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Today, we live with more stress, pain and anxiety than perhaps any other society in the world's history. Viewing Internet porn and/or engaging in cybersex chat, coupled with self-stimulation, cause the brain and body to release drugs back into its own nervous system. No wonder so many are turning to the Internet. Based on its ability to produce self-medication, mask pain, escape reality and provide the means to achieve one of the body's most powerful peak experiences, Internet pornography has been placed in direct competition with illicit drugs!
As will be detailed in future articles, the structure of the male brain predisposes virtually all men and teenage boys to some level of porn attraction and/or addiction. To a lesser degree, women also are at risk. Many today agree that the greater danger for women and teenage girls is cybersex through Internet chat rooms.
For some, pornography and cybersex are simply part of the process of becoming sexually aroused and excited to the point of peak experience. Pornography and cybersex are a means to satisfy a sexual urge. Many pro-pornography activists at this point would cry out and say, "Exactly right! That's what we've been saying all along. Porn and cybersex are harmless outlets for men, women and teens to satisfy their normal, healthy urges."
If only it were that simple. To the contrary, the hard facts prove otherwise. With rare exception, once a person sets off down the path of regular pornography use and/or cybersex chat, it becomes much more than a "harmless outlet for normal, healthy urges." For millions of men, women and teenagers, sexual stimulation is but a piece of the puzzle. Pornography and cybersex become a habit-forming drug used as an escape-escape from the pressures of life, from stress and pain, from fear, loneliness, emptiness, regret, rejection, childhood abuse and a host of other human emotions and memories. Pornography and cybersex temporarily mask the pain. They fill the "void," the "hole in the soul," and provide momentary "self-medication."
Viewing pornography and engaging in sexual chat are ways to "feel good" by passing time in an all-consuming activity that blocks out the trying realities of life, the difficulties at hand.
But for pornography and cybersex addicts, exacting, time-consuming rituals leading up to the "main event" become a major part of the process. Thus a man may invent elaborate excuses for his wife as to why he is spending so many late nights at the office. He may put stacks of files in his briefcase and bring them home, going on and on about how "swamped" he is. The longer and more elaborate the ritual, the more time he can spend away from the pressing realities of his life.
A woman may neglect her home and family because she is obsessed with Internet chat rooms. She, too, will employ a litany of excuses and go to great lengths to cover up her addiction.
Whether the motive for consuming pornography and cybersex is sexual appetite, escape/self-medication, or a combination of the two, engaging in these addictions causes the brain and body to "endogenously" produce and release chemical drugs into its own system, just as if they had been injected with a hypodermic needle. These chemicals include: epinephrine (an adrenal gland hormone that "locks-in" memories of experiences occurring at times of high arousal), adrenaline, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), noradrenaline, norepinephrine and testosterone, among others. This at-the-push-of-a-button drug injection is dragging millions of troubled victims along in its destructive wake.
Thus, persistent accessing of porn and cybersex not only provide the addict with sexual arousal, but offers a way to "self-medicate" in order to escape the realities of life and, if only temporarily, "make the pain go away."
INTERNET PORN IS PREFERABLE TO TRADITIONAL DRUGS
If you think about it, in many ways Internet pornography is preferable to traditional drugs. For one thing, it can more easily be hidden from view. If you achieve your high through Internet porn or cybersex, do you stagger around, slur your words or pass out? After an Internet porn or cybersex fix, might you be pulled over and cited for DUI? What other drug can you sample for free as long as you like? (There are enough "free" and "sampler" porn sites and thousands of cybersex chat rooms available through standard Internet services to keep an addict occupied for years.) And if the free or sample drugs aren't strong enough, what other drug could you purchase in large enough quantities-not to mention a constantly changing variety to satisfy your changing mood, craving or preference-for just the cost of your Internet connection?
Do you see the point? Can you understand why addicts of Internet porn eventually will outnumber cocaine, crack or meth addicts?
THE PORN ADDICTION PROCESS IS LIKE THAT OF ANY OTHER DRUG ADDICTION
Internet porn/cybersex addiction follows a similar pathway as traditional drug addiction. In order to mask or deaden the pain of life, the porn addict seeks a quick mood change, some sort of stimulation, an escape.
Eventually he becomes powerless. He further spins out of control as the compulsion takes over his life. Even severe threats to job, family or health cannot slow down the obsession. He is caught in a cycle of the need for mood change, stimulation, escape and temporary relief, a vicious gripping cycle that both repels and draws him, repulses and arouses. Often the addict wants to change, in fact knows he must change or succumb to disaster. Virtually every porn/cybersex addict reaches the point where he realizes the craving is simply too powerful; he cannot stop without help.
PORN ADDICTION, LIKE OTHER ADDICTIONS, BUILDS UP A TOLERANCE
Alcoholics are notorious for their ability to consume enormous amounts of liquor; chain smokers can burn through several packs of cigarettes a day.
It is the same with pornography and cybersex chat-greater and greater stimulation is needed to produce an ever-diminishing gratification. Porn and cybersex addicts have acquired a tolerance to perverse and obscene material, material that would leave most sick to their stomachs. And the desire for harder and more explicit material and conversations grows stronger-not weaker-with each attempt to satisfy it-they've got to take a "harder drug" to get the same high. In too many cases, this "harder drug" is the addict acting out what they've seen in porn, with real people-often innocent women, teens and children.
PORN ADDICTS SUFFER WITHDRAWAL
Porn or cybersex addicts suffer withdrawal symptoms when they try-or are compelled-to relinquish their vice for any length of time. An alcoholic gets the shakes without alcohol; the porn and cybersex addict's world starts to shake when the overwhelming urge to view pornography or start up a cybersex conversation hits and he can't get online.
It's as if he might go crazy without another session. The withdrawal pains may drive an addict to find porn or sexual arousal any way and anywhere he can-often causing him to act out his needs in inappropriate ways.
With the Internet, however, it's usually all too easy to satisfy the craving (at least in the early stages of addiction) by heading for the computer screen. With such ease of access and frequency of use, how quickly do you think a porn or cybersex addiction will accelerate until it is out of control? How quickly will an addict become bored with soft-porn or tame sex conversations and proceed to the hard stuff? When compared to the rate of addiction with traditional pornography mediums of the past, Internet porn and cybersex have accelerated porn addiction to the speed of light.
CIGARETTES AREN'T ADDICTIVE AND THEY DON'T CAUSE CANCER-AT LEAST ACCORDING TO THE TOBACCO COMPANIES Until a few years ago, the tobacco companies insisted that cigarettes were not addictive and didn't cause cancer. Finally after more than 40 years of investigative research, testing and tracking, the evidence is so completely overwhelming that the tobacco companies could no longer credibly deny it.
Of course, most reasonably intelligent people have recognized the dangers of smoking for decades. The signs and evidence were decisive. We didn't need a panel of scientists and doctors to verify the facts we saw all around us. And now that the tobacco companies have finally admitted (or at least stopped denying) that their product is a silent killer, how does that help those already afflicted with lung cancer or emphysema? It doesn't. For them it's too late. But hopefully future generations won't be so foolish.
Do you see any correlations between the tobacco and the pornography industries? What do pornographers and those who support them say? "Internet pornography is just a harmless hobby." "It's a harmless way to blow off sexual tension." "What's wrong with a woman having an affair over the Internet?" "Women should be able to fantasize with porn just like men do." "Porn doesn't hurt anyone; if you don't like it, then don't look at it."
But just as with cigarette smoking, the signs and evidence are all around us. Rape, incest, child sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, venereal disease, crime rates, glazed-over fathers and husbands, aloof wives and mothers. And like second-hand smoke, ingesting pornography doesn't harm just the viewer, it damages all those within the viewer's sphere of influence.
There are now hundreds of credible medical, psychological and neurological studies which clearly show that pornography is harmful and dangerous to all involved, directly and indirectly. There is no need to wait for additional research or more millions of victims-the results are in.
Mark B. Kastleman is the author of the revolutionary new book titled The Drug of the New Millennium-the Science of How Internet Pornography Radically Alters the Human Brain and Body-A Guide for Parents, Spouses, Clergy and Counselors. Many leading scientists, psychologists, therapists and religious leaders consider this book to be one of the most important works ever written on this subject, and a must-read for parents, spouses, clergy and counselors. Click here to purchase The Drug of the New Millennium-the Science of How Internet Pornography Radically Alters the Human Brain and Body.