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Ramadan: Time to Kick Porn Addiction Out of your System

 muslimmatters.org

This article  WILL help you KILL porn addiction or at least start on the road to recovery inshā’Allāh.

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

 

  • Physiology of porn addiction & why it’s so hard to quit
  • Porn addicts: you are not losers & you CAN quit
  • The Ramadan connection
  • Simple changes towards a new life

 

The other day on a Facebook page, I had posted a question- what is one bad habit you’d like to kill this Ramadan? Surprisingly, one brother openly wrote about his desire to stop watching porn. Think about it. What great desperation would make a person openly talk about this habit? In fact, this is a brave brother, who has recognized his battle, and who is literally begging for a cure, a change. He is afraid, scared of going through Ramadan, through fasts, afraid that he will not be able to ward off the urge to flip on an internet porn site, or a DVD to watch some porn.

 

Some of you may be thinking, “Astaghfirullah, how can someone even think of doing this in Ramadan?“. Stop.  First say alḥamdulillāh, and thank Allāh that He, Al-Rahman, has protected you from this great fitnah.  Next pray to Allāh that He keeps you away from the dark forces of sexual addictions of all types, from porn to zina, naudhubillah.

 

Effects of Porn

 

Although destructive in many ways, the deteriorating impact porn addiction has on intimacy between spouses, tops the list.  There is developing research that “pornography was progressively desensitizing these men sexually… that they quickly required higher levels of stimulation to achieve the same level of arousal”. The sad reality is that your wife/husband becomes progressively insufficient to satisfy your sexual desires.

 

For those addiction-afflicted as well as those who aren’t, take heed of the dangers of porn addiction. Like alcohol and drug addiction, porn addiction cannot simply be shut off. Rather, one must undergo a rigorous process requiring time and effort, and this process cannot start unless one understands why this addiction is so strong.  Porn addiction is one sub-category of sexual addictions, likely the lightest in terms of haram– but equally destructive and almost certainly leading to worse if not nipped in the bud. That is why Allāh has instructed us to not even“approach zina” [Qurʾān 17.32], because with porn as an entry-way, it becomes almost impossible to stop one’s path to zina.

 

Why is it an Addiction?

 

Research has shown that porn addiction is a “chemical addiction“, having an effect on the brain that is very similar to drugs. It has even been called the new crack cocaine in this Wired article. Mary Anne Layden, co-director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy, calls porn the “most concerning thing to psychological health that I know of existing today.”

 

First let’s see how drugs work so we may see how analogous it is to porn addiction. The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports: “Most drugs of abuse directly or indirectly target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. The overstimulation of this system, which rewards our natural behaviors, produces the euphoric effects sought by people who abuse drugs and teaches them to repeat the behavior.”

 

Porn addiction works similarly: “During the sexual process, the brain begins narrowing its focus as it releases a tidal wave of endorphins and other neurochemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin and serotonin. These “natural drugs” produce a tremendous rush or high. When these chemicals are released during healthy marital intimacy we refer to them as “the fabulous four” because of the myriad positive benefits they generate between a husband and wife. When they are released during pornography use and other sexual addiction behaviors, we call them “the fearsome four” due to the severe addiction and many negative consequences they produce in the brain and nervous system.”[Read more in this informative article]

Overcoming Addiction

 

We know that drug addicts can get over their addiction. We know that alcoholics have been able to do the same.

 

So, if you are a porn addict, know this:

 

(1) you are not alone
(2) you are not a loser or an evil person
(3) you CAN kick this habit but only with a huge amount of jihad’l-nafs (the struggle of the soul).

 

 

 

For spouses, family, friends, and supporters, know that:

 

(1) It is important that you “recognize” the addiction and become partners towards a cure rather than continually debasing and disparaging the addict. Debasement only makes the addict feel worse and increases the desire to seek pleasure from endorphins through porn.

 

(2) Porn addiction is destructive not only for the addict, but also for the spouse. As we saw in my previous post on porn addiction, it has the ability to destroy marriages. That is why it is not to be taken lightly. I urge spouses of addicts to please also be a “partner in solution” rather than a police officer. You cannot hammer the addiction out of your spouse. Learn about its physiological and psychological aspects, and HELP in the recovery. If you love your spouse, you will give it your very best shot.

 

The Ramadan Connection

 

The psychologist linked above, Joe Zychik, mentions two requirements for overcoming sexual addictions– effective motivation and a reliable method.

 

Ramadan is a time where we are instructed to fast. Fasting has been described by the Prophet (salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as one of the ways to control sexual desire:

 

Abdullah (b. Mas’ud) (Allāh be pleased with him) reported that Allāh‘s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to us: “O  young men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he who cannot afford it should observe fast for it is a means of controlling the sexual desire.”

 

During regular days, it may be tough to observe this instruction, but Ramadan is a month where you are surrounded with “effective motivation” to fast. The last thing you want to do is go through the motions of fasting yet breaking it by engaging in your addiction. Use this opportunity to make some strong moves towards a “reliable method“.

 

Partner Up

 

Connect with a close friend, family member, or spouse–someone you can trust. Let’s call this person your “partner”. Have your partner install a strong porn filter/activity monitor on your computer. Let him/her control the password and make this partner promise that they will not give it to you regardless of how much you ask for it. If it helps, make them swear by Allāh. In some cultures, putting your hand on the Qurʾān reinforces this promise.

 

Make Structural Changes

 

Replace your SmartPhone– If you watch porn on your phone, get rid of it! Replace it with a non-internet-capable “cheap mobile”. Either you can have a nice toy or you can save yourself from porn.

 

Change your computer– If you watch it on your laptop, consider buying a desktop instead that stays in an open area where you wouldn’t want to be caught watching porn.

 

Turn off your TV– if u have any porn videos or DVDs, destroy them now, before you lose your spirit.

 

Reliable Methods

 

Self-Talk– Talk to yourself and your partner about your addiction. Consider this: If you are able to control yourself during fasting, why can’t you control yourself during the nights of Ramadan, nights that are the holiest nights of the entire year? And if you are able to control yourself for the entire Ramadan, is the Allāh of Ramadan not the same Allāh of the rest of the months, Who watches your every move?

 

Make constant du‘ā’– Ask Him, Al-Tawwab, to pardon your sins, and grant you barakah in your efforts and time to help you overcome this trial. Recognize that you are in this trial only by the will of Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta’āla), and by His will and mercy, He will lift you from this trial after you rise from it, a stronger believer. Use the nights of this most blessed months, and the moments before you break your fast to humbly ask Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta’āla) for help.

 

Moisten your tongue with duas such as this one:
اللهم اني ظلمت نفسي ظلما كثيرا ولا يغفر الذنوب الا انت فاغفرلي مغفرة من عندك, وارحمني انك انت الغفور الرحيم

 

‘Alla-humma innee thalamtu nafsee thulman kathee-ra wala yaghfiru thunouba ila anta, faghfirlee maghfiratan min ‘indika, warr hamnee innaka antal Ghafoor-ur Raheem.’
[Allāh! I have wronged myself very much, and none can forgive sins, except You only. Grant me forgiveness, and have mercy upon me; indeed You are the Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful.] (Bukhāri)

 

Read Self Help Books– Beyond the self-talk, you need to continue the journey on a “reliable method”. Your best bet is to get books on breaking sex addiction. Do it NOW before you lose your motivation to read them! It is more important for you to read these books in Ramadan.

 

Get Counseling– If you have access and ability to engage with a psychologist, this is the time to put that in motion. Call one and set up an appointment. Make sure this psychologist is a specialist in the area of addictions, especially sex addiction.

 

In other words, start doing whatever it takes during these Ramadan days of high spiritual motivation to set into motion something that will keep you porn free in the LONG RUN, as opposed to perhaps controlling it only in Ramadan.

 

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