Porn: The New Narcotic

If you, or a friend or family member, struggles with an irresistible urge to watch porn, then here’s some information you need to know. New neurological research reveals that porn is as potentially addictive as heroin or cocaine. Yes, you read it right. Porn is as potentially addictive as heroin or cocaine. This is huge and hopefully a wake-up call regarding the danger of Internet porn. While there are 600,000 to 800,000 heroin users in the United States, 40 million Americans regularly use online porn. 

I’ve written and taught for decades about the addictive power of porn on the human brain. The difference is that heroin and cocaine are substances that are injected or ingested. Porn involves a process that affects the brain chemically and physically similar to that of addictive chemicals. Dopamine, the chemical triggered by sexual arousal and orgasm, is also the chemical that triggers addiction pathways in the brain.

Morgan Bennett, in his article, “The New Narcotic,” urges readers to think of the brain as a “forest where trails are worn down by hikers who walk along the same path over and over again, day after day. The exposure to pornographic images creates similar neural pathways that, over time, become more and more ‘well paved’ as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. Those neurological pathways eventually become the trail in the brain’s forest by which sexual interactions are routed. Thus, a pornography user has ‘unknowingly’ created a neurological circuit that makes his or her default perspective toward sexual matters ruled by the norms and expectations of pornography.” Furthermore, viewing porn changes the physical matter of the brain so new neurological pathways require pornographic images to trigger the desired pleasure. Just like with a drug–a man’s brain quickly tolerates porn and he needs a different, more taboo, image or experience to achieve the pleasure he’s seeking. In other words, viewing porn involves the law of diminishing returns. A man must have increasingly novel, and forbidden forms of porn to get the same rush.

What you just read I’ve known for some time. But what I never knew is a recently learned fact that increases the addictive power of porn. An orgasm triggered by sex with another person causes the body to release endorphins–the chemical that makes us feel satisfied. In contrast, an orgasm caused while viewing porn does not release endorphins preventing a sense of satisfaction. This causes the viewer to seek out more porn and more taboo porn in search of satisfaction.

The good news is there is freedom. Jesus said, “If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). That’s a great promise. But how is it experienced? How do we achieve freedom from the addictive power of porn? I’m not going to pretend I can answer that question in a short blog. Wish I could. What I will tell you, and what I’ve written about extensively in my book, When Good Men are Tempted, is that as followers of Christ we are new men and women in Christ. And the more we understand our new and true identity, the more we will be able to take the necessary steps to live a pure life. If you’ve not read my book, I urge you to get a copy and go through it with a friend or a small group. You can purchase the book by clicking here. I also encourage you to sign up for Covenant Eyes and be sure every member of your family has CE installed. I’ve found that Internet accountability has been a key component of my own strategy for purity–as have many other man and women.

We’re involved in a spiritual battle and it’s raging right now. By God’s grace, and through the power of Christ, victory is ours . . . one day at a time.

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