There was a time in the United States that school children were taught that cigarette smoking didn't cause cancer. The tobacco industry profited from their parents' smoking while thousands died, according the Huffington Post. Now another industry profits from an addiction that can enter your home, free of charge, on your smartphone or iPad.
Flash forward to today and ABC News reports, "Pornography has grown into a $10 billion business - bigger than the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball combined - and some of the nation's best-known corporations are quietly sharing the profits." Motivation to continue to sell their product to you, your children, your spouse and anyone they can.
As a society there are several myths about pornography, collective beliefs that have been shared over the years. For example:
It is just a picture. It doesn't hurt anyone.
It is OK to look, but don't touch.
It doesn't change my relationship with my spouse.
Everyone looks at it, it is normal.
Take an honest look at the cost of pornography.
Pornography changes your brain
Research shows that pornography impacts brain chemistry, function and possible size. For example, dopamine is a chemical released in our brains when we feel joy and pleasure. Yourbrainonporn.com's educational series explains, "Porn overstimulated your brain, and your brain changed. Being hooked on porn is due to the same brain changes that occur with all addictions. These brain changes are behind your cravings. They keep you coming back to porn - even if you want to quit."
Pornography changes marital relationships
Dr. Julie Stattery in her article in Focusonthefamily.com explained, "After viewing material filled with perfectly shaped women doing wild and perverse acts, a man naturally may have difficulty becoming stimulated by his 40-year-old average-looking, reserved wife. In his clinical research, Dr. Victor Cline described this progression as "escalation." The brain's chemical reaction to pornography reinforces this.
Dr. Oz explains in this video that pornography is now believed to cause people who view it not to be able to respond physically to their partner or enjoy sex with their partner.
Pornography is addictive
Fightthenewdrug.org share facts about pornography addiction. They explain, "It wasn't very long ago that doctors and researchers believed that in order for something to be addictive, it had to involve an outside substance that you physically put into your body, like cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs - they all do the same thing to the brain: flood it with a chemical called dopamine. That's what makes them addictive. Porn does the exact same thing. You see, your brain comes equipped with something called a 'reward pathway.'...The way it rewards you is by releasing dopamine into your brain, because dopamine makes you feel good... Porn is basically sexual junk food..." Eventually, just like with drugs, you develop a tolerance and need more and more. It begins an endless cycle like drugs, alcohol, gambling and other addictions. Teen brains are particularly susceptible as they release twice the chemicals of an adult brain.
There are victims
The addict may objectify actors, or not see them as people, but they are someone's daughter, sister or mother. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop explained to ABC news that actors and actresses suffer physical consequences as a result of their participation in the industry. Koop said, "We have an industry that is making billions of dollars a year, is spreading to cable television and to the Internet, and yet their employees are considered to be throwaway people."
The United States Federal bureau of Investigations opened over 15,000 cases between 1996 to 2005 as a part of its "Innocent
Images National initiative." Cases involved child victims of abuse whose images were used as pornography.
Treatment is available
Whether you are a man, woman or teen, you have options for recovery. Recovery options include free local 12-step programs, Lifestar, Christian resources like Pure Life Ministries and LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program. Fightthedrug.org offers online resources for teens and more.
No matter what myths we are told, we now know that pornography is legal, it is harmful and can be addictive like cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. As parents we can keep our families safer by educating ourselves and making good choices.