You’ve heard of runner’s high right? Sure you have, but have you ever understood what it is or how it works? I certainly didn’t until I started going to the gym and became curious about how the body works. Many different things are happening in the body when we exercise. There are processes to build muscle and there are chemical processes to reward you for good efforts. So, in a way runners really can be addicted to running but it’s not just running that causes the “runners high”, its any type of strenuous exercise. Endorphins are released which are opoids. An opioid is a chemical substance that has a morphine-like action in the body.
I’ve studied different types of addictions, especially sexual addictions. A porn addiction falls under this category. Since there has been an explosion in this addiction since the advent of the internet many have been affected while others have denied it is an addiction. Debate it all you want but people are suffering from addiction to pornography in differing degrees and don’t know what is wrong with them or why they can’t just stop. This has affected a large number of both men and women.
I think we can agree that the strongest chemical reactions happen when a person is sexually aroused or satisfied. The pituitary gland and hypothalamus are responsible for the release of the hormones responsible for these feelings. Dopamine makes us excited and gives us a rush. Prolactin makes you feel satisfied and relaxed. Both of these act to regulate each other. When we are aroused dopamine suppresses prolactin, when we engage in proper sex and reach climax, prolactin is released to suppress dopamine and gives us the satisfied feeling. Those addicted to masturbation will not experience the proper balance and will repeat the vicious cycle to try to feel satisfied. 400% more prolactin is released in men during normal sex, than when they masturbate.
Anyway, as you can see the body has a reward system in place that works wonderfully when properly used. It can reward you for exercising or having proper sex, preferably in marriage where the commitment brings about a more powerful feeling and chemical effect that uncommitted persons will never experience. However, this natural system can be hijacked by addictions and in effect we become addicted to our own body’s amphetamine-like chemicals.
I recently came across an article by Time Magazine called “How We Get Addicted”. What fascinated me about this article was the research done on the brains of addicted persons. Don’t worry, they didn’t open them up, but they did do a functional magnetic-resonance imager (fMRI) or brain scan. These brain scans revealed how chemicals in the brains of addicted persons were out of balance. The body is amazing though, so the scans also revealed that the chemicals were back in balance after about 90 days of soberness from whatever addiction.
Our body’s reward system can be hijacked by any addiction including but not limited to gambling, drugs, pornography, sex, alcohol, and the internet. However, we can regain control and put our body back into balance. We can learn anything, we can also unlearn anything. We train our minds and bodies according to our desires.