Pastors against porn should not use the “Addiction” argument

Why treat porn addiction won't work.
Wrong Diagnosis – Wrong Treatment

So I was talking to a pastor recently who was looking for ways to help men overcome their porn habit.  Since I am a psychiatrist, he was asking me about the parts of the brain that were involved in reward.

I know why he was asking.  He had been exposed to Gary Wilson’s “Your Brain on Porn” and wanted to preach a sermon to men about how viewing porn was just like using crack cocaine.

It isn’t.  Here is what I explained to the pastor.  If you approach porn as an addiction then you will try to “cure” it using the anti-addiction methodology that we use for cocaine, meth, gambling, and heroin addicts.  But this is like treating gall stones with lung cancer medicine.  It won’t accomplish your goal and it will just make things worse.

For example.  One of the first anti-addiction drugs of choice that we use is Wellbutrin.  Wellbutrin reduces addiction cravings.  I have given it to alcoholics, smokers, and today I thought about prescribing it to a crack cocaine addict.

But Wellbutrin does not lower sexual desire at all.  In fact, when we have a patient whose use of Paxil/Lexapro/Celexa/Zoloft is reducing libido, we switch them to Wellbutrin.   If porn/sex was really an addiction, the Wellbutrin would reduce desire, not increase it.

So, if a Christian pastor wants to help their disciples to stop viewing porn, they should approach it from a different standpoint than addiction.  They should treat it as an sinful – but natural- behavior like fornication or adultery.