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The Intricacies of Porn Addiction: Necessary Knowledge to Overcome

The Intricacies of Porn Addiction 

The slogan “fight the new drug” has become increasingly popular, for which I am incredibly thankful. Yet, I also know that awareness and a list full of porn’s consequences is simply not enough to save people from this addiction. I also personally know how this “drug” can seemingly feel like an unconquerable enemy. So, I write this piece because after years of fighting, I believe that I have found the solution to its mortification. But before I go any further, I also want to let the reader know in advance that what I have found is not an overnight cure. Why? Because this problem is not just a matter of habit and self-control; it is mainly a matter of the heart.

First of all, it needs to be understood what is taking place. The better you understand your enemy, the better chance you will have for defeating him. It needs to be understood and noted that addiction to porn will be a battle fought in separate realities. It is physical, emotional, psychological, and of course, spiritual. Until you understand all of these aspects and their lure, you will never be able to truly overcome this addiction.

 

The Physical

The physical part of porn’s addiction is what people seem to focus on the most, which is ironic because it is also the easiest to conquer. Many reading this might think that they are still caught up in this stage, but hopefully I will be able to show you in the next sections that you are actually now dealing with something else completely. But for now, this area of the addiction must still be better understood.

If you still struggle daily, then the most important thing you need to understand is that your brain has become “programed” by continuous, repetitive porn watching. You have shaped and molded your brain into this habit (literally), which is why it can seem almost impossible to resist your urges. The solution is to reshape your brain through new habits. In a sense, you must learn to reprogram your brain to say no, for all it has ever known is an immediate yes.

This physical part of your addiction will take time to master, but can be accomplished with personal self-control. Simple habits such as not watching certain movies, having accountability apps on your computer and phone, and other disciplines will slowly redirect this path you have treaded into your brain. Once you conquer this aspect of the addiction, your next step is the emotional. (Of course, there are other factors that have to do with the physical side of struggling with porn, but I am focusing on the addictive quality, not the temptation.)

 

The Emotional Dependency

Here is where so many of us fall. This aspect of the addiction is when you aren’t necessarily aroused or triggered, but still find yourself wandering to your phone or computer. Why is this so? Notice it is only when we are bored, anxious, depressed, or stressed out that we find ourselves needing to revert to our old habit. This is because porn has become an emotional crutch that we have created when wanting to escape from the pains of life. When you are anxious, bored, or depressed, it is your emotions that scream at you for relief, and your brain then claims it has nothing to go to except what it has always known.

Unfortunately, porn does give immediate relief, (because of the brain’s release of dopamine when watching) which is why people can be glued to their computer for hours. The problem with using porn for relief of anxiety or depression is that porn is one of the very things causing the anxiety and depression. This is why it is called an addiction. The main thing we know to be causing our pain is the very thing we run to to heal us. To escape this cycle of sorrow, the obvious answer is to find something else to lean on during these times of need, you must find something else to run to when life becomes too much to bear.

 

The Psychological

Many people think that it is simply a matter of stoic, brute strength that we must rely on to defeat porn addiction, and this very thought is what keeps us from ever truly conquering it. I don’t care how much self-control you think you can muster, at the end of the day, what you desire most will decide what you choose to do. For example, when you go on a diet, unless your desire to have a beach body is stronger than your desire to eat that delicious doughnut in front of you, you will always end up eating the doughnut. If you want to wake up early to train for an upcoming marathon, your desire to do well in the marathon must be stronger than your desire to sleep in. See the principle? What we desire most is what controls our decisions, and the same goes for moral choices, especially porn.

Which leads us to the root of our problem. No matter how much we think we hate porn, if we are still addicted to it, then deep down we must secretly still be desiring it. Remember, we will do what we desire most, and if over and over we find ourselves watching porn, then the conclusion must be that we secretly still desire it more than we realize.

But how could this be? When I was trying to quit, I hated the fact that I watched porn. How could it then be that I secretly loved it? I didn’t understand this until I realized it wasn’t necessarily watching porn that I hated, it was the consequence of how it made me feel afterwards. Of course, I hated the fact that I couldn’t quit, and I hated the fact that it was a habit my friends and family look down upon, but in the moment, I am ashamed to admit, I quite enjoyed it. I finally realized that I didn’t necessarily hate watching porn, I simply hated the consequences of it. In the end, this helped me see that my desire to watch porn was significantly greater that my desire to stop.

So what’s next? Well, the bad news is that if you have become addicted to porn, you will probably never completely stop desiring it (at least not anytime soon). But the good news is that it can be beaten, though not how you might think.

The solution is actually quite simple, and once realized, is a huge step in the right direction. If we know our desire will never go away, and if our desires control us, how then can we win? Well, if we can’t simply make ourselves stop desiring something, and if whatever we desire most will control us, then the logical answer seems to be that we must find something we desire more. We must find a light that shines brighter than the one we are being drawn to. Which of course leads us to the last aspect of this addiction, the spiritual.

 

The Spiritual

Timothy Keller always brings up the fact that we all have something in the back of our mind that says “if only I could have “blank”, then I would be happy.” As was stated above, this is what we do with porn whenever we are depressed or anxious. But what needs to be understood here is that whatever we put in that “blank” is, in the moment, what we care most about in life, making it what we “worship”. Why? Because anything that humans find that can give us some sort of purpose and happiness (or in this case, something that gives us a sense of being in control), will always become what we crave most in life, and what we crave most in life becomes what we worship. Therefore, whatever we put in that blank becomes our god, making it our master, and whatever is your master will control you. This applies not just to porn, but to anything in our life that the bible calls “over-desires”.

Why do you think we are such slaves to porn? Why do you think it controls us, why do we obey it, even when we know it is slowly killing us? Because whatever it is we think we need in order to keep us happy is what we idolize, and what we idolize we end up serving, whether we realize it or not. One moment it might be porn and the next it might be work or money—the possibilities are endless. No man is his own master, we are all slaves to what we crave most in life. So what is the logical conclusion here? Find something else to put in that blank. Find something else that will complete you and make you happy. Find a better master.

 

Application

So, one must find something else to lean on to defeat the emotional, find something one desires more to defeat the psychological, and find a new “master” to defeat the spiritual. Well, this is a Christian blog after all, so yes, it would make sense that what happens to fit all three criteria is Christ. Which, let’s be honest, if you are addicted to porn, this is the last thing you wanted to hear. But don’t shoot the messenger, I am simply telling you this so you don’t have to learn the hard way. Truth doesn’t change based on how you feel about it. 

Of course, the first objection one might have is why it has to be God? Why can’t it be other good things, like a spouse or friendship. Well, you can try, but anything that you try and replace God with in this arena simply will not do. Don’t misunderstand me, we do need to love, lean on, and desire other good things (like friendship, exercise, or art), but the part we get wrong is when we lean on and desire them more than Christ. I don’t have time to defend this position, but hopefully as Christians we either know this or are painfully figuring it out.

So how do you apply this personally? It will differ from person to person, but the least I can do is tell you what it looked like in my life.

Emotionally – While I used to rely upon music, porn, and entertainment to distract me from the pains of life, I now run to my Father. Instead of ignoring my suffering, I have learned to pray my fears and find my comfort in the presence of God. If I run to entertainment, working out, or music, then I will simply become addicted to them instead. It has to be God. 

Psychologically – When my desires seem like they are too much to handle, I have learned to meditate on what Christ went through in order that I could be set free from them. Instead of focusing on my temptation, I focus on His never ending love which never let me go, even when I shunned His affection and spat in His face. The more I focus on how much He loves me and what He has done for me, the stronger my desire becomes to love and obey Him. Only then does my desire for God surpass my competing desires. Simply put, you will conquer this addiction when your love for God surpasses your love for porn and “liberty”. 

Spiritually –  When this love for God began to be produced within me, I started seeing God as the one thing in my life that I simply cannot do without. He became what I craved most in life, He became my everything. He was always my King, but through this process my heart happily accepted this fact, which led to heartfelt, genuine obedience. In this I have been set free, for He is the King I was made to love and serve, and only when you are living in accordance with your design will you ever feel free. But don’t let this idea of service and love throw you off, He isn’t asking us to do anything He hasn’t already done or us.

This is how I (and many others) have defeated the addiction that some psychologist are saying is more addictive than heroine, for when I found God’s love, my cravings for the pleasure of this life slowly began to fade. In the end, addiction stems from a lack of joy. Make your home where the source of life’s joy flows and you will find your freedom.

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Micah McMeans

Micah McMeans

Micah has been an avid reader, writer and artist since he can remember (though he admits that calling myself an artist is a stretch, and merely claims to draw and paint in his spare time). He is attending the College at Southwestern in the fall as a Junior, where he hopes to satisfy his newly found passions for theology and philosophy.

  • Tom Kirn

    Thanks for the post. I’m going through the same problem and appreciate your witness!

  • Hi.Could you give me permission to translate and use your text at my parish and Diocese? All credits goes to you and ConciliarPost, of course.

    • Micah McMeans

      Of course!! I am honored you would even ask.

      • I thank you. Your testimony will lighten many lives in our community. God bless you.

        • Micah McMeans

          I pray that it does.

  • Matthew Bryan

    Jesus is King! Thank you for the fearless testimony, Micah.

    • Micah McMeans

      Thank you Matthew!

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