There are two kinds of addictions. Chemical addictions begin with the practice of ingesting a substance like cocaine, nicotine, alcohol, methamphetamine, or heroin. A process addiction is characterized by extreme devotion to activities like sex, gambling, work, shopping, video games, or even unnatural attachments to other people or causes. Those who study brain functions say the effect of chemical and process addictions are similar. Both release a naturally occurring chemical called dopamine into the pleasure center of the user’s brain. Herein lies the value of addictions to the addict. They take away pain.
The amazing and terrible truth about addictions is… they work! No one would use drugs if they did not possess some seemingly positive and immediate benefits. Process and chemical drug abuse anesthetizes, medicates, and softens the negative realities of our existence. They release a shot of dopamine and ‘take the edge off’ emotional pain. If we start from the premise that all people carry some level of internal pain, then it is easy to understand the theoretical reason behind addiction and, as some have claimed, "Everyone is addicted to something."
Of course, it is monumentally difficult for most people to admit they have addictive tendencies, much less adopt for themselves the “addict” label. Even those in active recovery find it extraordinarily challenging to make the connection between the pain caused by their own unresolved issues and the pattern of their addictive lifestyles. Denial plays a huge role in the addict’s thought process. What we may understand conceptually, or see so readily in others, is almost impossible to recognize in ourselves.
Consider, for example, the husband and wife in a heated argument. They are suffering from long-term and intense marital discord and, like so many spats in the past, they cannot achieve resolution. The couple parts in a huff and, after his wife and kids go to bed, the man heads to the computer to view online pornography. Why? No conscious choice is made. Rather, without thinking, the husband instinctively seeks comfort in a decades-old habit of seeking immediate solace for his wounded soul. Instead of making the courageous decision to seek help and fix his marriage, our subject migrates toward what he knows from experience will actually work to mitigate his suffering right now. He will do whatever it takes to get his momentary rush of dopamine.
People who exhibit addictive sexual behavior patterns are not bad people. They are hurting people with the buildup of layers of emotional pain; in some cases, dating back to childhood. When they were too young to know better, they became desperate to find a solution to the traumas that beleaguered their preadolescent souls.
423 Men and 423 Women is an organization dedicated to helping people discover the reasons for, and eventually overcome, their unhealthy sexual habits. While there are differences between female and male sexual coping behaviors, as described in the quote from a World of Psychology article below, recent studies have shown that one third of all porn users are women.
We are living in a generation like no other one preceding. Never in the history of the world has pornographic sex been so readily available. In the mid-nineties, America Online (AOL) made World Wide Web access an open door for anyone with a dial-up modem and a personal computer. For the past twenty years, the Internet has made porn accessible, affordable, and anonymous (“The Three A’s”). Today's youth no longer need find the elusive 'dirty magazine' to stimulate their sexual fantasies and get their dopamine fix. They now have 'smart phones.' Ask yourself this question: "What fourteen year old boy can resist the lure of graphic porn literally dangling at his fingertips?"
Sexual curiosity usually begins for boys before puberty. Males start exploring pornography most commonly around the age of ten. The majority of experts agree that the human brain is not fully developed until the mid- or late twenties. During the developmental stage, a boy may secretly and routinely fill his mind with graphic sexual images, especially when faced with difficulties like conflicts with siblings and parents, rejection at school, or failing grades. His brain creates neuropathways which become entrenched as his way of dealing with emotional pain. Should it surprise us when a man instinctively heads for online porn when he feels angry, hurt, lonely, stressed, tired, or bored? Of course not. He’s been going there since he was ten years old! The old, familiar rush of dopamine is too powerful to ignore.
The stakes are high. Unchecked, the addictive cycle will progress and destroy all that is good in the lives of good and hurting people.
There is hope. Join a 423 Community today.
 “The Stats on Internet Pornography,” Infographic: http://gizmodo.com/5552899/finally-some-actual-stats-on-internet-porn.
 America Online was founded in 1985 under the name Quantum Computer Services. The company surpassed 500,000 members in 1993, the same year that its mass disc mailings made AOL a household name. By 1995 AOL had grown to one million members.