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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:14 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:59 pm
Posts: 76
Location: East coast
Hello RN, it's been a while since I've been here, but something happened tonight that triggered some memories...

As some of you know, when I filed for divorce, my H petitioned the court and forced me into additional marriage counseling. At the end of the court ordered MC, my H was able to convince 2 of my boys to participate in family counseling (the 3rd had a summer job out of state). In the beginning of the first family session, the counselor told us all that Viewing pornography changes brain chemistry and also affects the same areas of the brain as heroin. To me, that makes sense given that it seems like there's not a lot of those trying to recover who are truly successful? Am I missing something here?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:26 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:06 pm
Posts: 28
Wow,
That comment has obviously made an impact on you and given you a lot of questions...
I felt I had to reply just to through my comments in if that is okay?

More importantly - how do you feel about that comment?
Sometimes when we are given information from a professional, we take it to be the absolute truth and evidence. My own limited knowledge of Biology (and as my previous work as a alcohol and drug rehabilitator before becoming a teacher)
Yes, there is evidence to suggest that it is not the substance that people get addicted to but the altered brain chemistry as a response to that substance behaviour. That said some substances are more easy to get addicted to because of the manner in which they will flood the brain such as heroin.

Other substances are just as easy to get hooked into such as sugar, caffeine and cigarettes.

I find that comment from your counsellor a little generalised (although I do not know what context it was given in - for example to 'excuse' the addiction?

For example - not everyone who uses heroin gets addicted or suffers death through addiction.
Everyday all over this planet people are giving up sugar and losing weight, improving their health. Quitting smoking etc etc.

I understand that in addition to the brain responses to the stimuli and the habit/ ritual that is involved in addiction (particularly over a long period of time) that it is time consuming and challenging to overcome. But to write it off as something so simple, when it is clearly so complex - including genetics etc seems a bit of a cop out.

What I am trying to say is surely free will comes into it? Heroin users often seek help as their lives become so dysfunctional (crime. severe health) The truly successful reformed addicts often use several approaches to beat addiction, understanding the dark side of their habit (heroin used to support terrorism, the underworld life that is far from glamorous)

No one becomes an addict overnight. The alcoholic did not one day suddenly drink a bottle of whiskey before work, it would have taken time to build up the body's ability to tolerate that amount of alcohol and immunity of it.

Although watching pornography would have undoubtedly flood the pleasure centres of certain individuals, it would be extremely unlikely that they would have become an addict straight away.

This book explains it better than I ever could The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change Paperback – 7 Feb 2013
by Charles Duhigg

But again addiction is selective - some cultures or individuals would never get addicted to certain things because it just does not do it for them. I personally would never get addicted to porn as I just do not really enjoy watching it.

So for your counsellor to say that is very generalised. A SA having other underlying problems/issues and free will chooses to watch porn for distraction and enjoyment. Repeating this over time, retrains the brain into habit and chemistry responses to feel good.

At any time it is their choice to say enough - I got into this and now I can get out. Personally I do not agree with professionals who simplify the human experience to such basic actions.

If this was the case, millions of people over the world would not change circumstances every single day.

The SA can stop, but this kind of comment only reinforces an argument for helplessness and ongoing justification. Yes it is difficult, but we are not slaves to our brain chemistry!!

More importantly how do you feel about that comment? does it sit well with you?

Sending strength :g:


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:48 am 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 661
Hi - I think Toffeetimetraveler has asked an important question: what is the emotional impact on you of this comment about pornography affecting the brain like heroin does?

I personally think it is probably true but have also seen there is some controversy about this. For me, if it is true, I have mixed emotions. It can give me a bit more empathy about my husband's addiction and the challenges he faces, and at the same time it can feel like an excuse for him not to recover. The reality is people can and do recover from heroin and sex addiction (and other addictions). I'm a recovered alcoholic. Now I know substance addictions are different from fantasy addictions and probably "easier" to overcome. I can live without alcohol; we don't want to live without sex. I do agree that some of us are more susceptible to becoming addicted. Clearly my husband's sex/love addictions are a result of trauma in his childhood. But not all traumatized people become addicts.

i do believe sex/love addicts can recover IF they are truly sincere in wanting to recover, and IF they give it enough time, and IF they get the right support. But, the scary reality is the first IF: are they truly sincerein wanting to recover.

Thinking of you,
dnell


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:11 am 
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Partner's Coach (Admin)

Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:07 pm
Posts: 5200
While what the counsellor said is likely true (“likely” because with any theory that is not absolutely proven or that is up for interpretation, one cannot make such definitive claims--brain research is still very new and much of what we know about the brain is not accepted as fact but as significant probabilities). As toffeetimetravellor commented, the counsellor over-generalized. In addition to the counsellor's statement, there was an interpretation that followed in that “alters the brain chemistry” was taken to mean that this is an indelible event. Brain research is showing that the brain is a “plastic” organ, meaning that it is dynamic and malleable, undergoing constant growth and change. Neurons die, and neurons are newly created. It is not just substances which triggers the reward centres in the brain that can alter one’s brain chemistry—every stimulus we are exposed to on some level alters our brain chemistry by a process we are all very familiar with—learning. There are so many factors that come to bear on what we learn. Some are controllable (e.g. what we deliberately expose ourselves to) and most are not. Some factors are environmental, some are biological. Some people are more susceptible to addiction than others. But this does not mean that everyone who has a genetic predisposition or potential is going to have that gene expressed. Environmental factors are often required to “turn on” the gene.

Also, to echo toffetimetravellor’s comment about heroine users seek help—Coach Jon framed it well saying that the person with addiction will seek recovery when the pain of the addiction is greater than the pain of not having the addiction. There is a huge factor of choice, even if to the person with addiction it doesn’t occur as such. Unfortunately, motivation is not something we can inspire in another—they have to find their motivation autonomously. Although, we can teach or hinder motivation —again, not a simply either-or thing. Just as the brain is a dynamic organ, we are also dynamic as is every living thing—we interact with our environment in visible and invisible ways, and we affect and are affected by everything around us. This is why mindfulness is such a powerful skill, because in being mindful we can impact the effect of the information coming in. We better learn what we pay attention to. Being mindful is to be intentional in our absorbing of stimuli. What we don’t pay attention to also impacts us and I’d say in subtle and somewhat more dangerous ways. We take the things we often don’t pay attention to for granted. But, paying attention takes effort, so we are built to learn things in such a way as to no longer have to pay attention to it, to free up our energies for learning new things.

Be well.

_________________
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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