Dr. Les Parrott III, in the book Helping the Struggling Adolescent, discusses the four-step cycle of pornography addiction. It is (1) preoccupation (with thoughts and a search for sexual material), (2) ritualization (the specific, immoral routine), (3) compulsive sexual behavior (the culminating act), and (4) despair (utter hopelessness or powerless about one’s behavior). It is not just adolescents, but also teenagers, young adults, and the middle-aged who are caught in this vicious cycle.
Sin is described as a powerful, but deadly, attraction (Js. 1:13-15). It is described as an entanglement that can overcome one (2 Pet. 2:20). Sin is destructive, though it promises life and pleasure (cf. Ecc. 9:18; 2 Pt. 2:19). Pornography is one of the devil’s sharpest tools, slashing and cutting hearts, lives, marriages, families, and other relationships. It destroys trust, can actually hurt natural, healthy desires, desensitizes the user, and alters how the user views other people. Many experts say it leads some to act out on desires kindled by feeding the addiction.
The thing about Parrott’s observation is that the hunger so deeply felt by one addicted to pornography is ultimately followed by the acidic reflux of remorse. However, the pain of remorse is forgotten the next time the hunger pangs are felt. Each gluttonous indulgence in dark desires risks internal and external trouble like that already mentioned.
Like any other addiction, to food, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, etc., success comes in breaking the cycle. That means changing habits, retraining thinking, removing temptation, and clinging more closely to one’s relationship with God. He will help those who humbly and honestly come to Him for help. Anyone who has struggled with an addiction knows that the low that follows quenching it is lower than the euphoria that precedes it or occurs during it. Sin simply cannot fulfill. It can deceive, but it hollows out and leaves a wake of harm and destruction. True satisfaction is built only by channeling our hunger and thirst for that which is righteous (Mat. 5:6). If you are struggling with this (or any) addiction, break the cycle!