-old gentleman’s comment on ConvenantEyes regarding his regret and hope. You might connect if you are wanting to stop porn. But avoid living a life of regret at all costs if you do not act now. 

My addiction started at the age of 13 when a guy up the road gave me a trsh bag full of porn magazines. The masturbation came at the age of 15. The consuming began in my mid to late 20’s and 30’s with trips to strip clubs and a swingers club. I’m 50 now. My life is pretty much beaten up and so much has been lost. I live alone, in an isolated area. Although I graduated college, I work at a minumum paying job. I have been trying to stop for 8 years now. I’ve taken an addiction class at a church with a friend. It’s getting much better and I’m determined to break free. It’s harder though, not having anyone that I am accountable to. I have to look into that situation more. I truely wish this information would have been available a couple of decades ago. But, I don’t know if I would have read it anyways. I was in deep. I still read up on the effects, the information is so helpful in this battle for the soul, and have no doubts, it is a battle for the soul. The hardest part is when you come out of the fogginess, and your brain clears, you become aware. Aware of all the time that was wasted on this filthy addiction. I’ve heard it said, SIN WILL ALWAYS TAKE YOU FARTHER THAN YOU WANTED TO GO – IT WILL KEEP YOU LONGER THAN YOU INTENDED TO STAY – AND IT WILL COST YOU SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU INTENDED TO PAY. My price was astronomically high, I don’t have much left in my life, but God’s given me one thing to hold on to, hope.C. McBride

Like it was mentioned above, create a pathological hatred for Porn. It does no good to you. Stay away from peers who advocate such stuff. Get rid of anything and everything that disturbs your decision.

2. Get Self Accountability:

Once you decide like hard rock, you need some supporting tools to tackle your weak moments. In those weak moments, you need someone to drag you out of your hormonal rush and compulsive behavior. In those moments, reasonings stop and your weaker self just comfortably submits to a hormone.

The biggest cues to Porn are your mobile and laptop. Life without those tools is unimaginable, but they are the easiest entry point to the rabbit hole.

So use some intelligent porn blocking software on your devices which blocks all the pornography as well as holds you accountable for your online browsing with a trusted friend or partner. You can monitor your internet usage yourself. Self-accountability is your biggest friend in this journey towards redemption.

3. Dodge the Triggers:

Nobody in this world except you would know the triggers that pull you into the erotic world. Carefully identify them. It might be a hot girl over the street, some particular actress, some photo, some TV ads. Dodge them whenever you come across those triggers, and disengage from the further chain reaction.

For example, you saw a hot lady on the street, immediately turn your attention to other objects or persons before the chain reaction kicks in your brain. Turn to next image if you come across a triggering one on your mobile or laptop. skip those particular TV ads.

Get creative to dodge your triggers. Good news is you only need to do it a few times before those triggers lose the power over you.

Do not fight them in your mind. By fighting, you engage them and eventually, you lose. Only by dodging, your mind stops the chain reaction.

4. Cut the Boredom

And finally, cut the boredom at any cost. Boredom is the biggest enemy of porn addicts. Brain hijacks all your will power during a feeling of boredom.

Plan your best activity to fill your time. If you have nothing else do, you would have to fight internally as to why you should not go back to Porn. Internal fighting is the last thing you would want to engage with.

Fill your time with as much activity as possible.

5. Sweating is Nectar

Many would swear by the feeling of it. If you introduce exercise in your daily life, there is a tremendous improvement of the overall mood and it helps to get rid of porn addiction.

In the concepts of Ayurveda, Pitta in the body leaves the system with sweating. With pitta leaving the body, you gain immense control over mind translating to will power. Ayurveda has a lot of insights into this and you can verify this by 2 to 3 days of heavy sweating.

Do not do exercise for the sake of it. Ayurveda clearly mentions profuse sweating helps in flushing out the excess pitta in the body. So do stuff what you like, but remember the end goal is to sweat profusely.

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