Arousal addiction is something that is almost new, or at least its effects are becoming stronger.
It’s a serious problem that many guys are suffering from. But still it doesn’t get enough attention.
It wasn’t known few decades ago, and so were many problems that guys, especially young guys, are suffering from these days.
In this article, we’re going to learn about it.
First of all, even though this article is aimed for men on the first place, still women also need to learn about this monster that men (and all the society) have to fight.
What is arousal addiction?
First of all, it’s just a term. A metaphor. Something that we use to describe a series of certain addictive behaviors.
For instance, when we say “substance addiction” we’re talking about cocaine, meth, and other illegal drugs. But when we say arousal addiction we mean something else entirely.
We’re talking about addictive behaviors which:
- Give your mind an insane amount of dopamine.
- Easily accessible and (often) socially accepted.
- Create a virtual reality that is WAY BETTER than our own reality.
- Because it creates a beautiful virtual world, we get hooked into it, and into getting that dopamine rush, to the point where we no longer able to function normally in the real world.
Curious to know what these addictive behaviors are?
Excessive video games, internet pornography, excessive internet browsing. Those are only on the top of the list. However, they’re behaviors that give you high pleasure with little to no effort from you. Pleasure is only a click away.
Famous psychologist Philip Zimbardo is the one who rang a warning alarm and started pointing fingers towards this problem.
In his 5 minutes TED talk, he talked about something that he called “the demise of guys”. He argued that guys (and boys) are failing, failing socially, academically, in the business and even sexually.
Arousal addiction is the reason behind many of the problematic behaviors guys are suffering from now.
Social anxiety (especially around women), inability to focus, ADHD, ED, numbed emotions, incredibly low self-esteem, failing academically, failing socially, failing sexually …etc.
Dr. Zimbardo, in another TED talk, also points fingers at many social problems such as “fatherless boys”, single mothers, lack of a male role model, lack of connection between family members and many other problems that lead boys to escape to this virtual world of porn and video games.
Now, as a guy who grew up in this amazing age of technology revolutions, I found myself hooked into Philip Zimbardo’s work and research on this topic. Because I did (and still doing) some of the things that he talked about.
And, of course, I suffered from many of the things that he talked about, and I didn’t know why.
That’s why when I sit with elder guys, who grew up way back then when there was no technology, they tell me that they think that our generation is crippled (especially when it comes to social situations and interacting with women).
Sure arousal addiction (these addictive behaviors) isn’t the only factor. Other things like lack of father and so on will make it more likely that a boy get hooked into these behaviors and ruin his life.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at how these behaviors can cause all this drama we talked about.
This is how arousal addiction causes its harms
Just like any addiction, it hijacks the dopamine system in your brain.
Philip Zimbardo said something very interesting “Substance addiction you want more. More cocaine, more drugs …etc. In arousal addiction you want different. You want novelty.”
So, it’s like novelty is what triggers more dopamine to be released by your brain.
Look at the porn industry, or even the video games industry, and you’ll find an infinite supply for novelty. You’ll always find something new and different that will trigger the dopamine and keep the addiction going.
When a large amount of dopamine gets released, that tells your mind one thing “this activity is gives me pleasure, do it again.”
That’s why after a while the addict will find other life’s experiences, like socializing, boring. Because he’ll get less dopamine released when he experiences these things compared to the dopamine rush he gets from his addiction.
That’s the same with almost all types of addictions.
However, arousal addiction is a little bit more dangerous and subtle.
First of all, it doesn’t take a lot of effort. All you need is an internet connection to watch porn. You can download or buy games online. You can easily spend the whole day browsing Reddit, Facebook and YouTube.
It doesn’t take any effort to do that. You don’t have to communicate with another human-being, you do all these things in the comfort of your own room (a.k.a. in isolation). And you easily have your daily dopamine dose.
As a result, it’s not uncommon to suffer from social anxiety, to feel guilty and ashamed of one’s self, to feel lazy and unmotivated to do anything, and to try to keep getting more dopamine by repeating the cycle every day.
After all, you get an insane amount of dopamine that no other thing can give you, and you get it easily.
Compared to drug addiction, for example, things aren’t that easy. With drugs you risk being caught, you have to go out there and get the stuffs. You usually have a friend (or a group of friends) who does/do it with you. In brief, you have to put in some work to get high.
I’m not saying that drug addiction isn’t that dangerous, we’re just comparing it to arousal addiction and how the last can do subtle harms to your well-being.
Let’s take porn addiction, for example. Many guys, MANY GUYS, have reported less (sometimes non) social anxiety after stopping watching porn.
Many guys have reported an increased motivation to get things done and do something with their lives, after abstaining from porn for a while.
A lot of guys also reported the ability to enjoy life more than before (socializing, working, exercising, being with family …etc).
And I can second on all of that.
Can this be real?
Some may argue that they’ve been watching porn, playing video games and spending a lot of time on internet, without any harm.
And some of these guys are right, to some extent (we’ll see how in a second). Some of them are just living inside of a cave.
Let’s start with those who are living inside of a cave.
They’ve been living inside of this cave for a lifetime. They’ve never seen what life looks like outside of this cave. And they’ve never seen sunshine and never known that sun exists!!
Now, the guys who are saying that they’ve been doing these stuffs without being inhibited socially or without any effects on their self-esteem or motivation levels, they could be right.
That’s because “excessive” is different for everybody. The way they were brought up plays a role as well. Their life style plays a role too. When did they start these addictive behaviors is important as well.
Someone who wakes up every morning (or afternoon) and spends his day bouncing from video games to porn sites, then again to videos games and then to aimlessly internet browsing, and ending the day by another porn session, is going to suffer a lot.
Now, if this guy grew up this way, meaning that this is how he spent his time as a teenager, he’s going to suffer as an adult A LOT.
Compare this guy to another guy who goes out regularly, has a good lifestyle, but from time to time, he slips into these behaviors.
This guy isn’t like the first guy. I’m not saying that the second guy is the most successful person on earth, he’s just more likely to be more confident and happier.
However, there’s a certain threshold that once he reaches it, things will start to get darker.
The first guy reached that threshold a lot more quickly. The second guy hasn’t reached that threshold yet.
That threshold is like a hole. Some of us found ourselves inside of this hole from a very early age. Some of us are still out of this hole, but moving with steady steps towards it.
And some of us will have a very rough time trying to climb out of that hole, while some of us can climb out if it a lot easier.
That’s why we’re different when it comes to this arousal addiction and how much it’s going to affect us.
However, the hole is there, and as long as you’re moving towards it, you’re going to fall, you’re going to get affected by this addiction and experience some of the things we talked about above.
It varies, but it exists.
So what’s the solution?
Dr. Zimbardo, who rose awareness to this issue, suggested few solutions for this issue (not just arousal addiction, but generally why boys are failing).
We’re going to focus on arousal addiction and we’re going to focus on what we can do.
If you’re a man:
- Cut off porn, immediately. And commit to never get back to it again. Porn is probably the highest form of arousal addiction, with endless novelty it can stimulate mountains of dopamine. Eventually it will lead to nothing but social anxiety, low self-esteem, low motivation levels, and no desire to pursue/connect with real women in real life.
- Video games. Don’t worry I won’t ask you to cut them off completely. Reduce the hours you play video games. For instance, if you’re spending 8 hours every day playing video games, something is wrong. Keep them on your spare time, after you do the tasks you need to do each day.
- Also reduce that. If you’re bouncing back from Reddit to Facebook, aimlessly browsing self-development sites like this, you need to stop that. Use it only when you need it, and trust me, you don’t need it 18 hours a day.
- Leave your comfort zone. Start going out regularly. Meet new people. Work on your social skills. Join classes about things you like. Volunteer. Join a book club. Start getting dopamine from these sources while actively shutting down the previous ones.
- Look for a role model. A confident, dominated male role model. Once you start going out and seeing people you’ll come across few confident people who’re just nailing it. Get around them and commit to be like them.
- It’s going to take time and effort. It’s not going to be easy. Your mind needs time to rewire and returns to its normal state after years of being subjected to huge dopamine rushes over and over again.
If you’re a woman:
Support. Support. That’s all.
Men are more subjected to these kind of stimulates. Porn is made for men. Video games, as Dr. Zimbardo said, is made by men for men. Men don’t sake pleasure the same way you do.
If you’re a sister, a mother, a wife, a girlfriend, a good friend, then just give men the support they need, help them, raise the awareness in a friendly way.
Yes don’t treat them like they’re sick psychos, compassion is a key here.
And if you just can’t stand this and you don’t want to be with a man who does this, don’t settle. Declare that and don’t settle for less than that. you’ll either get you man to change (a very strong motive for men to change), or you’ll attract the kind of man who isn’t involved in these behaviors (yep, they do exist).
What to expect
You’re not going to turn into a super hero or something, you’re just going to regain what you’ve lost as a result of these addictions. Here’s what to expect after few weeks:
- A self esteem boost. An increased self confidence. You’ll start to view yourself positively without any feelings of shame.
- Social anxiety? it will either completely go away or it will be lessened to a great extent. You’re going to do better in social situations, at least better than you used to do.
- Motivation levels? You’re going to feel a lot more motivated to be social, to work more and succeed, to meet women and generally to be a better version of yourself.
- You’re going to start enjoying the little things more. That’s because your dopamine system is starting to recover and returns back to normal.
- Withdrawal symptoms. Yes it’s not all beautiful. Emotional roller coasters to even physical symptoms. You may or may not get them, but it’s a good idea to be ready.
Give it time. Try to go for a month and you’re going to see some/all of the benefits above.
This article was a little painful to write. And I know it’s going to be a little painful to read for some of you.
The truth is ugly most often. We want to remain in our comfort zone and just stay with what we’re familiar with.
But research and life experiences are conforming these facts. Those are not just conclusions of a crazy blogger online, those are researches and observation of some people who you can call scientists.
Take the time to examine your own situation. You might be deep into this hole. You might be heading with steady steps towards it. whatever it is, know that this hole does exist and you should stay out of it as if your life depends on it. It does depend on it.
Was that helpful? You can also read:
- How to Survive in a Dopamine-Oriented Society
- Replacing Bad Habits With Good Ones (The Right Way)
- How to Have Better Relationships (Research-Based Answer)
- There is a Magical Wand to Change Your Life!