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Straight Talk Recovery – Episode 9: Pornogpraphy Addiction


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Transcription of Episode 9: Porn Addiction

Adam Kostiw: Hello again, and welcome to another episode of Straight Talk Recovery. Today on episode 9, we’re going to be talking about that great subject that everyone doesn’t want to talk about, and that’s pornography or porn. So again, this is straight talk recovery with Raymond Moore and Adam Kostiw.

Raymond Moore: Hi, everybody. So just before we got going with this podcast, I was joking with Adam and said I was going to open it up by saying, Hey, let’s talk porn because I want for a second to take away the uncomfortable feeling of even the word pornography.

One of the things that we hear about very often is when we talk porn addiction. If you look at the DSM-5, which is the manual for mental health that most therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, et cetera, really turn to, it’s not an official diagnosis, and what it does is basically sits under the umbrella of sex addiction.

Sex addiction has definitely become more in the forefront of a lot of discussions and that it is a problem.

I know for a lot of people there’s a lot of joking like, hey, how can too much sex be a problem? And I think once you really start to kind of hear where this ends up and then why it does become a problem, you’ll understand more. So why we decided to discuss specifically porn addiction is because of the fact that very few people actually talk about it openly, even professionals.

I very rarely see very frank straight conversations about this particular topic. Right?

Adam Kostiw: And so often what happens is, again, like Ray said, there’s that connection to sex addiction, porn addiction, and we hear it all the time. Well, oh, I watch, yes, there’s porn in my life, but I don’t have a sex addiction. So in that case, it’s not. Well, what we’re talking about today is the porn part.

We’re going to be very clear about this and how and what porn plays, what part in our lives. Because while you may not think you have an addiction or someone else may think you have an addiction or tells you you have an addiction because we hear that a lot, so and so says I have an addiction, right? I don’t think I have an addiction. So what we’re going to talk about openly is well, what does porn do for you?

Adam Kostiw: What does porn do for men? What are we using it for? And you know, what are some of the pitfalls? What do we have to really watch out for? What do we need to change in our lives and our behaviour?

Raymond Moore: First, let me jump in and wave my finger at you a little bit. It’s not just for men.

Adam Kostiw: No.

Raymond Moore: So a lot of the statistics are showing. I mean, regardless of gender or whatever that ultimately people viewing it is increasing. And one of that is is the availability of it. The many different platforms, et cetera, et cetera. And you’re 100 percent right. The whole kind of focus of this is going to be on what does it do for you?

So if you go back to I believe it was episode one when we defined addiction, we really got into the very specific definition of what it is and my own personal definition that I kind of roll with and when I’m speaking with people, it’s very simple anything that changes the way you think and feel.

So pornography, why it works very well for people is because it does exactly that. It changes how you think and feel. So it’s important to understand like we do with substances, what makes an addict versus what doesn’t.

So the casual viewer of pornography, usually how it’s gauged in terms of the addiction or the use of it is based on time spent doing it, right. So you’ll notice for a lot of people, they may normalize and say, you know what, I only view porn once a week. But what they don’t tell you is that when they do view it, it’s 14 hours long, right.

And I mean, for a lot of people and I’m going to be very open here and the people, they tend to think pornography may be a way of meeting basic needs.

So I mean, I don’t know a single person out there that can basically go 14 hours without reaching, I guess, the objective that they’re looking for.

Adam Kostiw: Go ahead and say it.

Raymond Moore: No, no, but essentially people are looking for pleasure or orgasm, whatever it may be. And typically doesn’t stretch 14 hours.

Adam Kostiw: No.

Raymond Moore: But this is where things start to change. So what happens in those 14 hours is neurologically speaking, you were constantly getting that wonderful Neurochemical dopamine. You’re getting all of the same neural chemicals that you would get if you’re actually falling in love with someone. This is interesting. I’m now going to connect porn with love.

Adam Kostiw: All right.

Raymond Moore: Okay, there are lots of similarities in terms of how the brain experiences love versus how it does when watching pornography. So some may consider, and I know, I think a few years ago I heard the term self-love, but self-love, meaning masturbation.

Another word that’s kind of taboo, but ultimately self-love. So a lot of times what people are doing, I mean, in looking at the behaviour from a moral perspective, like, sitting there for 14 hours, self-loving yourself would be defined as, you know, gross, unhealthy, whatever it may be, right?

So where it becomes a problem is essentially that. Is that the viewing of it is not as simply about curiosity. If I compare it to say, like the social drinker who has that drink and then can put it down fine. But when people start to actually rely on pornography as essentially being their happy place, right where they get their good feelings, where they feel good, this is where it becomes a problem.

Adam Kostiw: Right and we talked about this before as well it’s, we’ve heard the term, whether it’s male or female. I’ll make it clear about that. It doesn’t matter where I look at the menu as long as I come home to eat or whatever the expression. There are so many expressions.

Right, thinking that that’s okay, but it becomes a problem when all of a sudden is to be able to come home and eat. You need to go somewhere else to get an appetite and you can’t get an appetite at home.

That becomes a problem as well.

Raymond Moore: I think that comes further down the line, and that’s actually one thing that a lot of people, I think, get mistaken, believe it or not. Here’s one of those moments where I think I’m going to disagree with you a little bit. Okay, so I’m sure for some people, yeah, that’s kind of what happens.

But I think that people get so lost in the feel-good nature of this and they need to change the way they think and feel. It gets more complicated. The one thing that we’re going to kind of flip over and talk about is how others perceive this right? And I think that’s, well, maybe that’s where your point was going in.

Adam Kostiw: And that’s where it was. It was not the fact that for some people, the pornography takes over. To the point and you do a great talk on this in actual groups about thresholds. And so what happens is you raise your threshold so much that the regular stuff at home doesn’t get you going. And so they’re preempting it before going home. And so this is where the problem, that’s where I was going with it.

Raymond Moore: My mistake.

Adam Kostiw: No, that’s okay. That’s what we’re here to talk about.

Raymond Moore: I was so hoping I had a good argument going on with you. Now you’re saying the right thing. So yeah, and I’ll kind of walk through the process of what that actually looks like. But for a lot of people, it’s the state of mind achieved during that behaviour.

So when viewing pornography, it’s about the state of mind. What a lot of people tend to believe is that it’s a person lusting or desiring over what it is they’re actually seeing on the screen, which is absolutely not the case. And this is the biggest misconception.

This is where family members struggle the most. So we’ll have partners basically say, Well, you expect me to look like that or you expect me to do those things and et cetera, et cetera. And one of the things that people don’t realize, including the addict. I mean, this is the same thing with substances as well. What they don’t understand is not about what they’re seeing. It is about what they’re actually experience as a result of what it is they’re seeing.

How that progresses and I’ll just jump into the pleasure threshold for a second?

Adam Kostiw: Please.

Raymond Moore: Okay, so basically what happens is, is that the first viewing of pornography, you know, you will get that stimulating feeling. It’ll be interesting. It’ll be whatever if this becomes an actual means of coping with what’s happening. You’ll likely start to see your viewing experience intensify. And what I mean by that is you will go from something very basic that may be arousing to you to all of a sudden starting to get higher and higher and higher in terms of the content that’s actually arousing you.

So you may end up at the point where you’re actually watching things that are disturbing you. But at the same time, arousing you. So I’ve worked with many people that have talked about, my God, like the stuff I watch. It’s absolutely disgusting and it makes me sick, but it turns me on. And what is happened is that their body has basically adopted. It created a tolerance to basically a certain level of arousal.

So now they’re to the point where they’re watching things even involving people getting hurt or whatever it may be, and they are getting pleasure from it while simultaneously thinking, oh my God, this is disgusting or whatever, but I can’t stop watching it.

Where this becomes a problem, because let’s play devil’s advocate for a second. What I do in my spare time with myself, with my thoughts or whatever. How is that anyone’s business? And this is where it does become other people’s business.

So, if my brain is now conditioned to be aroused by such things, that when it comes to a very basic intimate experience with somebody I love in which I should probably be aroused like, let’s say for instance, you know, rubbing a leg or something like that. The reality is your brain is used to an extraordinarily high threshold of arousal in order to get to the point. And I mean for for some people, for their physical body to respond in order to engage in in in sexual relations.

So what ends up happening then is that the person then has to actually push the other person into positions in which, no pun intended, put them into positions in which they have to make, you know, maybe doing things uncomfortable. Simply to please the other person and from their perspective this person is left with the insecurity of, you know, I don’t bring out in that person what I used to bring in that person.

So I need to step my game up, whether it actually brings me pleasure or not. But the reality is, is that, that person may not get to the point where they can actually physically arouse the other person because the person now cannot see that as being arousing. This is where it gets really complicated and I’ll shut up in one second, I’ll give it back to you Adam.

Adam Kostiw: Yeah, no problem.

Raymond Moore: So, one of the things that gets really complicated is that for the person that is used to those high threshold of pleasure, there is still that piece of their brain that absolutely loves or maybe that are indeed attracted to the person that’s sitting in front of them. But again, their brains are like, Wow, you’re nowhere near where you need to be for us to prepare ourselves. So really, what porn does, I mean, there used to be the old “porn messes with your brain” and it actually does.

It starts to actually change how you experience arousal, which in return changes how your body responds to arousal.

So you’re sitting there and you could be very, very frustrated of the fact that you’re not in a position to be actually thing and have no idea what’s happening and what’s actually happening is the viewing of pornography or the viewing of those situations and brought you a high state of arousal have now impacted your ability to be in a romantic situation with somebody that you actually really want to be in a romantic situation with.

Adam Kostiw: Right, and and what I wanted to add to that is working with a number of clients with this problem as well, what I was hearing is for some of them is there was also the guilt and shame over their feeling that they can’t do this and can’t be that aroused. And so this is where I was going a very much earlier. Is there prepping beforehand and they would actually watch pornography literally a minute before they knew they were going to go to bed or whatever to try to get to that point and then try to maintain it while they’re there.

What happens on the flip side, when we take a look at the mental health side of it as well is now that they’re starting to suffer from the mental side, the guilt, the shame, after the fact, because they’re feeling now worse, which then turns around and flips them back over to the pornography site to get their mind away from it and to get to that feeling so they get caught in that vicious circle again. And so they’re trying all kinds of things.

Now again, where the relationship, an intimate relationship is open on. You have all those things that people think of. And now all of a sudden, there is the little secrets. There’s the not sharing, right?

All of a sudden, you know, using supplements to say beforehand because of the shame and guilt, saying, okay, I’ve got to take Viagra, or I got to take whichever form of medication so that I can try to maintain it once I get there. Right. And so again, that just perpetuates it and the feelings, you know, and we hear with shame and guilt when it comes to depression and all these other feelings. And then it turns right back to what you were saying. They’re going back to the source.

Raymond Moore: I mean, for those of you that may have absolutely no understanding of porn addiction whatsoever and say you have issues with substances and you’re just listening because you love our podcast, I don’t blame you, by the way. But if you’re just listening for the sake of listening, I mean, it sounds very, very similar to substances.

Adam Kostiw: Exactly.

Raymond Moore: The same cycle, the same objective. The objective is to not desire and to, you know, I don’t know the word lust over these remarkable bodies or actions or whatever. Ultimately, it’s about the state of mind.

Right? It’s about taking you away. And now let’s look at somebody I compared love with pornography. Right now, let’s look at somebody that may struggle with rejection, maybe have intimacy issues, may have all of these things going on for them and pornography is is a magic cure.

All of those things kind of, could be seen as being a way of of dealing with those particular needs in your life, right? Video game addiction is very similar. That’s going to be a whole different podcast. We don’t have a lot of fun with that one. But ultimately with porn addiction, it’s the same thing. I’m changing the way I think and feel because certain things are not going well in my life.

Adam Kostiw: Right.

Raymond Moore: Kind of going back to the pleasure threshold and with the family. So I mean, the family clearly looks at and anyone that doesn’t understand this, if the porn addict doesn’t understand that what they’re viewing is about changing the way they think and feel, not simply just lusting over whatever, right. The families are that much more lost, just like what the substance is, right?

Let’s say somebody does want to get honest with that, right? This is one of those things and why people don’t want to talk about it immediately. Shame. Shame is attached to this one. I mean, even the word pornography for some people, it’s even hard to say. But with a lot of different families and partners of the people I’ve worked with, many of them always come back to the same thing.

It becomes this comparison of image, right? And how you are lusting over this person. And I can never look like this person, which triggers the insecurity of the other person. Right? The addict can say, well, no, I do it to change the way I think and feel because I’m not doing well in my life and there are certain things. They don’t do that they just sit there and go, oh no, no, you’re beautiful, which probably is actually the truth.

They probably are attracted to the people they’re with. But the objective of viewing pornography for an addict is significantly different because the objective is to change to how they think and feel. That’s why they get to that point where they’re watching disturbing stuff that they would never in real life want anyone they love to actually engage in. But nevertheless, their brain is used to actually experiencing that.

And let’s remember, this is the power of television, internet and everything. Our brains are not as smart as we think and basically in the sense of no, basically in the sense of what I’m viewing on some level, I actually think I’m experiencing just like video games, right? So when I’m viewing this, I’m there, I’m in the moment, I’m getting the effects, I’m getting the benefits. So your brain is actually thinking that it’s experiencing that.

So now you take it out of the world of internet and everything that comes along with the the stimuli we get from computer screens from even with pornography now. I mean, if you look at where pornography came from, you know, it was it was on the internet, but it wasn’t as readily available as it is now. Like for somebody to have the capability to stream 14 hours of pornography is just it’s part of the problem, right?

But, ultimately, it’s people need to understand that in order to stop the behavior, because even the research I read, the vast majority of people are saying that, yes, they stop, then they start.

It’s very similar to substances, right? I think part of the problem was, and you banged it right on the head, you totally nailed it. Is that with that shame and that guilt of doing this? Because I mean, like, oh, how disgusting, the perception.

Adam Kostiw: Yeah.

Raymond Moore: It makes it impossible to talk about it and why? They are actually trying to change the way they think and feel right? Is it fair for me to say I watch hours of pornography because I feel unloved in my life? Right? It actually sounds weird. But you know what? It’s true. It is absolutely true, right?

Adam Kostiw: And you’re hitting a really important part there, and we need to think of it because when we do talk about porn we’re talking about the person there who’s experiencing watching the porn. And the hard part is they have a difficulty understanding where, say, their partner or family members coming from at times and how personally they take it.

Adam Kostiw: Right. So like you did talk about the image issues for some people. Right. All of us, to some degree, suffers from some image issues. We want to be seen this way. We want to be seen that way.

And then all of a sudden something like this makes them feel like, whoa, I’m not being seen the way I want, or they make it all of a sudden, take it inwardly, so they’re looking at themselves and they’re actually now feeling worse about themselves, right? And the addict themselves is has the difficulty sometimes understand is why the other person takes it personally. Right. And that’s a big part of the conversation that needs to happen.

Is to understand yeah, I don’t understand. But what happens is, is this is what happens when I hear about this, when I see this and you hide this from me and then I find out about it, I feel this way. I feel I’m not good enough. I feel like I don’t look to the standards that are set. I put myself and I start, judging themselves as really what they’re doing, right?

And so now all of a sudden, they’re struggling, right? So, you know, just like we said, any addiction. It’s not solitary. It affects the people around you.

Raymond Moore: That’s right.

Adam Kostiw: So we’re not talking, about the, 16 year old boy in puberty or whatever who watches the occasional porn but doesn’t have a girlfriend. We’re talking about how it affects the relationships right now. But again, you know, you could be 17, you could be 18. And if you’re spending 14 hours, that’s a problem. Because when that relation does happen, what are you measuring it against? What feelings are you measuring it against? Right?

For those of us who’ve gone through, you know, dating or whatever, us older guys. I’m saying guys because it’s the two of us, I look back, you know, fondness about the, meeting my wife and those that first bit of dating or whatever the feelings of that. Again, like you said, those are the feelings, right? Pornography, right. And the chasing of those feelings and maintaining those feelings.

Raymond Moore: Yeah. Well, I mean, it prevents you from having to deal with your fears, right? I mean,pornography these days are set up with basically like you create you hit a couple of buttons and create what it is you’re thinking about and then basically be in the moment and your brain responds accordingly. Right?

One of the things that does become a problem, though, is although emotionally you are getting certain emotional needs met. One of the things that does happen you need to be cautious of as well is how you view, how you view what it is you’re watching. Sorry, that doesn’t make very much sense. But what I’m saying is that for a lot of people that are porn addicts, they struggle with objectifying people as a result of it.

So when they’re not viewing pornography, essentially, they walk around with like that same kind of lens and that when they’re with whatever population may attract them, that they’re sexualizing them. Right. So this is kind of where we do and this is the correlation and the the umbrella of sex addiction as well is that they basically become an object, right? So that that that population that you’re attracted to becomes your preoccupation is with objectifying them as sexual, whatever, right? So it’s important to understand what pornography if this is something that you’re struggling with to number one, speak up.

Absolutely number one speak up, find support and really start looking at why you’re watching so much. It’s not just fun, it’s not just whatever. You’re doing it for a reason, because if you’re clicking off your screen and you’re feeling guilty that you started at a particular time and you stop at a particular time and you have that guilty feeling behind that. It’s a problem. If it’s taking away from your loved ones in your life, it’s a problem. If you’re spending all of your free time doing it, it’s very likely a problem.

Adam Kostiw: Yeah, I agree with you there wholeheartedly. And it’s about, you know, like, I really like how you said that is you need to look at the motivation, you need to look at why you’re doing it, because all of us like to justify, right, we do. And when we have a behavior or something that we’re feeling a little guilt and shame, we’ll try to justify it at times.

Well, no difference in pornography. We hear it all the time, right? Well, it’s not that big of a deal or telling ourselves, Well, you know what, if it’s doing all that in your life and it’s maybe is a bigger deal and we need to take a look at why.

And say, okay, you know what? Oh, I’m just looking for this. Well, no. Why? Go deeper, right? Don’t stay on the surface. Look at exactly what it’s doing, why it’s doing what you’re doing it. And I’m glad that you mentioned that because when we talk in these podcasts, we always end our podcast with the, you know and remember, keep talking. Well, in this one, as we wrap up, I think we have to add and start talking.

That’s the key point here is, it’s not being talked enough people aren’t openly talking about, it’s that hidden thing in our lives. And yet, you know, it’s easier to talk about addiction to cocaine and alcohol or all this openly with someone. Yet pornography, which is just can be just as damaging in a person’s life. And yet you can’t talk about it.

Raymond Moore: Yeah. And I think it’s about time. I think we’re living in a time now where, you know, basically everything’s on the table. At least that’s my perception. I mean, I think the world is looking at a lot of very, very important things that it’s turned its back to. And I definitely think I mean, with the embracing of mental health and people talking more and more about it, that we absolutely lose this ridiculous notion that this particular behavior is something to be ashamed about when really it entails people that are suffering with something or are going through something or struggling with something, and that it’s just actually a coping strategy for a much bigger problem that may be happening with them and throwing up the disgust sign or, you know, not being able to talk about it. It only leads to people getting deeper and deeper into it.

So just like any other addiction out there, just like anything you may be struggling with. Start talking about what’s actually happening. If it’s a problem for you, reach out. Get that help start talking.

Adam Kostiw: Right, perfect. And that’s a great way to segue out here is just remember, start talking and keep talking. This is straight talk recovery with Adam Kostiw and Raymond Moore.

Raymond Moore: Thanks, everybody.


Other Episodes

Episode 1: Introduction

Episode 2: Anger

Episode 3: Relationships

Episode 4: Co-dependency

Episode 5: Self-Compassion

Episode 6: Virtual Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

Episode 7: Mindfulness

Episode 8: Grief

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