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Bargains With Chaos


Bargains With Chaos


“It’s a huge problem,” one drug treatment professional matter-of-factly replied when asked whether pornography use presents a genuine problem for drug abusers. Others similarly stated, “Of course it is!“ and “Absolutely!” The formal observations of still another such treatment professional reflect the collective understanding of those in that field: “Research shows that porn addiction and substance abuse often occur simultaneously. In one study, 58 percent of sex addicts reported either past or current struggles with drug addiction. 31 percent reported issues with alcoholism.” [i]


People of faith should be rightly concerned about the correlation between substance and alcohol abuse and the use of pornography. Addiction is “a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects …”[ii] Substance abuse addiction and alcohol abuse addiction are the most widely known types of addictions. “In 2015, over 27 million people in the United States reported current use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs, and over 66 million people (nearly a quarter of the adult and adolescent population) reported binge drinking in the past month. [iii]


Researchers have reported that “[e]mpirically we have data that have connected sex addiction with other addiction. The lead author …[in that study]… followed a sample of 932 sex addicts (Karnes, 1991). Within that sample, 42% reported chemical dependency… [and]… [o]ver time, numerous studies have documented the comorbidity of sex addiction and other addictions...” [iv]


“Sex addiction refers to excessive sexual thoughts, desires, urges or behaviors that can’t be controlled and cause distress and harm to your relationships, finances and other aspects of your life.”[v] “Addictions coexist and manifest common characteristics; They may have a common etiology, which would mean they are more intricately connected than we have assumed…[vi] Addiction to pornography is a form of sex addiction. “Clinicians who treat sex addiction must go beyond noticing the coexisting patterns. The realities of our patients are that they have made a number of ‘bargains with chaos.’ If each addiction brings unmanageability to the patient's life, it would be clinically negligent to think that the resulting chaos from each does not compound the problems of the others. The whole may in fact be more than the sum of its parts. Further to borrow from Miller, Belken, and Gold, ‘unless contemporary treatment methods are adapted to fit changing patient characteristics, attempts at rehabilitation may be futile. (1990, p. 596).’ “ [vii]


It is certainly true that not everyone who views pornography is going to become a pornography addict. Addiction is a technical term, and a term used only when referring to those whose lives are unmanageable because of a particular pattern of behavior. But a behavior does not have to meet the level of an addiction before it is harmful. Pornography is harmful. [viii] “[T]he rule is that pornography is dominated by hostile sexism, frequent violence, and general dehumanization and objectification.”[ix]


Alcohol and drug misuse and related disorders are major public health challenges that are taking an enormous toll on individuals, families, and society…” Pornography use is a contributing factor to this state of “chaos” in the lives of many people. Pornography use is one of many “bargains with chaos.”


Should people of faith care about those who make “bargains with chaos?” Of course, people of faith should care. People of all faiths share the desire to show compassion to others. “Compassion is much more than sympathy. It involves an experience of intimacy by which one participates in another’s life. The Latin word misericordia expresses the basic idea: The compassionate person has a heart for those in misery. This is not simply the desire to be kind. The truly compassionate individual works at his or her own cost for the others’ real good, helping to rescue them from danger as well as alleviate their suffering.”[x]


Being compassionate is a good thing. “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington

[i] https://theshoresrecovery.com/connection-between-porn-addiction-substance-abuse/#:~:text=shows%20that%20porn,even%20more%20challenging. [ii] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/addiction. [iii] https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/executive-summary; Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed tables. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. [iv] Carnes, Patrick J., Murray, Robert E., Charpentier, Louis; (2005), Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 12:79-120; “Bargains With Chaos: Sex Addicts and Addiction Interaction Disorder,” Taylor & Francis, Inc., p.80. [v] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22690-sex-addiction-hypersexuality-and-compulsive-sexual-behavior [vi] Carnes, Patrick J., Murray, Robert E., Charpentier, Louis; (2005), Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 12:79-120; “Bargains With Chaos: Sex Addicts and Addiction Interaction Disorder,” Taylor & Francis, Inc., p. 84. [vii] Carnes, Patrick J., Murray, Robert E., Charpentier, Louis; (2005), Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 12:79-120; “Bargains With Chaos: Sex Addicts and Addiction Interaction Disorder,” Taylor & Francis, Inc., p. 81. [viii] https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/research-details-pornographys-harmful-effects-women-society [ix] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/experimentations/201803/4-ways-porn-use-causes-problems#:~:text=the%20rule%20is%20that%20pornography%20is%20dominated%20by%20hostile%20sexism%2C%20frequent%20violence%2C%20and%20general%20dehumanization%20and%20objectification. [x] https://aleteia.org/2019/10/28/what-is-the-place-of-compassion-in-christianity/

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