The Science of a NoFap Relapse – All You Need to Know

The biggest challenge faced by people taking the NoFap challenge is relapsing. So it’s very important to shed some light on this NoFap relapse phenomenon. 

We all know that porn is bad, and can harm us in like 50 different ways or so. But there are deeper questions that need to be answered. 

Why do we relapse in our journey to quit porn, even when our determination seems bulletproof? 

The Journal for Clinical Medicine states that online pornographic use is steadily increasing. It says that it has a high potential for addiction because of its characteristically “triple-A” influence (affordability, anonymity and accessibility). 

And in ways it’s really similar to the patterns of addictive behavior found in hard drug users. Masturbation (fapping) is highly addictive and dangerous to health if repeated over time. It can be hard to quit too, which is precisely the reason why you face a NoFap relapse after a long streak. 

How Porn Addiction Runs Parallel to Drug Addiction  

NoFap is not the straight and narrow path that most would assume. Instead, it’s filled with curves and rebounds along the way to the destination of quitting and staying free. Compulsive use of pornography can be very similar to drug addiction. The case is similar with drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine. The users feel the reflexive need to use them just to get a sense of normalcy. 

Without the substances, the users can be left feeling depressed, anxious and with a feeling of dissociation from society. It’s their sense of who they are as a person. The feeling of negative emotions along with the void of not using the substances are often contributing factors to relapse. The withdrawal from the lack of stimulation is what leads the person to feel like going back to the habit. Even though they have every intention of quitting. Here is a detailed account of how porn addiction can be worse than drugs, in a lot of cases.

The cycle of relapse and recovery is what stops most individuals from achieving their goals of leaving erotic content behind. However, it’s important to keep sight of one’s goals and remember why you started in the first place. This will help every time you feel like giving up.

NoFap is Easier than You Think

Initially, Nofap feels great, especially if you’ve been planning to do it for a long time. Once you do finally quit cold turkey, you’re likely to feel a surge of dopamine. You’ve made a decision that will positively impact your life. You feel good that your plans are beginning to materialise and you feel righteous and successful. It’s a great start on the long journey to changing your habitual tendencies, but can be deceptively easy.

It’s hugely beneficial to build a support system around your goals to aid you in quitting pornography and masturbation without relapsing. Telling your friends and family about your goals will help reiterate it by saying it out loud. 

That helps a lot as you’ll be going through the NoFap flatline, where most falter. 

It will also help keep you accountable for your words and actions. When you tell them you’ll be reminded about your ambitions and how you would like to change your life. Letting them know about your plans means that you’ll have a higher probability of keeping up to your word. You don’t want to let your friends and family down due to disappointment.

It’s More Challenging to Stay Committed to Your Decision

According to “The Role of Stress in Addiction Relapse”, a factor to relapse of old addictions is stress. and discomfort. This confirms what we already suspected about the possible triggers for NoFap addiction and relapse.

During the days following your decision to quit porn, you may begin feeling anxiety and doubt. It may begin to be clear just how habituated you were to watching porn. You will observe how regularly you feel the urge to indulge in it. You may also observe triggers in your surroundings that lead you to want to consume erotic content. Blocking out these triggers will help you stay clean. 

For example deleting pictures from your phone, disposing of old magazines, clearing out old bookmarks, cancelling subscriptions to porn, etc.

The Dangers of Habit Triggers that Can Lead to a NoFap Relapse 

Triggers are sounds, sights or experiences that cause you to resort to an old habit you’ve been trying to quit. In the case of smokers, a trigger could be the ashtray on the table. In the case of alcoholics, triggers could include the bottle opener in the draw. It could simply be the friends you keep while drinking. Seeing them again can subliminally solicit a response that makes you feel like drinking. Such triggers exist when it comes to porn and masturbation as well.

Triggers effectively lure you in and encourage you to resort to porn. This means that you’ll lose all your progress and have to start all over again. This can be extremely detrimental to your confidence and well-being. It could even result in you feeling more depressed than before, and lost progress could deter you from trying again.

The best way to block out triggers is with a dedicated porn blocker on all your devices and cut them out altogether. It will ensure that you do not get triggered even accidentally. For example, you might be on your laptop surfing the internet casually. When a pop up comes up to trigger an urge.

A simple and effective porn blocker extension on your browser can make a real difference, to help you stay committed to your NoFap goal.

How to Handle NoFap Relapses

According to Betty Jarusiewicz’s paper “Spirituality and Addiction”, those recovering individuals that have a higher level of spirituality and faith have a greater success overcoming addiction than those continuing to suffer from relapse.

It’s important to remember that failure is a stepping stone to success. If you caved in once and watched porn, it’s not the end of the world. Instead of feeling dissent that you had to resort to an old habit, it’s better to acknowledge the number of days you went without viewing porn and congratulate yourself for it. This sets up a positive thought loop which is much healthier than a negative thought loop. If you do this, you’re more likely to try again and to even want to break your previous score of the number of days abstained.

Studies have shown that Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) is far more successful in helping prevent urges to relapse in test subjects. According to Holas, Pawel, et all, Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention is a successful remedy for complex sexual behaviour disorder (CSBD). In simple terms, it’s imperative to be conscious of not relapsing back into one’s old ways, to guarantee success. 

Conclusion 

Research reveals that porn and masturbation is indeed a lot like a drug addiction. It stimulates similar parts of the brain and releases the same hormones like dopamine and serotonin. 

Watching porn may result in many of the same responses from our psychology and physiology. Once we make up our minds, our brains go into a state of withdrawal because of the lack of stimulation that was previously abundant. This increases the likelihood of relapse. 
By studying the science of relapse, we are able to gain a greater understanding of how to handle a NoFap relapse and not revert back to it again!

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