how to quit porn

How to Quit Porn

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Several years ago, a video regarding pornography went viral from an unlikely source. Comedian Russell Brand discussed his battle with porn, the negative effect it has had on him, and his desire to learn how to quit porn. First, he shared his belief that “our attitudes toward sex have become warped and perverted and have deviated from its true function as an expression of love and a means for procreating.”

He confessed that he hadn’t succeeded at quitting porn and that “it’s affected my ability to relate to women.” Valerie Voon, a neuroscientist from Cambridge University, can explain why. A study she conducted revealed that compulsive porn watchers experience the same reactions in the brain as addicted drug users. Can the effects of porn on the brain be reversed? Is there hope for quitting? The answer is yes. Here’s a game plan for how to quit porn.

Face the truth.

You need to admit your porn watching to someone. If you are married, I highly recommend telling your wife (if she doesn’t already know), even if it causes hurt feelings. Secrets keep us enslaved. When secrets are brought into the light, the ugliness is exposed. Face it and own it. This is the first step toward being free. However, before you talk to your spouse, talk to a counselor, wise friend, or pastor. You may need help in dealing with the potential aftermath. This can be like dropping a bomb for some spouses.

Break the cycle.

When a person watches porn, neurotransmitters called dopamine flood the brain (which is a lot like what happens during heroin use). When the doses are too high, as is the case with habitual porn viewing, the brain adjusts to restore balance by reducing the amount of dopamine available. This causes a decrease in the pleasure a person can experience while viewing the same amount of porn again. So users need to consume more and more porn and potentially more graphic images to experience the pleasure they had before.

Lower dopamine levels also can make us feel depressed, causing us to go back to porn for stimulation. It is a cycle. But when we quit watching porn, the brain can readjust and correct its dopamine levels. And that only happens if we break the cycle first, by not feeding the appetite. In time, the appetite will decline by not feeding it. The most difficult days are in the beginning. It will gradually get better. There are support centers that do week-long intensives that are great for starting the process.

Seek support.

You can’t do this alone. And great news—you aren’t alone. Find a group of like-minded people who you can meet with regularly and with whom you can be completely honest. Make sure it’s a group that values accountability and encouragement. Find people who will be real with you and pray with you about it. Search for porn addiction support groups or seek out churches with programs in your area. Another alternative, done preferably in conjunction with a support group, is one-on-one counseling. A licensed therapist can provide specific coping techniques to use when the urges come calling, can act as another level of accountability, and can uncover unseen triggers.

Choose a fuller life.

Quitting porn is a choice for more. Commit to that choice every morning, every hour, and every evening.

The key to a full life is found in relationships. Porn alienates us from one another and causes relational difficulty. It trains our brains to live in a fantasy world, rather than connect with real human beings. Selfishness is nurtured because porn is instant gratification at the expense of people being dehumanized. That leads to guilt, loneliness, and isolation. It is short-term exhilaration with long-term lower quality of life. Intimacy takes effort, patience, and investment, but the reward is abundance. Relational intimacy refines selflessness and the ability to love. Quitting porn is a choice for more. Commit to that choice every morning, every hour, and every evening.

Sound off: What advice would you give for how to quit porn?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “In what way are personal relationships better than internet relationships?”