[Sober Living] Delaying Immediate Pleasure

It’s taken me 20 years to kick this addiction. Or, at least, not giving in daily. Since it’s difficult for me to write about this topic, this essay will probably be good for me. Unfortunately, I can’t find an easy way to say the problem directly. Similar to writing “My Penultimate Trip,” it’s a topic I’ve avoided, and I felt much better after writing that essay. Here goes: I no longer indulge in viewing pornography daily!

May 1st or 2nd, I just stopped.

My overall dopamine levels have been really tired, where even after orgasming, it didn’t really relax me like years back. It just became a trivial exercise, a time-waster, and it grew disinteresting. I’m writing this on the 8th. Yesterday, on the 9th, I woke up erect and had an encounter that was too much to tempt, so I wasted about two hours of time, watched some porn, and even then, the highs weren’t that high.

I last tried this in November. It was a long week.

Of course, that week was nothing compared to more serious addictions to hard drugs. I don’t have experiences with those, and I intend no disrespect toward those who have. I just merely want to share my own personal experiences as a way to help. I also want to figure out why yesterday had such an influence on me, because identifying the root cause might help me and others identify their root causes.

Well, I know what happened and can point out the root cause.

As sad as this sounds, I stopped for merely the idea that “I would only start again once I found a concept so appealing and alluring to make it interesting.” That happened. It was the equivalent of someone that’s been away from cannabis for a while smelling the drug again, or someone that’s been away from alcohol for a while smelling the drug again, which is to say I met someone I was temporarily infatuated over.

That’s not the root cause.

It’s deeper. There’s a sadness and loneliness involved with it that’s mostly just there. It doesn’t drag me down but it doesn’t help me out either. I say that I’d rather focus completely on my work, bettering myself, and doing what I want to do, but humanistic urges are still there, stewing in my brain. Lately, my work has been becoming more interesting to me, so I’ve been distracted enough to not “slip.”

Overindulging leads to poor self-control.

Do something too much and it normalizes. Your brain’s sensitivity to dopamine decreases. The taste goes away. For someone like myself with an addictive personality, channeled correctly, it can lead to positive results. I’ve written nearly 1,800 words today. I’m more comfortable not writing, not exercising, and not doing anything at all. Part of it is balance. Today was a great writing day. Yesterday wasn’t.

That’s why I’m finding self-control so useful.

There’s a quote I like that goes “Self-control: Controlling your own hunger always comes before your telekinetic powers.[1]” It was part of a series of joke wallpapers with dissonant phrases that almost make sense. This one resonated with me because if you indulge your every minor hunger, you’ll become overweight, whereas if you find ways to subdue the temporary pangs of hunger, you’ll be fine.

Addictions, for me, require that same discipline.

Also just speaking from personal experience, as a former weak-willed individual, quitting alcohol and cannabis were both difficult for me. Cannabis in particular felt like a 6-month hangover. I’m a lightweight, sure. Becoming overweight twice was also a matter of being weak-willed, for me at least. This isn’t a blanket statement, there are other possible circumstances out there.

We are, after all, all looking for that magic cure for addiction.

It’d be nice to have fun watching some pornography and masturbating yesterday, yet not having any strong urges to masturbate today, other than if it’s something completely within my choice and completely consensual. Getting drunk today and not being interested in drinking again tomorrow would be nice. I’m in the camp of people that believe that addiction is a dopamine intolerance.

Since one was good, why not another? Why not ten more?

Stabilizing the release of dopamine in the body limits the excitement of life. The experience for me with just one medication was experiencing zero pleasure or pain. Life was on autopilot and all the windows were bolted shut. For me, I prefer to fight against the bad, to surf the waves of the good. If that means I waste time masturbating to cope with stress and life, better than doing something worse, right?

A temporary discussion popped up around this question:
“How do I break the cycle of addiction?[2]”

  • “by finding something to replace that activity. maybe a hobby, or a show, or even try bustin a quick nut.[3]”
  • “Want something greater in life besides immediate pleasure. YOU are the only one that can make the change. Yeah, at first it sucks and doesn’t seem worthwhile, but breaking the cycle is more rewarding personally than any immediate high. It does take time, will and strength. We all have that though. Be strong.[4]””
  • “You’ve been raping your dopamine levels and now your left feeling blah because you don’t have, literally, the chemistry to be anything else. Exercise, get endorphins, they can help get past that dip when trying to quit. Eating right is really important as well.[5]””
  • “Medical detox. Grow a pair and don’t use again. I did it.[6]””
  • “get to the bottom of why you use drugs in the first place and work on that. many drug addicts suffer from some kind of childhood trauma or mental illness[7]”
  • “You take matters into your own hands and tell yourself “fuck this shit” and you drop it on the ground.[8]”

Addiction in general is a powerful influence over many people. Admitting my addiction to observing pornography and masturbating won’t make it easier. It’s too powerful of a sensation for me.

Unless I can delay immediate gratification.

Sources: My personal experiences, along with casual studies of psychology and addiction.

Quotes:
[1] Original source unknown.
[2] Anonymous.
[3] Anonymous.
[4] Anonymous.
[5] Anonymous.
[6] Anonymous.
[7] Anonymous.
[8] Anonymous.

Inspirations: The Sober Living section of a recent Rowing Machine column entry, actually. The idea had enough legs to deserve its own essay.

Related: None

Photo: A random skyline. Somehow, this felt like it would fit better than perhaps a stop sign. That would have been too obvious. This skyline is more subtle, calming, and with enough stuff in it to make the photo interesting: airplane (left), sign (right), and a chemical trail that’s also accidentally suggestive.

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Author: Zombiepaper (Anthony)

My big goal is to write. My important goal is to write "The Story." My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame a fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. Let's strive to be better everyday. (Avatar)

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