The new heroin

The new heroin

There’s a lot to love about the Internet. Blogs for one thing. (I can only presume anyone reading this is inclined to agree!)

But I suspect the overall impact of the Internet on the world is negative. Take a look at these statistics on online pornography, which are nothing short of horrific but all too believable:

There’s no doubting porn addiction is a huge cultural problem. The masters of satire at The Onion have painted a crude but poignant portrait: ‘Carpe Diem,’ Says Man Who Spent Previous Day Masturbating In Darkened Room (reader discretion advised).

Of course, from my point of view porn addiction is also a pastoral problem.

Addiction has a spiritual element. I advise Catholics who are addicted to pornography — or masturbation, or sex — to commit themselves to an intense plan of interior life: daily meditation and spiritual reading, and if possible daily communion and frequent confession. Apart from that, I recommend fixed Internet hours, and accountability software like X3watch.

But it’s important to note that addiction to online pornography is a neurological disease, not a moral failure. A friend of mine — a professional counsellor whom I’ve blogged about before — has written at length about the neuroscience of pornography addiction and recovery.

So spiritual remedies need to be accompanied by psychological treatment. Grace builds on nature. Porn addicts need to ‘unlearn’ neurological pathways, and rewire billions of connections. The process can be compared to getting over a failed romantic relationship. It’s not easy, but it can be done.

Lest anyone believes the only victims of porn addiction are the addicts, think again. The online porn industry depends on human trafficking.

Online pornography is every bit as destructive and evil as heroin.

  • MuMu

    Thank you for blogging on this issue. Fr John. I can’t help wondering if the increased spate of attempted snatchings of children is not a direct result of pornography.

    I have been told by counsellors that some teenage boys are permanently impotent because of what they have done to great excess, watching porn.

    At times like this, my faith quails, what with the great evils destroying people’s God-given sexuality and procreative powers, the pathos of humankind oblivious to God and abandoned to wolves, where is the hope?

    • Jeff

      Fr. John,

      Porn, and other sexual addictions are exactly like being hooked on heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.

      I have had addictions to most of these that have been mentioned, for most of my life. I am currently having a bad relapse with all of them.

      When it comes to addictions, living one day at a time is extremely important. Being around others, and not being secluded, also helps.

      I wish the parishes in my area had more time available for confessions. Confession is extemely important, as long as you realize, it is not a solution to addiction.

      Please pray for me and all sexual addicts of any kind.

      • Stephen K

        Jeff, it’s a courageous and honest person who can admit to sin, failures, addictions, weaknesses, and courage and honesty are great strengths, and so you are to be respected and admired.

        I would not say that I am as courageous or as honest etc as you. But I suspect most of us aren’t. Certainly, the tone of most of our opinionating suggests we are sitting on some kind of overlooking moral promontory, above the moral smog and pollution and separate from it.

        What a fantasy! We’re -most of us – mired in something: remember the crowd and the writing in the sand and Jesus and stones? Okay, perhaps not everyone is an alcoholic or a sex or heroin or nicotine addict: but who said these are always and everywhere the most destructive addictions? What about the addiction to believing you are always right? How much death and destruction is there in that? Idolatry comes in all shapes and forms.

        I was interested in your comment about confession. I see powerful truth in it. But I have to say I think the concept of sin is complicated. My christian sense tells me God can remove sin, but he can’t make me – or anyone else – a non-sinner.

        The purpose of my post is to succour you, one broken vessel to a possible other. God loves you even when you don’t love yourself. Hold on to that and don’t let fears and condemnations overwhelm you. I’m sure your own condemnations of yourself are already way too much.

        One thing I have discovered is that love conquers all and the only solution to our addictions and needs is personal love in heart, mind and body. I’m a poor substitute for a lover, but in this post I want to express my love.

      • MuMu

        Jeff, may I suggest recitation of the Rosary as an antidote especially to this category of sin?
        As sheep largely without ecclesial shepherds, we have to turn to others in highrer realms to keep us on the straight and narrow.
        Don’t you love that phrase, Stephen K? Here’s a treat for you:!

      • Anne

        Hi Jeff , loved your comment and honesty. As a counsellor I have encountered all the addictions you mention and with my clients have worked slowly at times very very slowly, towards some healing.
        Pornography is the most difficult because it involves etched images in the brain which evoked pleasure and so really its a self comfort experience.
        I have worked (with some success ) using strategies of distraction, contracts and utmost honesty and we have gone from client daily doses of viewing etc to 10 weeks without any viewing of internet images or other images. If and when contract is broken we discuss reasons and then begin again.
        What I am in effect doing is helping in the making of new nueral pathways. Prayer helps also.

    • Thank you Jeff.

      And thank you Stephen.

      It’s times like this I can really see how truth is closely related to goodness and beauty.

      (I think we found the hope MuMu!)

      • MuMu

        Great comment, Anne. What you are doing; now that gives me hope. That is love indeed. God Bless you. I hope Jeff can get to see you or someone with your great faith using those strategies. The brain that mends itself – and the soul along with it!

  • Anne

    Thanks Mu Mu I enjoy your encouragement and it is a great pleasure to see results. I am fortunate because my clients and I are covered in lots of prayer by hundreds of people and prayer people from various denominations so its possible to see good results in all areas of my work, abortion, sexual abuse, and wounded sexuality.
    If Jeff wants to see me, Fr John knows who I am, he can make contact with me that way. Im sure you know who I am also but I have to be careful, arrows and piercings come my way too.

  • Cathy

    A very important issue to discuss in today’s society, Thankyou Fr John for posting.
    Porn addiction is a terrible trap that so many of us can fall into, it effects mostly men, but can also effect women as well. One has to understand that men are very visual in the way they express intimacy and women have to be aware that yes that low cut top you are wearing is attracting the eyes of a man to drop every time he looks at you. Society has created a false reality that in order for men to take notice of you as a woman you have to dress like a hooker, fact is you are attracting the wrong sort and making it very difficult for those men who are the good sort to keep themselves from falling into the trap. My advice to this issue, in ones home make sure that the computer is in a place that faces toward people walking past, and do not let your children have computers in their room. Ditch the TV or closely monitor what is being watched at all times, some of the advertisements can be pornographic as well as music videos etc. always try to keep busy and distract your mind and use your time to do good.
    As a wife I try to make my home a good place for my husband to come home to after work, and not come home to a depressed wife who sits on the couch and watches daytime romances and create a non reality in her mind. Also women ditch the crappy romance novels as this is considered porn for women as women are emotionally driven by words. But most importantly strive for a more personal relationship with Jesus, He loves you even when you fall and will carry you especially through times of difficulty, He understands human urges and desires us to use our intellect to strive for higher things.

  • Anne

    Cathy as laudable as your suggestions are, I dont think these will happen because it would require a complete change of culture, language, beliefs, etc. It has taken one generation (nearly two) to get us here and do you think that Ms Gillard & her female cohort and other feminists (E.M.I.L.Y.”S LISTERS) would permit such a going back into antiquities or fossilism?
    I guess that’s why I find it difficult to believe that any change of the culture of death of which porn is a paid up member will take place.
    Have a good day.

    • Cathy

      I can start in my own home to turn around a culture of death, and urge other people who read this blog to do the same by making changes in their home. Emily’s list is destructive I know, however there are many women like myself who regularly speak out against their kind and feminism in general everyday.
      The family unit is the cornerstone of society, I will try my hardest to raise my five children to oppose a culture of death, and who knows, maybe one of them will enter politics or become something that may help the cause. But above all never underestimate the power of prayer for people in position of power or authority.

      There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not alreasy borne for us, and does not now bear with us. ~Blessed John Paul II

      God Bless you always!

      • Anne

        Hello Cathy, sorry I havent responded been away to Brisbane for conference.
        Agreed start with your family. Thats why the World Congress of Families was so important and is so important to attend and listen because there are people working hard to protect the culture, the children, the families and the frail.
        Keep well

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