Sex as medication? Think about this…

For many years I’ve used an analogy when talking with men about how porn/sex addiction develops. Many men begin recovery thinking that their problem is that they just have too strong a desire for sex.The truth is, while some men’s sex drives may be unusually high, many men’s addiction has little to do with sex. Sound weird? Think about it using this analogy.

stomachpain-295x300Imagine you have a malignant tumor growing in your stomach. You don’t know what your problem is…you just know that you feel pain and you don’t like it. Now with the information you have, you think that the best thing to do is take 4-5 Advil. A little while after you take them, the pain subsides. Ahhh. Relief.

The problem is, Advil doesn’t cure cancer. So what happened? When you took the Advil, you were numbing the pain, not healing the pain. You had the impression that what you took actually gave you something you needed. But the next time the pain flares up, it’s worse. Why? Because you never actually did anything to treat the source problem. The cancer continues to grow.

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Still unaware of what the root issue is, you now take 8-10 Advil, because now that’s what it takes to take the edge off of the pain. And the next time it’ll take a huge handful. All the while, you’re getting sicker and sicker. Not just from the cancer, but also from taking something that is good and misusing it. No one was meant to take Advil in such unhealthy quantities. Now, you have your kidneys shutting down on top of the ever-growing cancer in your body.

In this analogy, Advil is whatever you run to in order to make your life’s pain go away. The cancer represents pain and trauma we have all experienced in various ways; the roots of many of our emotional struggles. The problem for many of us is that we have never learned how to properly deal with those root issues. Cancer requires a very specific type of treatment. It’s not easy or fun, but it is necessary and very often is effective. This is true of our deep root issues as well. It’s no fun to get to the heart of our trauma, or go to places and acknowledge pain, fears, or abuse we may have suffered along the way.

It’s a lot easier to just grab the medicine.

The Advil can be sex, drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, or whatever we run to in order to avoid actually dealing with our pain. Addiction happens when we take substances or processes that were created good and misuse them. Sex is good and beautiful when it’s used according to its design, within marriage. It becomes destructive when we use porn to meet “needs” we think we have, instead of pursuing healthy relationship.

When we use porn (and typically combine this with masturbation), we activate the pleasure/reward center of our brain. There are chemicals that God designed to be released at appropriate times during the process of sexual arousal and activity. When we use porn, we train our brains to release unhealthy overdoses of chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin, which produces an unhealthy intense “gotta have it” drive, and then bonds us to an experience with an inanimate object like a computer screen rather than to a real person. Over time, many people find significant difficulty having desire or satisfying sexual experiences with their spouse. Covenant Eyes has many great resources to help understand what goes on in an affected brain.

ironbowlstats-300x288A friend sent me a link today to a fairly recent example that underscores the argument that porn is used to medicate pain. At first it seems kind of funny, but really just illustrates the huge, tragic epidemic that exists. Statistics released from one of the top providers of online pornography in the world show that on the day the Crimson Tide played Ohio State in the national football semi-final game, porn use in Alabama spiked by 90% after Alabama lost. 90%. Tell me that Tide fans everywhere weren’t medicating the pain they felt. Tragic. (source: Ian Hoppe, AL.com)

Rather than settle for treating cancer with Advil, what if we actually took the scary but courageous step of getting to the real source of what we feel? What if we were willing to tell someone we were struggling and ask for help? It’s definitely not easy. It’s definitely scary. But isn’t it worth it to get to the source of the problem and find a real solution?


 

(By the way, I’m a big fan of Advil. As long as it’s used in proper dosage, and for its intended purpose. Hey, this analogy keeps on working!)

The Author: Greg Oliver

OliversFBprofileGreg Oliver was a worship pastor for 15 years before his secret addiction to pornography and sex was exposed in January of 2009. Since then he has been on a journey of recovery, coming to know God better and experiencing His grace like never before. He and his wife Stacey have experienced deep healing & restoration within their marriage, and through the ministry of Awaken they walk with individuals, couples, and ministry leaders to help them experience connection and healing in the midst of sexual brokenness.

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