It is one thing to deal with your sexual cravings or addictions, but it is another thing to understand why you have such uncontrollable desires in the first place. Physiologically, your sex drive depends on hormones. Hormones can create great, God-given sex, but they can also play a role in the creation of a sexual addiction, a dynamic that is ultimately destructive.
What drives sexual addiction is an addiction to dopamine and adrenaline. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter with many functions, one of which is being a pleasure-producer. Dopamine is responsible for the feeling of peace and completeness you may get while viewing naked women in magazines or videos. Thus, the craving for sex is partly a craving for dopamine.
Adrenaline, also commonly called epinephrine, is a hormone released by the adrenal medulla into the bloodstream in response to physical and/or mental stimuli.
In an article published in Christian Counseling Today, Archibald D. Hart addresses adrenaline addiction, writing:
“Behind every addiction is a compelling urge to feel wonderful and to avoid pain. One of the most common ways we pursue this goal of exalted delight is through the use of the body’s own natural and powerful stimulant— adrenaline. Many have been so dependent on it that I believe it is now our greatest addiction problem.”
Every addiction has its root on an unhealed emotional wound(s)—emptiness in one’s heart, anger, fear, hatred, and many other spiritual and emotional dysfunctions. If you know how to help someone overcome one addiction, you will likely know how to help others overcome many types of addictions, such as drugs, spending, alcohol, work, over-eating, smoking, etc. The servants of these addictions are adrenaline and dopamine.
One of the most subtle and unrecognized addictions of our culture is an addiction to adrenaline. We can get an idea of the rise of this addiction just by observing what is popular on television these days – Amazing Race, Survivor, etc. The popularity of extreme sports and situations that take participants to the brink of injury and sometimes death is completely adrenaline based.
We love our suspenseful movies – dramatic tension, battle scenes, near tragic accidents. Kids love to flirt with danger by playing games near railroad tracks. Many businessmen and women are addicted to the raging stress of a challenging corporate environment.
People have countless ways to provoke adrenaline for an emotional and physical high. We all have our own adrenaline-producing activities, and they are not all bad or destructive. We may love watching certain movies or dropping 100 feet on a roller coaster. But, like anything else, adrenaline can be abused.
It becomes a problem when the fear of a certain act diminishes, taking the edge off the adrenaline high and driving the addict to find a new source of excitement. Consider this example: On one of our family trips to a small amusement park, we rode the roller coaster for a thrill, got off, and got right back on. But after the 4th or 5th ride, the roller coaster had stopped producing an adrenal high, and every ounce of the thrill we first enjoyed had disappeared. I remember thinking, “I’ll probably never do it again,” but after a few years away from the roller coaster, riding it became thrilling again.
The second part of this article discusses 5 elements that increase the sexual-adrenal response in your body. Understanding these dynamics can help you become more aware of the nature of the battle, allowing you to guard yourself from the deception of lust.