“But porn isn’t an addiction for women. It really isn’t an addiction at all. It is just a bad habit. It is a habitual sin.”
Over the past three years, I have heard many variations of this response. At first, I got defensive, angered by people who would downplay the pain and struggle of a pornography addiction. For the most part though, it is just that people don’t understand.
People don’t understand how people can be addicted to pornography, and I know, it does not make sense– addictions don’t make sense.
We try to find a way to stomach it. Some dumb down the ‘pornography’ thinking of it as ‘simply’ erotica, romance, or soft-core pornography. This has been known as ‘femme porn’ for a while, so it is far easier to think that a woman could be addicted to this. Others choose to dilute the power of the word ‘addiction.’ Instead, they say it is a ‘bad habit,’ making porn the same as picking your nose or biting your fingernails.
An addiction does have a pattern, so it is, in a way habitual. An addiction, though, is far different from a habit.
According to Miriam-Webster:
A habit is an acquired mode of behaviour that has become nearly or almost completely involuntary.
An addiction is a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance.
Boiled down, a habit is how I behave. An addiction is something I need.
Addiction could be defined as slavery to a habit. There was a point when pornography was just a habit for me, but that time was short. When I attempted to stop viewing pornography, I recognized that I was addicted. It was more than just ‘oops, I forgot I shouldn’t chew my nails;’ it was a deep-seated yearning for porn. I wanted it; I needed it; I had to do it. I could not say no. Being deprived of it caused anger, frustration, and physical pain. Not having access to it or ability to indulge completely wrecked my day.
Pornography addiction is real. The effects of pornography on the brain are similar to effects caused by narcotic drugs. It cannot be downsized or minimalized to be equal to twirling your hair or chewing your pen cap. It is a serious, devastating and powerful addiction.
It would be similar to being addicted to poison. Imagine for one moment that your body decided you needed to breathe water, instead of air. Your body is not designed to breathe water. Breathing water causes pain, does damage, and leads to death. The same is true with pornography.
No matter the pain, the damage, or the relationships that die, an addict presses on.
No, it does not make sense. It does not make sense that good, “perfectly normal” people would be addicted to something that robs others of their worth. It is hard to understand. It is hard to believe. It’s just as hard for an addict to understand. That’s why we need God’s strength, power, and grace. He came to free us from sin, bad habits, and addictions.