Author: Shernide Delva
Utah has officially declared porn a public health crisis. Republican State Senator Todd Weiler has recognized the destructive, addictive nature of pornography and has recently introduced a resolution to the Utah legislature.
However, critics of the new legislature say it is based on exaggeration and morality rather than scientific evidence on the actual effects of pornography. Furthermore, many argue the senator’s resolution relies more on pseudoscience and has no place in governmental action.
Nonetheless, Weiler suggests that pornography exposure causes low-self-esteem in teens and leads to sexual behaviors. The bill he is pushing suggests that pornography represents a public health crisis.
The senator goes on to claim that pornography is responsible for:
- Damaging teens’ brains
- Affecting the state of marriage
- Increasing the rates of rape and sexual violence
- Causing a host of other social problems.
Weiler is passionate about the porn addiction problem. He has even called on the government of Utah to engage in research and prevention efforts to address this “epidemic.” Is porn responsible for these setbacks? Are these claims fact or fiction?
Digging a bit deeper, one can find a host of arguments for and against Weiler’s statements. One argument points to a massive study conducted in the United Kingdom which actually reveals that the effects of porn on teens were too insubstantial to actually make any true claims. In the study, which reviewed over 40,000 research articles, they found that pornography only explained less than 1% of negative behaviors in teens. The study concluded that blaming pornography for risky sexual behavior is more of a distraction than a solution. Rather, there should be a stronger focus on issues of education, poverty, substance use/mental health and family variables that play a more significant role.
Moving on to the next part of the legislation, Weiler states that pornography serves as a child’s first form of sex education and even forms their sexual templates in the long run. Unfortunately, this has been seen to be true in most cases. Often, a young person’s first exposure to sexuality is found to be through pornography.
However, many hope the legislation will push towards focusing on sex education efforts for youth in Utah, rather than the addiction in general. Sex education is a huge issue across the United States. Many states, like Utah, have an emphasis on abstinence-only sex education rather than exploring other more effective options. This could be a very significant setback.
Next question: Is pornography really a biological addiction?
One article reveals actually has been a wealth of research that correlates porn access to a reduction of sexual violence and sexual crimes. Still, other articles correlate porn with an increase in sexual violence. Science remains unsure if porn addiction is a true addiction.
Furthermore, the final terms of Weiler’s bill is strongly considered a conservative ideology. Weiler seems to believe that it is only men who watch porn and women who are abused by it. Throughout the resolution, it seems that Weiler’s main concern is that pornography reduces the desire for males to marry women and have children. However, studies show that many women view pornography as well.
According to several reports, Utah has the highest rates of pornography in the United States. Weiler believes that pornography is a “gateway” behavior that affects the brains of teenagers. However, in a strange chicken-egg debate, critics argue if whether pornography is the problem, or if underlying issues cause the increase in pornography use.
Whether you believe in porn addiction or not, addiction is a wide spectrum disorder, and it does not always have to be substance abuse. Other addictions are common and real. If you feel like you are struggling to overcome an addiction, the time is now to explore your treatment options. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and psychological stress. The therapy was originally developed by American psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s primarily as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since the therapy has been able to help millions overcome psychological distress, the focus is now on whether EMDR therapy could be utilized to help addicts overcome their addictions and progress further into recovery.
But What is EMDR?
EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment which implements special eye movements to identify experiences that have overwhelmed the brain’s natural resilience or coping capacity. Often, people who go through traumas such as war, rape assault, sexual abuse and others, have generated traumatic symptoms and harmful coping strategies.
When a person experiences a trauma, they usually acquire traumatic symptoms such as flashbacks, anxiety and insomnia. They may engage in isolating behavior and self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Through EMDR therapy, patients are able to learn how to reprocess traumatic information until it is no longer psychologically disruptive.
In EMDR therapy, there are several phases of treatment. The initial phase is going through a client’s history followed by a preparation stage. In the Rapid Eye Movement phase, the person focuses on a traumatic or troubling memory and identifies the belief they have about themselves in relation to that negative memory. An example would be a woman who associates the trauma of her being rape to her being dirty. The EMDR therapy wants to shift the thought of rape signaling the “I am dirty” response and shift it to “I am a worthwhile good person in control of my life” response. By teaching the brain how to respond in a different way to trauma, the patient learns how to shift their view on their traumatic memories in a healthier way.
To allow this to occur, the person must go over the memory repetitively and focus on the external stimulus that creates bilateral eye movement. Our brains naturally signal eye movements as a response to emotional stimuli. However, overtime, our body’s ability to cope with pain weakens. In EMDR therapy, the therapist may guide the client’s eye by moving their finger.
After each set of bilateral movements, the individual is asked how they feel. The process continues until the memory is no longer disturbing. Each session lasts about an hour. Many patients see significant improvement after just one session. It is believed that EMDR therapy is effective because it by-passes the areas of the brain that have become stuck due to trauma and prevents the left-side of the brain from self-soothing the right side of the brain.
How EMDR Could Help With Addiction
During EMDR therapy, patients learn to “process” memories in a way that leads to a peaceful resolution. When it comes to addiction, often people try to cope with trauma or psychological issues through abusing substances. Jamie Marich, PhD., believes that EMDR is a complete therapy that can be used to combat issues such as addiction.
“If we accept that unhealed traumatic wounds play a major role in causing or at the very least exacerbating the seriousness of substance use and addictive disorders, yes, EMDR therapy can be very effective.”
Marich continues by explaining the EMDR can be an effective relapse prevention/recovery enhancement strategy that truly targets trauma. Unhealed PTSD and other trauma-related disorder pose a clear relapse risk. By learning a series of EMDR protocols, therapists are able to teach their clients how to target cravings and feelings and let go of the addictive manifestations brought on from trauma.
“Since the beginning of my journey with EMDR in 2004, I’ve long viewed it as an effective relapse prevention/recovery enhancement strategy that truly targets trauma. It’s been clear to me from the beginning of my own journey with recovery, and as a treatment provider, that unhealed PTSD and other trauma-related disorders pose a clear relapse risk.”
If successfully implemented, EMDR can play a major role in addiction treatment. Many people come into addiction treatment with PTSD and EMDR is an effective method of treating PTSD. Addicts are often traumatized by their past or from traumas that relate to their drug use. EMDR provides tools to treat the underlying problems.
Learning how to process past traumas can be extremely beneficial for those trying to overcome addiction. Substances are often used as a way to cope with underlying psychological distress. Learning to overcome the distress can help prevent relapse and aid in successful recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Growing up, maybe you were athletic or maybe, like me, you were just plain clumsy. Either way, if you suffered a concussive bump on the head as a child, you could be at a higher risk to abuse alcohol as an adult. That’s right; a study just discovered the two are correlated. Recent research suggests that women who suffered a concussive bump in the head during childhood abused alcohol more as adults.
The research on mice found that females with a mild close-brain injury were more likely to misuse alcohol in adulthood and associate drinking with reward and pleasure. In the study, mice received a concussive head injury at 21 days, which is comparable to between 6 and 12 years old in human years.
Physiological tests suggested that the head injury was not related to changing how alcohol was processed. Instead, it changed how the female mice associated alcohol with pleasure. Research were motivated to find out exactly how female mice linked alcohol to potential award.
In the experiment, mice were placed in a box with visibly different patterns covering separate different sections of the floor. Over 10 days, researchers injected the mice with alcohol in specific sections of the box and with saline in other sections.
Then the researchers allowed the mice to walk back and forth between boxes. If they preferred alcohol, they would stay on the side of the box associated with alcohol consumption. Female mice who suffered brain injury spent 65 percent of their time in the box linked to alcohol. The researchers concluded that there must be something about the way reward and pleasure is processed in the mice regarding alcohol.
The Effects of Enrichment
The scientists wanted to see if enrichment would reverse the effect of alcohol on the female mice. In studying the effects of enrichment, the colleagues put the female mice that were more attracted to alcohol in cages with running wheels, toys, and tunnels providing a new experience every week for six weeks. When the mice were tested in six weeks for alcohol intake, the enriched environment has completely blocked the female’s increase in drinking. It also reduced damage in their brains by about 40 percent.
They found out the effect of alcohol abuse was reversible as long as the female mice began living in a more enriched environment. The environment even reduced degeneration of parts of the axons, and nerve cell body of the brain.
The enriched environment was to mimic follow-up care after a human brain industry, explained by lead author of the study Zachary Well:
“The best therapy for a childhood brain injury is everybody getting great medical care and rehabilitation, regardless of socioeconomic status,” he said. “People with juvenile head injuries are already at risk for memory problems, difficulty concentrating, poor learning and reduced impulse control. If we can prevent alcohol misuse, chances for a good life are much better.”
So the question still is whether it’s possible that brain injury you experienced during you juvenile years would make you more prone to heavy drinking later on. Alcohol is already associated with traumatic brain injury. More than a third of concussion patients are intoxicated at the time of their injuries
Weil states that his researchers hope to determine more about whether those prone to heavy drinking are then prone to traumatic brain injury as an adult:
“There is some evidence that if you have a brain injury, you’re more likely to drink. But nobody has looked at the time of the injury and nobody has looked at sex differences.”
The results for females are particularly concerning because the two populations increasing in traumatic brain injury are elderly adults and young women. These are not just athletes, Weil said, there is more research needed to understand why the injury effects are different between men and women.
Until more research is done, we won’t have any solid answers of whether or not brain injury we experience as a child makes us more prone to alcohol problems. Regardless, if you are abusing alcohol, it’s time to take control on your life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
Pornography Addiction: Is it real?
Currently, porn addiction is not a diagnosis listed in DSM-5. “Viewing online pornography” is mentioned in the diagnostic manual but, it is not considered a mental disorder either.
The current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) now includes a section for behavioral addictions; however, includes only one such disorder: pathological gambling, or gambling addiction (also compulsive gambling). Also as it stands right now, there is only one other behavioral addiction proposed for further study in the DSM-5, and that is internet gaming disorder. Due to a lack of research, porn addiction is not currently being considered an addition to this ‘behavioral addiction’ section of the manual.
Pornography Addiction: XXX Edition
Although not recognized as a real disorder at the time of this writing, there are many people out there who would argue that viewing porn can – and does – become an addiction for some.
Let’s break down what we understand about porn addiction.
Identifying an porn addict
Again, although not recognized in the DSM-5, therapists are beginning to take the condition seriously when it comes to their practices. Further, it can be argued that porn addiction is as real as any other in that the same criteria used for determining whether someone is addicted to porn are much the same as the ones used to identify other addictions. These criteria mainly revolve around the dependence on the behavior or substance (in this case, pornography) at the expense of other aspects of life.
For instance, if your viewing, reading, or thinking about pornography is negatively impacting your life, interfering with your work, your personal relationships, your family life, and/or your social interactions, it has become a problem.
Some porn addicts can’t perform sexually without the stimulation of pornography and often build a up a tolerance, similarly to that which occurs with drug addiction. Porn addiction may be a part of a more extensive sex addiction.
Five Stages of Porn Addiction
- Early exposure
Most people who become addicted to porn have been exposed to it at an early age. They see the stuff when they are very young, making an impression. This can be the beginning of certain obsessions and fetishes.
After a while, you start to look for more and more graphic porn. You start using porn that would have disgusted you when you started. Now, it’s something that excites you.
Eventually, you become numb. Even the most graphic, degrading porn doesn’t excite you anymore. You become desperate to feel the same thrill again but can’t find it. Again, this is similar to drug addiction in that you are chasing that ‘high’ you used to get earlier on in your porn use.
- Acting out sexually
At this point, you might make the dangerous leap to start acting out sexually on your specific fantasies. Basically, at this point, your sexual obsessions have moved from porn magazines and porn web sites out into the real world.
This is basically been developing all along. But now, you’re experiencing full-blown porn addiction. You keep going back to porn; it’s the only thing that gets you off. Porn becomes a regular part of your life. You’re hooked. You don’t feel like you can quit.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug addiction or a behavioral addiction, help is available. Many times, people with a history of addiction replace their previous addictions with other obsessions. This is common. But help is available in the form of specialized treatment designed to address the underlying issues of an addiction, or multiple addictions. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
By Cheryl Steinberg
Sex on the brain? Is it more often than what’s “normal?” Is your libido out of control? Sexual addiction is a real thing just like drug addiction, and, in fact, the tell-tale signs are very similar between the two. Below is a list of 12 signs you’re a sex addict.
#1. You live a double life
Maybe you cheat all the time, and lie about where you are, and how you spend your money. These are early indications of a possible problem. But, if you have sexual secrets that you refuse to share with anyone and keep these to yourself at the expense of your real relationships, this is definitely a problem.
#2. You exploit others for sex
When it comes to sex, you couldn’t care less about people. They are just objects to use. You don’t care what happens to them when you are done with them, and you will do anything to get them to do what you want.
#3. Your life is constantly in crisis
Because sex is your number one priority, everything else is always totally messed up. Everything from school, to work, to money, is secondary to feeding your addiction.
#4. You’re preoccupied with sex
You find that you’re having obsessive thoughts about sex, which distract you more than the occasional daydream fantasizing.
#5. You have sex without regard to potential consequences
If you are doing things that are going to screw you over in the future, and you KNOW they are going to screw you over in the future, then your sex life has crossed the line and is now officially a problem.
#6. Your kink needs to be fed more and more
Most people have their “kinks,” but, if the kink you have becomes your whole world, and you need to continuously push the sexual envelope in order to get off, you might be a sex addict. What starts off as fun can wind up being severely destructive down the road.
#7. You risk your health and safety
Similar to drug addiction, the sex addict will engage in increasingly risky behaviors in order to fulfill their need for a fix. Risky behaviors related to sexual addiction include having multiple partners, having unprotected sex, or sex with strangers as well as hooking up with anonymous people met online or at bars. This increases the risk of encountering physical danger as well as contracting a sexually transmitted disease and, because of the secretive nature of sex addiction, you can go on to infect your spouse or partner as well.
#8. You masturbate all the time
If you have an active sex life and still find that you need to masturbate several times a day and even after just having sex, there might be some kind of problem. If this describes you as well as some of the other 12 signs you’re a sex addict that are on this list, you just might be a sex addict.
#9. Your relationships are always messed up
You gradually and eventually replace time spent with friends and family with a continual pursuit of activities for your sexual gratification. Time with friends and family loses its appeal, because the sex addict can no longer get pleasure from the simple things in life. Eventually most sex addicts will even give up sex with committed partners to pursue the types of sexual gratification that feed their addiction.
#10. You experience financial problems due to your obsession
A sex addict can become so entrenched in their sexual addiction that their taking too much time away from work or they might be spending large amounts of money to support their sex addiction, which can result in destroying family finances, just like a drug addiction.
Sexual addiction can manifest as internet porn, being a collector of pornographic materials, spending a lot of time and money at strip clubs, or on prostitutes. A sexual addiction can be costly to maintain and frequently sexual addicts eventually come to the point where they cannot feed their addiction and keep a job at the same time.
#11. You feel powerless
Just like the drug addict can’t stop using drugs, even though they want to, you can’t stop acting out. Even when you see how negatively it’s affecting your life and the lives of your loved ones. You try to stop – or wish you could – but simply cannot.
#12. You hate yourself
As a sex addict, you become aware that you’re going through life hurting other people and destroying yourself, which will likely cause you to hate yourself. Just like with drug addicts, there is so much shame and guilt involved in the addiction that the addict internalizes all that negative stigma attached to their condition.
Addiction comes in many forms and affects people across age, gender, ethnic, cultural, and social lines. Often times, people who struggle with one type of addiction also struggle with one or more other types of addiction. Or else, if they initially figure out how to cope with their sex addiction, for example, they might start acting out in other ways – indicative of other addictions, such as gambling addiction, shopping addiction, or internet addiction. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today to find out what you can do to turn your life around and get back on track.