What Happens To Your Brain When You Relapse To Porn? (Video)

What Happens In Your Brain When You Relapse To Porn?

Ever wondered what exactly happens in your brain when you relapse to porn?

Well, if so, you've come to the right website because, although I'm not an anti porn preacher, I do have a personal history of having had to go through the difficult process of overcoming a porn addiction.

So, this is why today's subject is near and dear to my heart…

…or brain.

Let's get to it…

This is what happens inside your brain when you relapse to porn…

If it's a long relapse…

Let's first make it clear that porn relapses come in many shapes and forms.

And some relapses are more destructive than others.

If you have one of those long and nasty relapses where you spend more than an hour of clicking from video to video, only spending a few second on each then….

A) You numb your pleasure center…

The neurobiological term for this “desensitization”.

It basically means that your reward system -your dopamine system- becomes less sensitive to dopamine.

This is not good because that menas that you need more and potent sources of dopamine in order to feel the same effects. Perhaps you've already noticed it, in form escalating to harder, more extreme and more shocking stuff? Yes, you guessed it, desensitization is the biological mechanism behind what we call “tolerance”.

A numb pleasure center (desensitization) is not something that only shows itself in your porn use. It actually affects everyday life. This is because, again, if desensitized you're less sensitive to dopamine. And many day to day activities also release a small amount of dopamine.

For example things lie…

  • Working on your goals
  • Drinking water
  • Eating food
  • Shopping
  • Listening to music
  • Having sex
  • Socializing
  • Playing a game (video game or not)

…etc…

…well, if you're less sensitive to dopamine, all those day to day activities will start feeling less and less appealing as your desensitization progresses.

They simply pale in comparison to the super-stimulating online porn.

How quickly does the “numbing”happen – and do I have to be addicted to porn in order to suffer from it?

Good question.

Let's start by saying that you don't need to be an addict in order for desensitization to take place. That said, almost all addicts are desensitized. In fact, desensitization is one of the four major brain changes that happens in addicts brain (more on this further down).

Desensitization (tolerance / numbing) happens if dopamine has been very high for too long (or too often), making the person need more and more to feel the same effects.

How quickly does it happen?

The numbing can take place pretty quickly. For example, in rats they have seen that gorging on junk food dialed down their dopamine sensitivity within just a few days.

One big porn relapse, that lasts several hours, will probably already desensitize you a quite a bit. Regularly engaging in these marathon session is obviously even worse.

Online porn can be particularly bad because you can override your natural satiation mechanism. This with the help of novel porn actors, endless different angles, new exciting and shocking categories etc. It's literally dopamine on demand…by using a the click of a mouse.

Desensitization can reverse itself…

The good news is that this desensitization can reverse itself, making your brain regain its sensitivity to dopamine, as soon as you take a break from whatever stimuli you used to numb yourself in the first place.

Further down we are going to take a look at how long this takes.

If it's a shorter relapse…

Ok, so what about shorter relapses then?

What happens in you brain when you have a short porn relapse?

Well, if  you have a shorter relapse, you know, one of those relapses where you just feel and urge, open a porn site and do your deed within 10 minutes or so, then…

B) You create a “a memory” of pleasure in your brain – A.k.a sensitization

No matter how short the relapse is, every time you give in to a craving, you strengthen the addiction part a bit.

Even if it's just a matter of giving in and watching porn for 3 minutes, you're essentially showing your brain where the reward is to be found…

…and it will remember!

It is this ‘remembering' that is called sensitization. Every time you give in, you strengthen the sensitized pathways in your brain. Sensitization sbasically means “a super memory of pleasure”

Desensitization and sensitization are not the same thing…

Now, don't confuse sensitization with desensitization. They both belong in the group of addiction related brain changes, but they're not the same thing.

Desensitization, as we already talked about, means a general dialing down of your sensitivity to dopamine. Sensitization basically means that you become much more sensitive to triggers.

To learn: sensitization is what is giving you powerful cravings to act out and use your drug of choice (in this case porn).

What's a trigger then?

Well, a trigger is something that reminds you of your drug (in this case, porn). It could be a hot Instagram model, or a booty shaking video on YouTube, or even just sitting down at your laptop after coming home from work.

  • Desensitization => a numb pleasure respons
  • Sensitization => you become more sensitive to triggers

So, again, every time you give in to a trigger, you strengthen the sensitized pathways a bit.

The strengthening of your sensitized pathways does obviously also happen with long relapses. But unlike desensitization, the forming of sensitization is more about the act of “giving in” to your urges, more than the length of your fapping session.

  • The more often you give in to your urges, the more you strengthen you super memory (sensitization).
  • The longer your sessions are, the more you are numbing yourself (desensitization).

Another thing that happens to your brain when you relapse to porn is that…

C) You weaken your prefrontal cortex (PFC)

Your prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain that can be found right behind your forehead.

This is the part that is responsible for¨things like for example,  planning, attention, pondering consequences and self control.

The prefrontal cortex is responsible for preventing you from punching your boss in the face when he gives you a particularly annoying comment, after asking you to work overtime on Thursday. In other words, your PFC is supposed to prevent you from doing stupid things that you know would lead to a bad outcome.

A weaker PFC makes your life much harder…

A weaker PFC means less self discipline and less control over self in general.

Just like with the sensitized pathways, each time you give in to a porn craving, here too you affect your PFC a bit. But with this brain change you're not making it stronger, you're actually making it weaker.

It makes you have less self control over everything – not just porn 

This is bad because, obviously, having a weaker self control center is going to make staying away from porn even porn difficult in the future. And not just staying away from porn, but also staying away from grabbing a second donut with your coffee, on a stressful day at work, when you're on a a diet.

A useful way to put it…

  • Each time you notice a craving, but you do not give in => you strengthen your PFC a bit.
  • Each time you notice a craving and you act on it => you weaken your PFC a bit.

I personally find it helpful to look at this kind of like building muscles in the gym…

…Each time I get a strong urge to do something that I know I shouldn't be doing, and I manage to stay away from it, I look at it as doing one more rep for my PFC, instead of a rep for my biceps in the gym. Yes, you can literally put in reps to start building your “self control muscle”.

So remember, what happens in your brain each time you're relapsing to porn is that you are weakening your PFC by failing to put in a rep by your “self control muscle”.

For a fun and interesting way of learning more about these brain changes, consider watching a two part video series I have created.

You'll discover more fascinating things about the brain changes we've been talking about, plus gain insights into some helpful recovery tools as well.

Take a look at what happens in your brain when you relapse to porn now…

PART 1

PART 2

If you found the video series informative, consider checking out my YT channel here.

 How long does it take to reverse the brain changes after quitting porn?

This is highly individual and there are also many factors that play a part in how long the reversal takes.

Factors like, for example…

  • You history of porn use…
    (how much, how often, how long was the sessions)
  • What age you started using online porn…
    (the earlier, the worse)
  • How you used porn…
    (a lot of clicking and jumping from video to video during a session is worse, etc)
  • Sexual experiences in real life…
    (before, during and after porn entered your life)
  • You lifestyle after quitting…
    (healthy living generally means faster recover)
  • Whether or not you're over consuming other supernormal stimuli…
    (other things, besides porn, that may desensitize your dopamine system)

So, as you can see, it is literally impossible to give an exact answer to how long it's going to take…

…however:

90 Days is a milestone where most people have started seeing a big improvement in life quality…

In general, however, one can say that after 90 days away from porn, most people notice a significant improvement in life quality.

That said, there are some people who need far more time than that. And the other way around is also true, some people start feeling a lot better way sooner than that.

Desensitization can fully heal – but the sensitized pathways will forever be there…

If you watched the two videos above, you now know a lot more about the four major brain changes.

The reduced sensitivity to dopamine (desensitization) will improve, and even fully heal with a long enough time away from porn. But the sensitized pathways will forever be there, deep inside the brain.

This is why relapses can happen, months, and even years after an addict has stopped using his drug of choice.

While this may sound discouraging you should know that the sensitized pathways do become weaker and, with time, they will even fall asleep. So, it's not like you're going to be ridden by strong cravings and urges from now on forward, forever and ever, but you do have to be a bit careful not to wake them up again…

…probably for the rest of your life, if you've fit the criteria for having had a real porn addiction, that is.

GRAB MY…

Is there anything we can do to speed up the process?

General healthy living!

In addition, the following things have been shown to help up-regulate the dopamine system…

  • Intermittent fasting
  • High intensity exercise (H.I.T.)
  • Cold showers
  • CDP-Choline (check pricing on Amazon)
  • Meditation (potentially)
  • Inositol  (check pricing on Amazon)

So far there are not a lot of studies on those supplements, but the few I've found shows promising results. However, know that you will probably not need any kind of supplements in order to recover. You will recover just by staying away from porn and other supernormal stimuli, while simultaneously living a healthy lifestyle.

Other supernormal stimulations to limit or stay away from…

  • Too much aimless social media / internet browsing
  • Too much junk food
  • Too much alcohol
  • Other drugs

Check out the best porn blocker & accountability software CovenantEyes
(Use promo code STRONGER when signing up to get 30 days FREE…)

 

How much is too much?

Now, the next logical question then becomes, how much is too much?

Well, nobody knows the exact answer to that, as each one of us reacts differently to different stimuli. On top of that it also depends on HOW you are using them.

As a general rule, I personally try to not exceed two hours of aimless broswing a day. I also take some time off internet and social media each day by shutting everything down a few hours before I go to bed.

In addition, I try to stay away from alcohol and eat a healthy diet, on most days of the week, while indulging a bit perhaps 1-2 times a week…

…perhaps you could consider doing something similar?

Will I slow down my recovery if I exceed that amount?

Maybe a bit.

How much?

Again, no one can give you an exact answer to that. Neither can I, but I do have some theories. There's not like there's a ‘magical' limit that, once you cross you will never recover. Desensitization is not an on / off thing. It is a spectrum.

If you want to reach out to me personally to discuss recovery, you can find my contact page right here.

Could I completely prevent recovery if I use too much of the other good stuff?

In the worst case scenario, probably yes. But would guess that you really have to live a super unhealthy lifestyle in order to completely halt your progress.

That said, I have had clients who never saw much improvements even with more than a year away from porn until they started cutting down on alcohol, started adding some physical exercise and a bit more healthy eating into their lives.

Again, we are all different, and things like this is very difficult to give an exact answer to.

Thanks for reading!

-Scandinavian Bob-


Discover >a good online course for quitting porn<


 

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