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  • Writer's pictureSubham Kumar Paul

“Pornography Addiction is the best thing that had ever happened to me in my life”

First thing, you have got to understand is that addiction is not something you can beat. So you can’t beat an addiction, so if you even like if we use that terminology, there is an opponent, once the opponent is vanquished, it is dead forever. I won the game, the game is over. That’s not how addictions work. Addictions are things that are with you all the time. You never win, you just win the battle today, you can’t ever really win the war, I mean you can, we will get to that later.


But that’s the first thing is that the biggest mistake that people make with pornography addiction is that they try to beat it. And why is that? It’s because people are tired of dealing with it. The desire to beat it comes out of a fantasy of no longer wanting to fight it every day. Working as a psychologist, the worst thing I want is a client who thinks that they have beaten their addiction because that’s when the addiction really trips you up. Your guard is down now that you have won. It is people who have constant vigilance until certain neuroscientific changes are made, that’s really when you conquer it. But for now, don’t try to beat it, try to resist. So, how do you do that? How long does it take to beat a porn addiction? So that too depends on how many factors are there driving you towards porn and how many factors are driving you away from porn?


Mechanism

So for example, if you use pornography as an antidote to boredom, as long as you are bored, you will have an interest in pornography. As long as you use pornography as an emotional regulation technique, as long as your emotions are disturbed, you will lean towards pornography.

So this is where we really need to do is understand, ok there is a dopaminergic signal, there is an emotional signal, there is an emotionally suppression signal and there is a component like, brain is like, if you are not doing anything today, at least let me get that hit of dopamine.

The reality of overcoming pornography addiction is not addressing the addiction directly which there is a part of that. It is really an understanding of what are all the risk factors that are contributing to pornography addiction, That’s what we try to do when we do addiction therapy. So there is this substance itself, let's use an example of alcohol. The whole act of not taking a drink but then there is also what goes into that, which is, ok let's do psychotherapy to understand why you started drinking in the first place, let's understand what your triggers are, let's understand all of the para alcoholic behaviour. And the problem that I see, a lot of people struggling with pornography addiction is that a lot of clinicians don’t specialise in it, they don’t really understand how it works and secondly, they don’t fix all of the environment, right? So, for example, a big part of overcoming alcohol addiction is changing your community. So if you go hang out with your friends, you go to the bar, or you go hang out with the friends who are a part of the frat, you are going to drink. So, if you want to overcome the alcohol addiction, you have to find new friends.


But what’s the community of pornography? The community of pornography is loneliness. So it is very difficult. You can tell an alcoholic not to go to a bar. It is far harder to tell a pornography addict to no longer be lonely. This is why pornography addiction is skyrocketing. Sure, things are getting more into the supernormal stimulus realm which is an exaggerated version of a stimulus in which there is no existing response tendency, or any stimulus that elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which it evolved, but really its that what’s the community of pornography. It’s the community of loneliness. And so when we see really good outcomes within people who overcome pornography addiction, they have meaning in their lives and they have more community and that’s very difficult to do.


So what is the Bar of pornography?

So, the bar is the physical location where you go to drink. Where do you watch pornography and where do you masturbate? Usually at home, right? Those people who don’t do it at home are the ones that wind up on sex offender registries, wind up in jail, that kind of things. And so how do you get out of your house? This is why pornography addiction is so bad today. Easier to access, ubiquitous, super normal stimulus, emotionally unregulated population. So what we are doing is our brains are getting worse and worse at emotional regulation. You see that with all Kardashians on the internet, you see that with people posting all this toxic stuff, misogyny and all this kind of stuff. Every corner of the internet is filled with just negative emotions and then you have safe spaces that are just venting or vomiting all of this negative emotion constantly and so the world is becoming more emotionally dysregulated and so what is our silver bullet? What is the main silver bullet when it comes to emotional regulation? Pornography. It’s not a controlled substance so you don’t have to get it prescribed by someone for you, it's not illegal, so I don’t have to hang out with a drug dealer. It doesn’t cost me my rent usually. There is whole other aspect of ‘Only Fans’ and parasocial relationships that we not going to get into.


So imagine if heroin was like, freely available on the internet and you don’t have to pay for it, right? what would its use be like if just everyone would have that equipment in their own homes?

So if you look at any addictive substance, it gives pleasure and it takes away pain. And porn does that very well, right? Porn is the one addiction that accesses the one function that accesses all parts of our brain. I will give you an example of this. So I was trying to figure out what part of the brain pornography affects. All of them, the reward system, ok? Like basically your whole brain. See like, for example, when we look at alcohol addiction, we literally have pills you can take for alcohol addiction, things like Naltrexone and what it does is that it goes to the area where the alcohol binds to a receptor in your brain and it blocks that binding. So we can literally give you a pill that will block the effect of alcohol on the brain. We also have medications like Disulfiram. Disulfiram is a devious medication. When we drink alcohol, there are two steps in the metabolism of alcohol. So it turns from A to B and B to C. A is ok and C is ok. But B is toxic as shit. So we give a medication that blocks the conversion from B to C and this metabolite builds up and makes people violently ill. So if you take a Disulfiram pill and you drink alcohol, you will be violently ill. So, we can do this when it comes to a substance. We can literally give you a pill that can make you ill if you drink alcohol but when it comes to pornography, it affects the whole brain, all of the neurotransmitters. And so it's hard to like fix it just like this. And that’s why the treatment for overcoming pornography addiction is so much more holistic, right? It involves emotional regulation, finding purpose, finding meaning, and hopefully having a healthy sexual relationship.

Another thing we understand with pornography is that it’s not even about sex. It’s not about relationships or lust or anything like that. Many of the people that I have worked with pornography addiction, I don’t know about the majority, usually get exposed to pornography prepuberty. So even before their brain knows, they are not aroused by it at all, they get this super normal stimulus in their developing brains which then shapes their brain to be vulnerable to pornography later in life. And we know for example that marijuana is a gateway drug. Why is it a gateway drug? Because it alters the parts of our brain that then become more vulnerable to addiction. So it alters the structure of our reward circuitry and once you alter the structure of your reward circuitry, now you can have a huge vulnerability to addiction, which is what we see in marijuana in developing brains. And so with pornography, this is what tends to happen. I have noticed that the more the younger you are when you get exposed to pornography, it appears the higher the risk is, although I don’t have data to back that up, that’s just from my practice. You may be nowthinking that,


“Subham, I am doomed.”

So here is the thing to understand.

You are not doomed but fixing a pornography addiction, in my opinion, for a fair number of people, OK, so this isn’t an absolute, involves fixing your life. So in a sense, it’s solvable and some people get really upset by that. They are like,” I have to fix my whole life?” Like sort of, yeah. On the flip side, fixing pornography addiction as your main quest in life will necessitate that all of the things that everybody else’s doing as a main quest become side quests. Now they become boxes to check what you need to do to fix the pornography addiction, find meaning, find purpose, build a career, get physically healthy, and go to the gym. So as you chase this insurmountable goal, every other part of your life will fall in order because that’s what it takes to overcome. And so it's actually like really interesting thing because I have seen people with pornography addiction, the process of overcoming their addiction means that they square away every corner of their life.

There’s also a karmic perspective that, sometimes I have had discussions with my clients about it that I will ask them about this kind of stuff, right? Because it’s about meaning. “So why do you think you were given this addiction?” And they will kind of say that “Until I really fix every corner of my life, like it always came back. It was a signal for me from the universe that I was not living my life in the right way and then once I started living my life the right way, the pornography addiction got fixed.” And these are literally my clients’ words, not mine. “Then even if I did it 80% I would relapse. So I really needed to give it a 100%” And then they would tell me the weirdest thing. “Pornography addiction is the best thing that ever happened to me” And now I understand this because then I will ask them “What makes you feel that way? Help me understand how you arrived to that conclusion ?” and they are like, “This has really made me realise what I appreciate about life and like how important these things are and what kind of life I want to live. There’s all this dopaminergic regulation crap which is a false life. It’s not a real life, it’s an empty life. And then in the process of getting rid of that, I have had to build relationships, I have had to be comfortable in my body, I have had to do all kinds of other things”

Blossoming into your ultimate self is your birthright.

Do give it to yourself

You deserve the best

Take care

Your pal

Subham


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