Beth, Heidi (our 14-year-old Westie), and I are planning our next vacation. Destination – Virginia. The more I plan, the more excited I become. We are plotting every day, in order to see as much as possible. The more I look at pictures and think about the historical places we will see, the more hyped I get. For me, Virginia is becoming an addiction.
Here’s what happens. My fixation on Virginia has created a neural pathway in my brain. And I have this chemical living in my head called dopamine, which is triggered by these thoughts of ecstasy. Dopamine serves to remind me of the things I find pleasurable, and right now that is my trip to Virginia.
The more I think about the trip – Williamsburg, Shenandoah National Park, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Virginia Beach – the stronger my neural pathway to Virginia becomes.
The same is true with pornography.
Dopamine powers the reward system of the brain. It is this craving neuro-chemical that screams out, “You have to have it now!” With each hit, the pathway becomes stronger and the addiction becomes more difficult to break.
Dopamine is not a bad thing. After all, it was created by God. But the misuse of dopamine can be very destructive. The same chemical that gives me a “charge” every time I plan the next detail of my trip to Virginia will also give me a “charge” every time I view porn. Eventually, if I “quit” Virginia, every passing thought of the great Commonwealth will become tolerable. The same is true with porn. But the sooner you quit, the easier it will become.
Recovery Step: We can all relate to these iconic words. “I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, and be merry’” (Luke 12:19). But be careful. By relaxing and being merry, we also become vulnerable – to addictions of all kinds.