Guest Post: Meet Tony Overbay, My Co-Author of ‘He’s a Porn Addict, Now What?’

Note from Josh: I’ve talked a lot about the new book I’ve co-written, but not too much about my fellow author, Tony Overbay, LMFT. He’s a great guy who is hilarious, and as we’ve built our friendship, has made himself very vulnerable over the foreign process of writing a book. While this is only the second book I’ve written that has my real name on it, I’ve either written nearly 20 books under pseudonyms or ghostwritten them for other people, so I forget what a scary experience it can be for a rookie. Tony’s got a great personal story and earlier this week wrote this entry on his Facebook page. I think if you read it, you’ll see why I wanted to work with him. Also, we recorded a new episode of his podcast on Thursday that will debut on Monday and I will post it to this site.

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Over 15 years ago I started thinking about changing careers. I was writing a humor column for my local newspaper and many of my articles had to do with becoming a new father. I loved being a father and that was when I first felt the “call” to want to help other men become good fathers as well. I wrote more about being a new father and eventually I put together enough chapters that I thought I could turn it into a book. That was one of the first times I also felt the pangs of “Impostor Syndrome,” meaning I couldn’t get past “why would anyone want to listen to me, who am I to write a book? I don’t have any credentials.”

I eventually headed back to school in the evenings, with four small kids, a day job and an incredibly supportive wife. I wanted to study counseling, but initially, I thought having a master’s degree in counseling would be enough, and I would write, and help men become better husbands and fathers. I didn’t anticipate seeing clients.

During the course of getting my masters in counseling, I had to do a practicum, aka fieldwork. I had to start seeing clients at a non-profit clinic. That was when I first realized that this career was more than just wanting letters behind my name in hopes of selling a funny book or two, it was truly about following a call, it was about helping others. I had found my passion, my purpose, and my desire to help grew.

When I first started seeing clients out of school, I learned that men weren’t typically seeking therapy, so I found myself working with a population that was coming in to see me because they were in danger of losing their marriages, or careers, to addiction, in particular men who were struggling with compulsive sexual behavior, typically acted out through repeated, and continual viewing of pornography, even when they had tried to stop many, many times.

I learned so much about addiction, compulsive behaviors, and I knew many of the ways to truly help with both the behavioral and the mental (cognitive) aspects of turning to pornography as a coping mechanism or acting out sexually to fill a void. That work led me to the creation of The Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that has helped many, many people break free from the chains of compulsive sexual behavior.

I started The Virtual Couch podcast a couple of years ago as a way to share a lot of what I was learning as a therapist, but also as a way to promote The Path Back recovery program, and the podcast began to grow like nothing I ever anticipated. That growth led me to the opportunity to interview more and more interesting people who had overcome a lot in their lives. One of those interviews was with a former politician, magazine editor and film festival organizer, and pornography addict, Joshua Shea. You can hear Josh’s story in his episode on The Virtual Couch, but after doing 70 or more podcasts and radio interviews for his first book The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About, Josh approached me with the concept of another book, “He’s a Porn Addict…Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions” (Click Here to See the Amazon page for the book) and I was immediately honored, and I was in! We would answer questions from real people about pornography addiction, and we would both answer them without knowing what the other had written. What we now have is a book that is receiving incredibly positive reviews from the professional community, a community that can be quite harsh with concepts or ideas that don’t bear fruit. It is overwhelming, humbling and motivating all at once.

I now have the letters after my name, and over a decade now of one-on-one experience with over 1,000 men and women who have struggled to overcome turning to pornography or other compulsive sexual behaviors as a coping mechanism. I know it can be done, but I also know it takes time to believe that it can be done. I am confident that this book will help expedite this process significantly, whether you are the addict, the betrayed or someone who loves, counsels or works with someone struggling with this challenge.

So while this isn’t the humorous first-time dad book that talks about blowing out diapers in public or having to give up Oreo shakes for a year thanks to my wife getting sick on them during pregnancy, I am extremely proud of this book and I hope that it can positively change lives. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I changed careers when I did, I still don’t see myself as “that guy,” but I now can’t imagine what my life would be like had I not followed a bit of a calling, and truly decided that I needed to love what I did, and do something that hopefully can and will impact lives for the better.

Guest Blog: What’s Porn Viewing Doing to Your Brain?

By Joseph F. Price

Are you habitually thinking or fantasizing about sex? Are you always trying to find ways to satisfy your urges and frustrations? Do you get an adrenaline rush from watching pornography? Pornography creates a multitude of chemicals in the brain that are as harmful as doing drugs, and is highly addictive.

Experts indicate phone addiction, internet addiction, and porn addiction combined are going to represent the next health crisis. When, you make the decision to experiment with pornography for sexual pleasure it will have a lasting impact on your brain chemicals, relationships, and mental health.

In the 1980s, a commercial used the analogy of two frying pans and two eggs to explain how a person’s brain looks on drugs. The pan on the left with the raw egg in it represented the natural state of a brain, and the pan on the right showed a fried egg. The caption read: “This is your brain on drugs.” The same analogy can be applied to a person who is using a lot of pornography to stimulate their mind. Except in this case, the egg would be snapping, crackling, and popping on the stove until it is burnt, and the pan is in flames. Porn viewing does this to a person’s brain, spirit, and soul.

Essentially, your brain works like a car engine. There are many mechanisms operating together. Different chemical synapses send signals throughout your body. There is a space, or small gap in our brains where information is transferred between cells. This space is commonly called the synaptic cleft. In order for information to flow, chemical messengers called neurotransmitters are shot across this gap. Think of this like a spark- plug in a car. The neurotransmitter has to make it through this gap in order to spark a thought, or to get your information highway up and running.

There are six major brain chemicals discharged while a person watches porn. Add the additional hormones that are released, and you come up with a highly toxic “neuro-cocktail.”

The first chemical is Dopamine. It is the chemical in charge of your emotions and your thoughts. It is a “feel good” neurotransmitter that “snaps” to attention, when you have a powerful longing for something you have already experienced before. For instance, you have to eat chocolate because it tastes good. Therefore, your brain keeps telling you to eat more of it. The same thing happens when a person watches porn over and over. Dopamine keeps rushing into that area of the brain, and this makes a person addicted because the neurotransmitter indicates that you need more of it. Interestingly, Dopamine plays a major role in memory.  The chemical remembers that the hot, little number in a G-string is just a click away.

The second chemical is Norepinephrine. This chemical sends a “crackling” sensation through the body because it elevates adrenaline. Maybe a couple is having trouble with their sex life, and they want to spice up things in the bedroom. One of them starts watching sex videos to get new ideas. The first time it doesn’t seem to be a problem, but then their mind starts fantasizing about more and more stimulation. Then, people begin to hide their behaviors. They start chatting with girls over the internet, sneaking off to the bathroom to masturbate, and lying to their wives. Of course, it’s their dirty secret, after all. Unfortunately, the individual gets an adrenaline rush from hiding the secret, and this is where the vicious cycle begins.

Oxytocin and Vasopressin work together to cement a person’s “long-term memories to the object that gave him or her sexual pleasure.” Oxytocin is often referred to as the “cuddle hormone.” It is the hormone released when a mother and father first hold their new baby. The hormone connects them to that memory. If this chemical is released during climax it can have a negative impact on a pornography user. The chemical spreads messages to the spectator’s brain that makes him or her become attached or connected to the video, and it prevents them from forming real relationships with one another.

Let’s talk about Endorphins, which are chemicals that make people feel high. Drugs aren’t required to feel on top of the world. It just happens, naturally! You don’t have to go out and buy opiates. They are already available in your head. People, who run and exercise know how awesome these chemicals make them feel. Endorphins are like an aphrodisiac that brings on the desire for sex, and the chemicals start “popping” around in the brain like a drug boosting your libido.

A normal, loving couple should experience a feeling of excitement and happiness during sex, and they usually form a loving connection. When a person constantly stimulates their brain with porn, they are changing the chemistry of these natural endorphins. It is like disconnecting a spark-plug from a reliable source of energy. If you put that plug into the wrong socket, it won’t fire correctly.

“Dr. Judith Reisman called porn an ‘erotoxin,’ theorizing that the brain itself might be damaged while watching porn. She speculated that future brain studies would reveal that the surge of neurochemicals and hormones released when someone watches porn has measurably negative effects on the brain,” (Gilkerson, 2019).

Once sexual participants finish making love there is a calming chemical called Serotonin released into the bloodstream. Humans were never designed to have sex with machines, videos, or other abstract images. People were created for interaction and relationships with living beings. You’re just cheating yourself, if you “short-circuit” the natural process of things by using an inanimate object to fulfill your lusts. All these chemicals work well together, if the user doesn’t rewire his or her brain by doing something unnatural to knock it off balance.

In the long run, Pornography changes your brain chemistry, ruins relationships, and harms your mental health. All the chemicals that work together in your brain snap, crackle, and pop until there is an explosion that causes permanent damage to your life. Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Endorphins interact together and become like hot wires in the brain with repeated use of erotica. Prolonged exposure hardens people’s minds and “desensitizes” their brains to the point that just a little bit of pornography is no longer satisfying. They need to watch harder porn with more violence and cruelty to satiate the chemical Dopamine. The domino effect is that it destroys relationships with their friends and family. Once this takes place, they have to seek help from a mental health provider to straighten out the chemical destruction of their brain and repair relationships.

 

Gilkerson, L. (2019). Your Brain on Porn. Covenant Eyes. Retrieved from www.covenanteys.com/science-of-pornaddiction-ebook

 

Joseph F. Price has been a life/recovery coach for over 12 years and a study of the human condition for over 40. You may contact him at Pornrecovery.coach

Note: Victoria Sayhi contributed to this post

Getting Trivial Things Off My Chest – November edition

I noticed I didn’t have trivial thoughts post for October. Maybe that explains why there are so many rolling around in my head today. Without further ado…

So, depending on when you read this Election Day is either a) over, b) today or c) tomorrow. I’ll be really glad when people pick up their signs on their lawn and go back to be secretive about who they support. Whether you like Trump or not, one thing you’ve got to say for him is that he has galvanized both sides of things. A lot of people will call it a divide, and it is, but at least it’s now out there in the open, for good or bad. I just think lawn signs look tacky and don’t affect my vote in the least. And whether your guys win or not, recognize that come Wednesday, it’s same shit, different day. None of this is going to affect you all that much in the long run.

I’m taking my son to an event on Wednesday where I expect to see a lot of people that I haven’t seen for about 20 years. I’m wondering if I should wear a ball cap and a hood, or shave, or do something to try and throw off my appearance. Despite not seeing these people, I’ve got to believe many know what happened to me about 5 years ago and probably have strong feelings against me because of it. I’m hoping that if someone recognizes me, they just ignore me. It would be bad form to confront me, especially in front of my son, yet that’s the big fear. Telling me off isn’t going to change anything. Next time you decide you’re going to give someone a piece of your mind, think about what you actually achieve. It’s little to nothing.

All of the years I was a journalist, I almost never voted in an election. I didn’t want my objectivity to be swayed one way or another. While I often found one (or both) candidates to be narcissistic assholes I wouldn’t want babysitting my kid, I did so by interviewing them and actually looking at their record. These days, I’ve resumed voting – absentee so I don’t have to show my face at the polls – and I leave the races where I don’t know both candidates blank. It seems safer than to just put a check mark next to the R or the D. What if you vote for the wrong person? It’s safer to vote for nobody.

I hate the leaves changing colors. I hate them falling off trees. I hate raking and I hate that it’s all a harbinger of the death season that is winter. Yet I still live in Maine…

A reminder before you vote. It doesn’t really matter who you vote for because progressives always win. I know conservatives don’t like to hear it, but you only have to take one look at this country to recognize that conservatives do little more than put up speed bumps. Whether it’s slavery, abortion, women’s suffrage, gay marriage, or 101 other issues, the progressive side always wins in the end. The most a conservative can really hope for is to be an obstructionist and win a battle or two until they’re dead because history has proven progressives always win the war. And I say this as someone who doesn’t label himself a progressive, but can honestly view how things work.

I had somebody approach me about writing a guest blog for this site. I’m still working with her on the content, but figured that so many people have given me shots at writing over the years, I may as well return the favor. If anybody else out there reading this wants to do a guest column, just let me know and we’ll figure something out.

Final thought: If you’re a diehard Democrat or Republican, your vote actually counts more if you don’t show up to maintain the status quo. In most elections, you’ll find 38% go Democrat and 38% go Republican. It’s the 24% in the middle who actually make the election count. As a hardcore Democrat or Republican, your job is just to cancel out the vote of the guy on the other side of the street with the equally ridiculous signs. Those people like me, who don’t have a sign on their lawn? We’re the ones who really decide things. It’s nice to play for one of the big teams, but there’s a freedom of being a free agent most will never experience. And one final reminder, you don’t have to vote a certain way or belong to a certain party because your daddy did. There’s a 49.999% chance your daddy was below average. Break the cycle. Think for yourself.

First Guest Blog: Google Trends Data Gives Insight Into US Addictions By State

Note from Josh: This is the first time I’m presenting a guest blogger. Aeden Smith-Ahearn approached me with some research he was working on and wondered if I’d like to share it. Upon looking at the map he’s created, I think he shows just how prevalent sex and porn addiction is in the US. I also think it’s important to point out all of the other addictions. This is really some fantastic work on his part and I hope you’ll enjoy it and be educated as much as I was.

 

By Aeden Smith-Ahearn

Addiction is on the rise, and with it comes a slew of problems that we seem unequipped to deal with. With the opioid epidemic being declared a public emergencyalcoholism on the rise, and pornography addiction still not being considered a “medical issue”,  it seems we have an overall problem that is being seriously overlooked.

In order to better understand this issue, and how it has permeated our society, we analyzed the data inside Google Trends to see just what addictions were concerning to modern Americans. We looked at this data on a state-by-state basis to find out which states were worried and educating themselves about which specific addictions.

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Here are some of our findings:

Pornography and Sex Addiction

By far the most prevalent and most searched for addictions fell in the pornography and sex addiction category. This is a growing problem, yet still not listed as an actual “disorder” by psychologists and medical professionals today.

(Note from Josh: This was written before the World Health Organization began listing sexual compulsivity disorder).

Sex addiction was more prevalent in the east, with pornography addiction trending more prevalently in the west. On the full scale, clearly American’s are worried about these addictions—given the massive search volume and popularity. Given this trend, is it only a matter of time before this problem gets too out of hand—if it hasn’t already?

Drug, Alcohol, and Opiate Addictions

With opiate and heroin related overdoses becoming a daily occurrence. News stories about drugs and alcohol are more prevalent than ever. Some states even showed trends regarding specific opiate medications, like Tramadol in Florida, or Vicodin in Michigan. Such specific trends get at the heart of the problem, with certain states having their own specific issues that are unique to them.

Nicotine and alcohol remain at large in the US as well, and work to further fuel other addictions. Rarely does one addiction come alone, but, often, one addiction leads to another in a cycle of behavior that is hard to eliminate.

Social Media and Internet Addictions

Apparently more prevalent in eastern states, the use of smartphones, addictions to social media, Facebook, and other Internet platforms are on the rise nationwide.

And because of the piggyback nature of addiction, we wonder if these simple, easy to access addictions are providing a basic neurological route that leads individuals down a path to much stronger addictions like drugs and pornography.

Food and Sugar Addictions

Overall health continues to get worse, and declining life expectancy in America is just one major signal of this bigger problem. Obesity and other issues continue to be a massive setback for the country. Food addictions are not making things easier, and many American’s are searching for education related to these addictions.

Are We Doing Enough?

The problem of addiction is very real. There is a conversation happening, and many are hoping this conversation leads to real change. However, many of these issues are new, and they come with very little real scientific understanding.

Change is happening, but is it happening fast enough? Are we doing enough? Are we creating the future for our children that will empower them?

Maybe time will tell. But let’s hope we are not leaving this problem up to chance. That seems like a poor approach to the significant problems at hand.

 

Aeden Smith-Ahearn is the content coordinator for Experience Ibogaine treatment centers. Aeden was a massive heroin addict for seven years and, ultimately, found sobriety through Ibogaine. He now spends his time writing, educating, and helping others find freedom from addiction through alternative treatment methods.