Understanding the Nature of Addiction


addiced brain

Beating an addiction to Internet Porn is tough.  The relapse rate among recovering porn addicts is very high.  It’s unusual to find any amount of long-term abstinence in the “S” meetings.  This can give way to feelings of hopelessness and despair about ever being able to get the monkey off your back.

With that in mind, I’ll be writing a series of posts about understanding relapse and learning to incorporating a strong set of relapse prevention skills into your Sexual Recovery Plan.

The Disease of Addiction

“Addiction” is a condition in which a person develops a bio-psycho-social dependence on any mood-changing substance or experience.  An addiction causes a person to use a drug or behavior for short-term gratification.  But there is a high price to be exacted.  Addiction satisfies immediate needs for gratification but creates long-term pain and discomfort.  Addiction is accompanied by obsession, compulsion and loss of control.  When not engaged in the behavior, the person is preoccupied with using again.  He thinks about, plans and looks forward to using again.  This is the obsession.  Using interferes with living, but there is a compulsion to give way to the irresistible impulse to engage.  An addicted person uses to relieve the pain created by using.  Thus the continued engagement in the “erotic haze” leads to continued engagement in the “erotic haze”.  This is addiction.

Lack of the Freedom to Choose

Addiction is distinguished from use and abuse by the lack of freedom of choice.  Using the mood-altering experience of viewing porn.  Addiction, however, is a condition that robs a person of choice and dictates the frequency, the quantity and the nature of use.  All addiction begins with use, but all use does not lead to addiction.  In fact, only 10% of the people who view Internet porn become addicted.

Addiction is a physical disease.  It is properly classified with heart disease and diabetes as a chronic illness that produces long-term physical, psychological and social damage.  We’ve already addressed the issues surrounding the abuse of one’s own brain chemicals as a primary cause of Internet porn addiction.

While addiction is primarily a physical syndrome, it is affected by and affects all areas of a person’s life.  For this reason we call addiction a bio-psycho-social illness.  “Bio” means biological or of the body.  “Psycho” means psychological or of the mind.  “Social” refers to relationships among people.

The study of brain chemicals that affect the transmission of messages by nerve cells is advancing the understanding of addiction.  But the answers give rise to new questions.  The process of chemical action in the brain is very complex, but it is clear that the brain chemistry of an addicted person is different in a non-addicted person.

People begin viewing porn for psycho-social reasons.  The “erotic haze” makes them feel good (a psychological reason) or because the “guys” do it (social reasons).  At some point, people become addicted for physical reasons.  They develop tolerance; it takes more time spent in the “erotic haze”, more novelty, more risk, more deviance to give them the same rush they got in the beginning of use.  This leads to dependence.  The body comes to need the particular effect of certain combinations of endorphins and chemicals (spikes of dopamine).  Absence of these chemicals will result in physical withdrawal causing intense, uncomfortable feelings of distress.

The more people use the state of sexual arousal to feel good, the less they learn to use healthier, more effective ways to cope with feelings, situations and people.  They do not use, or forget to use, other methods of coping.  Dependence then becomes psycho-social as well as physical.  All areas of life are affected.

The tragedy of Internet porn addiction is that it inhibits a person’s growth and development.  The addict becomes developmentally “stuck” at an adolescent phase of living and fails to achieve the rewards of psychological maturity.

http://www.sextreatment.com

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One thought on “Understanding the Nature of Addiction

  1. […] Understanding the Nature of Addiction (porn-no-more.com) […]

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