The Chemicals Behind the Addiction
By dog
1/15/2014 10:50:27 AM
I posted this once before, but since some have found substantial help by understanding the biochemistry of addiction (I've noticed this in a couple of posts), I will blog this again. Last time, it cut off the last part of what I posted, so I hope this time it will keep the whole thing intact.

I did not originate it, I got it from another website, and I'm sorry that I don't have a link to that site. I did edit it for brevity and clarity. The following post gives the chemicals name, its role in the mind and body, and then tells its effects on you during (and after) healthy sex, and then compares it with what that chemical does as a result of viewing pornography.
There are four main chemicals your body produces that help you feel good: Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Oxytocin, and Serotonin.

When you’re out doing certain activities [includes skydiving, white water kayaking, riding a rollercoaster, etc.], your brain releases these chemicals to give you a rush, or make you bond with people or remember the details of a moment.

While the chemicals are busy helping you feel good, your body and mind are linking that feeling to what you’re doing. Basically, it’s these chemicals, and the associations they reflect, that keep you coming back for more. Now that’s cool when the experiences are good things like adventures, or hobbies, or healthy sex, but when the experience is viewing pornography, the end result can get pretty ugly.


First up is Dopamine. Dopamine does a lot of things from helping you focus and learn to helping you control the movement of your body. But it usually is talked about as a pleasure chemical. Dopamine engages the reward-learning systems in the brain, so it’s also a kind of learning chemical. When you’re doing something cool, it rewards you with feelings of excitement, pleasure, and arousal, while simultaneously “taking notes” on what’s happening, so you can remember how to do it again.

Healthy Sex:
This chemical is awesome in a relationship! When you have sex with someone you care about, Dopamine kicks in to help you focus on them, and you develop a healthier relationship.
When you use an image to trigger the release of Dopamine, there isn’t an actual person involved for you to focus on, so you end up focusing on the sex act and sex organs. You learn to look at others as objects and forget about their personality, talents, quirks, etc. Porn also releases exaggerated levels of dopamine, possibly due to the longer anticipatory stage and increased novelty. This means more fuel. And what’s more it impedes the release of prolactin, which is a “braking” chemical that helps you feel full or done. [More on Prolactin below] A lot of fuel and no brakes sounds like a problem.


This chemical may sound like the name of a new metal band (hey, that’s actually not a bad idea), but it’s really what gives you an adrenaline rush and makes your heart pound. The details of whatever you’re doing when this chemical is released are seared into your brain so you easily remember them later. They help make you hyper-aware of novelty and increase your general awareness as well.

Healthy Sex:
Simply put, Norepinephrine makes sex exciting. When you’re having sex, it’s this chemical that makes your heart beat faster and creates a lasting memory of your time with that person.
When you use porn, Norepinephrine is released, making the images hard to forget. When you remember the image and the experience, there’s no personal connection, which can make you feel lonely and even worthless. The strong memories also make it hard to stay away from pornography, which can make for a vicious cycle.


This chemical helps connect you to your family. In fact, it’s what creates the bond between a mom and a newborn baby. The craziest thing is that Oxytocin helps people fall in love. (But don’t bother trying to put it in a potion or a bottle or anything—it doesn’t work. I’m not going to tell you how I know, I just know.) Oxytocin is released when people hold hands, embrace, and kiss. It is correlated with trust and decreases in anxiety. But it isn’t just about love, it’s about tuning us into social information so we can analyze it more appropriately.

Healthy Sex:
When you have sex, kiss, cuddle, hold hands, etc., Oxytocin is released, making the bond between you stronger. When you have sex, a tidal wave of Oxytocin is released at climax. This helps you relax and creates an emotional bond between you and your partner as your fear decreases and your trust increases.
When your “relationship” is being carried on with an image, there’s not as much social information to take in, but some oxytocin is still released at orgasm. The momentary feelings of contentment and calmness brought on by oxytocin can lead you back to pornography when you need an emotional connection or to relieve stress. The problem is that an image will never fill your need for a relationship. Real people hit all of the oxytocin “hot buttons.”


Prolactin does a lot of things. The root of the word is to encourage lactation, but it has a range of other effects from affecting hair growth to promoting brain development. In sexual process it surges after orgasm and acts to inhibit dopamine in order to bring about feelings of satiety, or feeling done, just like with feeling full after a large meal.

Healthy Sex:
After sex with a partner, prolactin is released in large amounts to bring the act to an end and begin a period of rest and satiety. Along with oxytocin, it enhances the sense of togetherness with another person.
Prolactin released after a heterosexual activity is 4 times higher than the amount released after self-stimulation to pornography. This means that real sex makes you feel 4 times more satisfied than pornography does. If you’re getting more dopamine and less prolactin than usual, you can see how pornography can quickly become repetitive and difficult to control.


Last up is the calming chemical. A lot of times people call Serotonin the “natural Prozac” because it helps you feel happy, calm, satisfied, and relieved of stress. Like prolactin, serotonin is generally inhibitory to dopamine and is released to signal the end of a sexual act.

Healthy Sex:
Following sexual climax with a partner, the release of Serotonin relaxes you and makes you feel satisfied. You attribute those good feelings with your partner and you remember and associate that feeling with them.
When you regularly view porn, you may begin using it to self-medicate when you’re feeling blue, or to escape the trials and pressures of life. A lot of porn users can’t even fall asleep unless they’ve had their porn fix, because the release of Serotonin helps them relax and sleep. That’s why pornography becomes a lot of people’s “drug of choice.”
When it comes down to it, this natural chemical stuff is pretty cool. The coolest part is that there are lots of awesome ways, including sex, that your brain releases these chemicals that make you feel great. And when you choose to avoid pornography, you choose to avoid all of the negative feelings, emotions, and hassles that come with it. That leaves you free to live your life and experience it on your terms, without letting addiction hold you back.

For more, check out "The Brain and Addiction", and "Tolerance: Porn becomes the Norm".


Spiritual blueprint    
"Thanks for sharing this information. It is very interesting to know what is happening in our biochemistry. From a different angle, I was reading in Moses 3 the other day, and it mentioned how God created things spiritually first, then naturally. It dawned in me that while there are physical things we can measure in the brain with addiction, maybe the addiction is created spiritually first. I think there is some truth to that, only it is Satan creating the spiritual blueprint, not Christ. Reading the post "Why you can't stop once you start" at have additional insight into Satan's role in this. I mean, it's obvious pornography has Satan's finger prints all over it, and he wants us to forget that he is even there. We don't need to fear Satan, we just need to know how to deal with him"
posted at 13:44:51 on April 5, 2014 by Anonymous
Better understanding    
"My spouse has had this addiction ever since middle school.But, it has been hard to remember that I am not the reason behind relapses. This post really helped me understand why it is hard to stop once you start. But, it can happen!"
posted at 12:43:43 on April 13, 2014 by Anonymous

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"As Latter-day Saints, we need not look like the world. We need not entertain like the world. Our personal habits should be different. Our recreation should be different. Our concern for family will be different. As we establish this distinctiveness firmly in our life’s pattern, the blessings of heaven await to assist us."

— Robert D. Hales

"Gifts of the Spirit" Ensign, Feb. 2002