Dopamine and the semantics of addiction

Discussion in 'Porn Addiction' started by franco216, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. franco216

    franco216 Fapstronaut

    Sometimes I read how people here are "addicted to dopamine" or "craving the dopamine rush".

    I want to point out that this is not accurate. What I'm going to say might come off as nitpicking, but there are potentially important implications.

    So what's wrong with saying "I'm addicted to dopamine"?

    Dopamine plays an important role in the process of addiction.

    One reason you can get addicted to PMO or other things is the dopmaine rush you get.

    But what you are addicted to is not the Dopamine itself but e.g. the orgasm - or the arousal during PM. Dopamine is part of the reward mechanism and thus is part of the addiction mechanism. You can't get addicted to the mechanism of addiction. That's just nonsensical. But that's exactly what you are saying.

    Dopamine is not the sensation of pleasure, either.

    The actual relation is far more subtle. You can't feel the dopamine rush. What you feel are your emotions and their connection to hormones and thoughts consists of several layers and mechanisms (where, again Dopamine plays a certain part).

    Dopamine is probably mainly responsible for coming back to the self-destructive habit (the addiction). That happens subconsciously though.

    Same thing with craving: The reason why I'm craving, is (partly) Dopamine. But I'm not craving Dopamine itself. I'm craving arousal, retreat to fantasy, porn, excitement and the feeling of relaxation afterwards.

    "Fine. Got it. You are indeed nitpicking. What's the point?"

    By using the word "Dopamine" people imply an insight into their addiction that isn't there at all. Everyone pretends they understand something about there addiction, while they are oblivious to an important insight. Personally, my most important insight. The whole porn addiction is reduced as a challenge to one's willpower. A lot of people believe they "have to resist the temptation long enough" and this is how they "fight" their addiction.

    But look: What if the temptation is part of your addiction (well, obviously) and your "fighting the temptation" is often wasted effort.

    Remember: it's the addiction mechanism, including the Dopamine, that brings about the temptation in the first place.

    Can you really fight the addiction mechanism and what does that really mean?

    You can't resist your dopamine. Your dopamine is behind your motivation to do all kinds of things - not only PMO.

    So: The kind of re-programming I needed ran deeper than the scheme of resisting, substituting, and improving life outside PMO.

    After a good time into nofap I deeply resented PMO.

    "Wow. Big deal. We all do bucko."

    Do we really?

    I deluded myself during 8 years of PMO, pretending to be happy just the ways things were.

    Now I've found this community where we resent PMO together. Great. Only that we resent PMO merely half of the time.

    By going into the willpower struggle - the "challenge" - we enter into a game under the pretense of fighting our addiction.

    This "game" supposedly helps us, because Dopamine, right? You quit, you can do without ... and some day you don't turn back, right?

    I say: forget it.

    As long as I keep relapsing, I'm not 100% behind the goal of quitting. And this defines my addiction. Not the "dopamine rush" people say they feel or anticipate with PMO.

    "No challenges anymore? What are you suggesting instead?"

    I'm reading "The easy way to stop fapping".

    The book addresses this whole topic right at the beginning.

    As long as you are anxious about really quitting PMO, you won't quit PMO. The challenges leave yourself too many excuses for a potential relapse - after all: who can fight all their lives against a temptation?

    The more you really detest PMO, the less temptation there will be.

    Look at your life, look at your habits. See what you got going for you and see what you want to improve. If you want to stop PMOing but you can't, follow all those steps that are suggested here - learn about yourself, learn about your addiction. But above all: understand why you want to quit PMO. Understand the implication of it. Understand what you are going to miss in your life without PMO (and, of course, what you will get instead!).

    Don't focus on Dopamine and simplified models of how addiction works. "Your brain on porn" is a particularly good example how a simplified view on addiction is promoted. It's not all wrong - for what I know it might be 80% spot on! - but ultimately it's leading into a false direction.
    moonesque and max9292 like this.
  2. But if it's not (in large part) the dopamine, why do many people simply switch addictions?

    I do think that the reward chemicals from orgasm (endorphins, etc) help lock the addiction/behaviour in, too. it's not just dopamine.

    I agree that a positive goal is needed - life must ultimately be about more than not doing something. But not doing that thing may well be mandatory to build that positive goal.
    franco216 likes this.
  3. I agree: these are the important parts.

    The neurochemistry just explains why it can be so hard.
    franco216 likes this.
  4. Yeah, well said! :rolleyes:
    Deleted Account likes this.
  5. franco216

    franco216 Fapstronaut

    That's a valid point. I don't contradict: Dopamine plays an important role in the addiction mechanism and thus with PMO as well. I want to point out that

    A the focus on Dopamine isn't that helpful in my opinion
    B people around here believe that they are literally addicted to Dopamine which is non-sensical
  6. franco216

    franco216 Fapstronaut

    So ... let me just add this, then:

    Behind my PMO addiction is an unfulfilled desire, a good deal of anxiety, a delusion, and sometimes a willful retreat to fantasy.

    These are insights that became very important for me. Once I understand what I deal with, I can rationalize my behavior, reconsider and decide otherwise - the way cognitive behavioral therapy works, too.

    When I get stuck with "my brain is stuck on porn because of variety and dopamine", I never get to the point where I can deal with the issues that underlying my addiction.
    Jennica likes this.

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