Sorry, But There Was No Thrill In My Addiction

I’ve found LinkedIn to be a great resource for pornography addiction information. However, much like statistics that peg the porn industry worth anywhere between $2 billion and $200 billion (just a slight discrepancy there), I’m starting to bump into information provided from professionals that I think is just flat-out wrong.

This morning, I was scrolling through the feed and there was a short video from an Australian health professional. The video’s thesis was that “the thrill” that comes with looking at porn and masturbating makes the addiction even worse.

The thrill?

At first I thought it may be an Australian colloquialism for the physical pleasure that comes with an orgasm, but that’s not it. This person believes that there is a genuine thrill associated with succumbing to the addiction on a regular basis. Aside from the slight rush of adrenaline that came with porn viewing when I was afraid of getting caught by my parents more than 25 years ago, I don’t recall watching porn ever being a fun, exciting experience. It was a necessity. Despite trying to stimulate my dopamine receptors, there wasn’t a lot of pleasure in it.

The thrill?

Try the shame.

I didn’t want anybody to know about my addiction and in all truth, I never really faced up to my addiction or called it such while I was locked in the battle between my brain and the computer screen. There was nothing thrilling about that. It made me feel bad. I didn’t feel like I was getting away with anything. I felt like I had a dirty little secret.

Here’s my guess: This person has probably never been addicted to anything. I’ve met plenty of ex-alcoholics and ex-drug users at the rehabs I’ve been to who work in the field, but there was also plenty of people who weren’t. Usually these people love to tell you they’re in recovery and this person didn’t do that in the video.

I’m guessing they associates caving to your addiction, even though you don’t want to, as something “naughty.” There’s a big chasm between naughty and shameful. Having a piece of cake at the restaurant with dinner when you’re on a diet is naughty. Going home and binging on the cake in the fridge because you can’t stop yourself is shameful. Promising yourself you’d only lose $100 when you visit the casino, but you lose $120 is naughty. Losing $1,000 and only stopping because you’re broke is shameful. Sneaking a 5-second peek of a pornographic website at work or when other people are in the room is naughty. Waiting for everybody to go to sleep because you NEED hours to look at porn is shameful.

I know if this person was my therapist, we would not click. I also know that I would leave this person after probably only one or two sessions. Unfortunately, there are too many people out there who stick with their therapists because they feel like it’s a relationship where the client doesn’t have the control. A therapist you can’t work well with is not a therapist worth keeping.

I’m sure this person probably gets through to some of their clients and I’m sure they’ve helped a lot of people, but hearing that there was a thrill to my addiction made me shake my head.

That’s not a thrill. That’s shame.

13 thoughts on “Sorry, But There Was No Thrill In My Addiction

  1. In my case “the thrill” happened once or twice when I was in my early teens. I spent the next five decades chasing that thrill in vain. That’s yet another definition of “addiction.”

  2. It may differ depending on the addiction and the person. I interviewed recovering gamblers for my thesis and they said the thrill of anticipation, the adrenalin rush that goes with planning a bet then placing a bet (the anticiption), was something that kept them hooked. Of course, afterwards when the losses are great, all of them talked about being absolutely overwhelmed by shame. On a slightly different note, I 100% agree with your point that the experience of being an addict, or the partner of an addict, can be very different from merely theoretical knowledge!!!

    1. (Shameless Plug Time) And this is why I think the book I have coming out in two weeks with Tony Overbay, LMFT, is something the world hasn’t seen. You get both the expert and addict side of things. (Plug Over) I think more of these experts need to experience my “Want to know what it’s like to be an addict?” test…

  3. If you want ‘thrill’ don’t get addicted, addiction is the most boring thing on this planet. It’s the endless repeat without variety. It is supposed to be the highway to pleasure but that is not what it is, that is what you think it will be but it never delivers. That is how I think about it.
    I also think that there are a lot of people speaking on a lot of mental health topics (still my biggest interest) who don’t really know what they are speaking about. They may share their thoughts, of course, but portray yourself as a ‘professional’ to gain trust or clicks is a no no. Still the internet is full of them. Good that you clarified the situation.

    1. Clearly you’ve never been forced to watch “The Notebook”. That’s the most boring thing on the planet.
      I didn’t write anything back on her post, because to each their own. If we had a relationship, I might talk to her about it privately, but LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. Being a troll isn’t a prerequisite for participation.
      And you’re right. It’s not a highway to pleasure. It’s more like being tethered to a stake in the yard, like a dog you don’t want to get away.

  4. I agree with you. I don’t think there is much thrill in addiction. You just do something because “you need to”.
    I don’t have an addiction in the “official form”, but I’d say OCD is kinda like it.
    Repeating my patterns feels like an addiction.

    Do you have any idea how the addiction started? Or when it became an addiction?

    1. OCD has always struck me as an addiction to routine and patterns in some ways. I assume you exhibit those tendencies because they help you cope.

      It became an addiction from Day One. The first time I saw hardcore pornography (not just a naked person) when I was 11 or 12, something clicked in my brain to tell me I had just found something that was special and would help me get through life’s tough times. The only other time I felt that instant connection with something was the first time I got drunk at a wedding when I was 14. So when people say alcoholism is real but porn addiction isn’t, I say that addiction is addiction is addiction. They’re just all a different form of the same poison.

      Ironically, I’m just finishing writing the entry that I’ll be posting tomorrow morning and that talks about my early sexualization, which I’m sure played a big part in the whole scheme of things. So let’s call this a cliffhanger and I’ll tell you to tune in next time!

  5. Very helpful post. Thank you. I just ended a relationship with a man who was addicted to porn. It made me feel rejected, unloved and just angry. I’d say over and over…why are you in here alone looking at a screen when you could be in bed with me having actual sex?? I couldn’t understand. He never tried to explain

    1. In reality, he probably couldn’t explain it when I was in it and it took some real intense inpatient rehab and years of therapy before I got a strong handle on why I became the way I did.

  6. Interesting post. However, in my 10+ years of recovery from sex addiction, I must admit that the search for porn, visits to sex clubs or strip clubs, or visits to escorts did involve a “thrill” in my life as well as managing an escort review forum. It wasn’t until the last few months of my life in addiction and then when I entered recovery that I first felt shame for what I had been doing. I have since gotten passed the shame and now have the occasional guilt for my actions.
    Yes, it was a necessity for me as well, but in my case there was definitely a thrill involved. A thrill I no longer seek nor want to seek.
    Take what you like and leave the rest.

    1. Thank you for providing another perspective. Have you at all found you’ve tried to replace that adrenaline high, even by doing healthy things or has that need passed?

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