"Porn is not bad!"

"Watching porn can help with your sex life!"

"You only think porn is bad because you've never watched it!"

"I watch porn all the time with my boyfriend/girlfriend, it's fun!"

Can I be honest? It breaks my heart that these are the statements that I have heard about pornography in the past few days. Let me just say right now, pornography and the addiction that comes from viewing it destroys lives and alters your brain for the rest of your life.

An article on Covenant Eyes by Luke Gilkerson stated that "93 percent of boys and 62 percent of girls are exposed to internet porn before the age of 18." That means, according to this article, "only 3 percent of boys and 17 percent of girls have never seen Internet pornography."

These statistics are very alarming. Children are viewing pornography when they should be outside playing or reading a book. What porn addicts do not know is that by viewing porn, they are forever altering their brains and their brain chemistry.

Here is why pornography is harmful to the addict and the loved ones of the addict:

BRAIN:

By viewing pornography, your brain rewires itself to fulfill the "pleasure" porn brings about. According to Fight The New Drug,

"Neurons that fire together, wire together. Just like other addictive substances, porn floods the brain with dopamine. That rush of brain chemicals happening over and over again rewires the brain’s reward pathway ultimately changing the make up of the viewer’s brain. This can result in an increased appetite for porn."

Why viewing porn at any age can become addictive, children who begin viewing porn at the start of puberty are more greatly affected. When a child reaches the start of puberty the brain goes through "pruning." At this time, whatever neuron connections that were not made prior to that point (like learning a second language) are destroyed for a new wave of neuron connections to be made. This means, you have one more shot to learn whatever you want in this time before you lose that ability. Scientists describe this as the "use it or lose it" concept. If the child has viewed pornography within this time, the child knows only that "reward" of dopamine, therefore breaking porn addiction habits become more difficult.

When the child does begin entering puberty, the frontal lobe cannot make wise decisions (due to the flood of dopamine, other brain chemicals are cut back and produced less). If a child has viewed porn within this time, decisions that they make from there on out will be thought of as an 'OK' decision when the decision might be horrible.

BEHAVIOR:

Dopamine, to clarify, is the brain chemical that makes you happy. Because viewing porn has now made the addict "happy," they begin to associate that behavior with happiness. The effects of dopamine are short, and because of the little amount of time that dopamine lasts, the viewer then begins to have to view the material again and again with greater quantity. This creates "monkey see, monkey do" behavior. The material that the addict views become what they enjoy seeing and doing--because they receive that dose of dopamine.

While porn is all around us, porn is not real. What the viewer is watching grows overtime and the material that "makes them happy" will also have to grow. As the addict continues to watch porn, addicts say that they "find themselves getting aroused by things that used to disgust them or that go against what they think is morally right." This causes many porn addicts to view those sexual acts as common or even normal.

"The Michigan State Police Department found that pornography is used or imitated in 41 percent of the sex crimes they have investigated" --Fight The New Drug

As the addict grows in his addiction, his or her behavior changes as well.

RELATIONSHIPS:

As I stated earlier, pornography and the material within porn is not real. Women have been photoshopped. Angles have been skewed to increase "viewing pleasure" and the "love" between the two actors is being faked. Nothing about porn is real.

However, "porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined." Addicts are beginning to believe that what they are viewing is an example of love and how love should be. Addicts chase something that they see as pleasurable on a screen full of lies, missing out on a real chance of happiness.

While addicts think that porn is helping them or even helping their relationship, pornography is actually destroying that love they have within the relationship. For many porn addicts, having a sex life after becoming addicted is low or even non-existent. Think about it -- the addict has trained their brain to be alone, staring at a screen of others having sex to become sexually aroused. Sex is not enough. Soon after that, porn cannot even satisfy.

Pornography not only affects the sex life of the addict, it also affects the sex life of the addict's partner. Think about it -- a married couple begins to view porn together to create a better sex life (like many couples say they do for their relationship). The man (typically, not every case) becomes aroused by what he sees online. While the wife can be aroused as well, the wife then begins to compare herself to the actress or actor on screen. This creates trouble and a sense of worthlessness within the partner (in this scenario, the wife).

WORLD ISSUES WITH PORNOGRAPHY:

While porn might look glamorizing and enjoyable, behind the camera is a different scene. "In 2011, two Miami men were found guilty of spending five years luring women into a human trafficking trap. They would advertise modeling roles, then when women came to try out, they would drug them, kidnap them, rape them, videotape the violence and sell it to pornography stores and businesses across the country." This is how pornography is created (in many cases). Women are lured to a false job, typically a "modeling career," then are bribed, drugged, or raped and the captors sell the act as porn.

The abuse does not stop there. For women who are forced into prostitution (whether it is for a pimp or due to life circumstances), almost half have been recorded and sold for pornography.

"In the end, porn fuels prostitution; and porn and prostitution are the products the sex trade exists to deliver."

Whether you have viewed porn, or have not viewed porn, have been addicted to pornography or do not think anything is wrong with porn, the facts are clear and evident. Pornography is harmful to the brain and destroys lives.

To my friends who have not viewed porn: great! Please, do not head down that dark and dangerous road. Your brain will thank you!

To my friends who have been addicted to porn and have overcome the addiction: I am SO proud of you. Pornography is not an addiction that is easy to overcome. The addiction is not like a drug or alcohol addiction -- those eventually leave your system. Once you view porn, those images are forever seared into your brain, and overcoming those takes a great amount of effort.

To my friends who view porn and do not see anything wrong with pornography: please reconsider. The facts are there. The statistics prove just how damaging pornography can be to yourself and those around you. If you do not believe the facts in front of you about how porn damages your brain, please consider the person in the film. In many cases, the pornography you are watching could be an actor playing a part, or a victim of trafficking. You. Do. Not. Know.

Think about what you are doing to your brain, those you love and the people in the pornography video the next time before you click start. Do you want your child to be viewing the material you are currently viewing? Stop. Think. Click exit, and change your life.