You've been told that the alcoholic is addicted to alcohol, the gambler is addicted to gambling, and the porn addict is addicted to porn. But some of the science would suggest this is not actually true. In fact, neuroscience has uncovered that whether it is a substance or behavior that you compulsively engage in, you're actually addicted to something else...and it's not what you think.
When I was addicted to pornography, I would go to a porn search engine, type in a few keywords, and have access to millions of options. Then, I would open each video that intrigued me in a new tab, creating a 'queue' of content to peruse. I'd watch one, scroll to the scenes I really wanted to see, and then move on. Sound familiar?
Some are theorizing that this exact behavior pattern encompasses the epitome of addiction. It's the same reason that a gambling addict says "hit me" even though he knows odds are stacked a mile high against him. The reason that an alcohol tells himself he can handle 'just one more drink.'
All of this is because the basis of most addiction is being hooked on WHAT'S NEXT.
That's why my viewing behavior when I was addicted is classic – I had so many videos lined up because after one, I wanted to move on to the next video. And the next genre. And so on.
Something in our brain says, 'just one more then I'll be satisfied', but it never is. This infinite dependence on what's next keeps us endlessly addicted.
It's the same reason that we are 'addicted to the scroll.' When you peruse a social media feed, what gets addicting is scrolling. Whether it's through the main news feed, reels, stories, etc. The scroll becomes so enticing because it is promising us something new. So we continually scroll, staying hooked on the 'next' thing.
I was alarmed when I first heard about this discovery, but also relieved. It makes so much sense. Plus, any time you discover information that better articulates a problem, you are empowered to create a more effective solution.
If the addict brain is obsessed with what's next, then we can be quite confident that learning to live in the present is more important now than ever before. Think about it. Being addicted to what's next keeps us future-focused, away from the current moment. It's the reason why so many addicts eventually lose their social circles, and then families. They slowly lose their sense of presence in the moment, and their loved ones start to feel less and less connected to them as a result.
If there is something in your life where you are hooked on 'what's next' — tech, porn, social media, your phone, or something else — living in the moment might be your greatest antidote.
Here are a few ways you can start being present more impactfully:
1) Breathe – Sounds so simple, and maybe a bit overstated in our society today, but breathwork truly is life-changing. When you learn how to engage your breath properly, you cannot help but be in the moment. It is very hard to think about what's next or to get depressed about the past when you are engaged in effective breathwork. This is why when men are triggered, tempted and aroused, we highly recommend breathwork. There are simply breathing exercises in those moments that will work wonders, settle the brain down, and keep you focused on the moment. I highly recommend completing a Wim Hoff workshop or something similar if you'd like to learn more.
2) Ask Questions – When DeepClean started to grow, so did my commitments and my schedule. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed, and I realized that it was starting to negatively impact the way I was showing up for my friends and family. I wasn't present. So I sought advice from one of my mentors who had grown a very successful company and seemed to have incredible relationships with his family, and this answer was simple: Take an interest in the people around you. Just ask questions. Then ask follow-up questions. Keep them your focus and your brain will adjust. And you know what? He was right. The questions don't have to be perfect, but when you start taking an interest in someone else's world, you become engaged in the moment and they can feel that you are present. Absolutely game-changing.
3) Gratitude – It's almost ironic because gratitude often causes us to reflect and look in the past. But whether you are giving thanks for things of the past or things that are current, gratitude will always make you present in the moment. This one is so easy you could start now. What are 5 things you're thankful for? Watch your brain and body start to settle.
Understanding that the basis of addiction is an obsession with "what's next" was incredible useful for me in my own recovery, but also in my work helping others get free of porn. By learning to stay present consistently, especially amidst triggering moments, addiction starts to wane. Once you start paying attention to how often your brain gets entrenched in what's next, it is hard to ignore. Those are your opportunities to breathe, ask questions, and practice gratitude. It always takes work to learn a new habit or try a new system, but once the momentum starts, it's hard to stop.
Cheering you on,
Join our mailing list to receive the latest on addiction recovery including success stories, FAQs, clinical findings, and practical tools you can apply TODAY.