Porn Addiction – It’s Real

It’s NOPORNOVEMBER. So, let’s talk about porn. Many people believe that you can’t be addicted to pornography, but you can. That’s what we’re discussing today. (Sources can be found at the bottom of the post. Both articles came from Fight the New Drug. Next week’s post will be less science filled.)

It has long been thought that an addiction can only happen with a substance like drugs and alcohol. But now, in the age of the internet, people are becoming more aware of how online entertainment and processes can be addictive.

Let’s start with the brain and neuron pathways. Repeating a behavior can create a new neuron pathway. The more the behavior is used the stronger that pathway is. But even a strong neuronal pathway isn’t permanent. If a pathway isn’t reinforced it become less strong and eventually disappears.1 That’s the gist of how that works.

Scientists have discovered that the strongest neuronal pathways are created when you’re in a flow, “a deeply satisfying state of focused attention.”1 Have you ever been so focused on something that you loose track of time or aren’t paying attention to your surroundings? If so, you would be in that flow. Have you heard someone say that they’re ‘in the zone’? That’s another example of this flow. Since you have more attention on one thing, you’re creating a good environment for reinforcing that behavior in your brain.

The reward center. “Its job is to motivate you to do things that protect and promote your survival…the way it rewards you for doing those things is by flooding your brain with dopamine and a cocktail of other ‘pleasure’ chemicals each time you do.”2 Not everything that our brain rewards us for is good. Society and culture has changed. Things have become more easily available and new things are available. These newer things can produce the same reaction, but it now may have nothing to do with survival.

When you watch porn, your brain is producing dopamine. That triggers the production of DeltaFosB, which has the job of building new pathways.2 That was something I didn’t know. I remember learning about dopamine in school, but I never knew about DeltaFosB. I’ve taken quite a few classes on addiction to become a certified addition counselor. Surprisingly, they don’t require you to actually know much about becoming addicted, aside from ‘pathways, reward center, dopamine, addiction.’

But back to DeltaFosB. Its nicknamed “the molecular switch for addiction” due to it flipping a switch in your brain if enough is built up, causing changes in the brain that make someone more susceptible to addiction.2 Our brain is this amazing organism, so it of course has a process meant to balance this out. In response to the elevated levels of dopamine, the body produces CREB. CREB acts as a brake system, slowing down the pleasure.2

My mind is imagining a car. DeltaFosB is the gas pedal and CREB is the brake. The more DeltaFosB produced the more likely you will become addicted. Just like the harder you press on the gas the faster you go. With both addiction and going fast, you can lose control. The only way to stop that is by applying the brakes, or CREB. This is probably a horrible analogy, but I write what’s on my mind.

This process with DeltaFosB and CREB may be the reasoning behind why people need to up their consumption of something to get the same effect, also known as tolerance. This can be seen in a few different ways. With drugs, people might change the type of drugs, the way it’s administered, the frequency of use, or the amount of drugs used at a time. When it comes to porn, it might be a change in the type of porn, how often you watch, or how long the videos are. It could also lead some to engage in risky sexual behavior when the screen isn’t enough anymore.

Drug addiction and porn addiction aren’t as different as people think. They impact the brain in basically the same way. The difference is in how the product is consumed. Porn being something consumed visually and auditory lead people to believe that it is vastly different. That, however, is malarkey. Addiction is about how our brain responds to a substance. Its about the physical and psychological dependence and tolerance that is built up.

Porn, it’s a new kind of drug.


References

1 “How Porn Changes the Brain. (2017, August 23). Retrieved November 04, from http://fightthenewdrug.org/how-porn-changes-the-brain/

2 How Porn Can Become Addictive. (2017, August 23). Retrieved November 04, 2017, from http://fightthenewdrug.org/how-porn-can-become-addictive/

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