By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate
The research is clear about the strong addictive nature of pornography. For many men it’s not simply a leisure activity, but rather a behavior they cannot stop which has caused their life to become unmanageable. Getting into recovery is not a simple process. Because sexuality is naturally part of the human experience, it becomes a bit complicated to understand its dynamics.
Overcoming pornography addiction will be easier when you understand different addiction styles. If you can identify a particular style that is more prominent for you, then you can identify healthier activities that satisfy the objectives of those particular styles. This actually diminishes the pull of the addiction for some men.
I like my clients to learn three basic styles of addiction. They are simple and easy to understand. They include: Arousal, Satiation, and Fantasy. An arousal style constantly looks for a rush. The behavior provides an adrenaline-type feeling. A satiation style is looking for a way to numb out or relax. It looks for a ways to increase comfort or calm things down. A fantasy style looks for ways to escape. These behaviors provide rescue from the stressors of life and inner anxiety.
With each different style, there are different chemicals that are released into the bloodstream. The body is filled with bio-chemicals that provide the sensations associated with each style. When addictive behaviors occur over long periods of time, the body becomes accustomed to these heightened levels of the natural drug. In fact, it starts to feel “normal.” So when the behaviors are stopped, the addict will experience different forms of discomfort and withdrawal.
How can you identify your style? Think about the times you are acting out. Do you frequently look toward the behavior as a way to add fun and get a rush into your life? If so then may lean more toward arousal style. Do you frequently look toward the behavior as a way to relax and de-stress? If so then you may lean more toward satiation style. Do you frequently look toward the behavior as a way to escape reality? Then you may be leaning toward a fantasy style.
When you identify your predominant pornography addiction style, then you can engage healthy behaviors that provide similar neurotransmitters. In other words, your body can still get the chemicals it’s looking for without the addictive behavior. It won’t be the same tsunami of chemicals (the same amount of flooding), but it still helps to offset the discomfort. It will just take some time to get accustomed to normal levels of the biochemical.
If your predominant style is arousal, then look for activities in your life that provide excitement and fun. Clients have described things like mountain biking, sports, roller coasters, or high adventure activities as ways of getting this sensation. If your predominant style is satiation, then look for activities in your life that provide a way to relax and calm down. Clients have described things like walking the dog, sitting in the pool, watching a movie, or getting a massage as possible activities. If your predominant style is fantasy, then look for activities in your life that provide you a healthy escape. Clients have described things like reading a book, listening to music, engaging hobbies, or camping as healthy ways to escape. Everyone is different, so you have to do those things that best work for you.
Much more could be written about the neurotransmitters and biochemistry of addiction and each style. However, suffice it to say that when you find healthy outlets related to each style, it will be easier for you to stay abstinent and maintain your recovery. Find ways to get healthy chemicals into your bloodstream through healthy behaviors. Furthermore, you may find that these activities will be things you want to maintain throughout your lifespan.
Call us if you need help overcoming pornography and understanding your addiction style. We facilitate pornography addiction programs in Mesa Arizona, and can provide a 15-minute consultation with you on the phone: (480) 668-8301.