Porn Addiction

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Pornography addiction is the compulsive manifestation

Pornography addiction is the compulsive manifestation of sexual behaviour and impulses in combination with, and partly as a result of, the consumption of pornographic material, despite the negative consequences of such consumption. The pornography in question may take any of a wide variety of forms (though since the advent of the internet and the growing ubiquity of connected devices, the great majority of cases now concern pornographic video content accessed online) with themes and content ranging from softcore to extremely hard-core (and potentially illegal). As with any behavioural addiction, an addiction to pornography develops as a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain’s reward centre, driving repeated consumption of pornography, often to the exclusion of previously enjoyed activities and at the expense of work or academic endeavours and hitherto cherished relationships. Although pornography can be enjoyed in company, typically those suffering from an addiction to pornography engage in its consumption alone – usually, though not invariably, in conjunction with repeated bouts of masturbation – and this can lead to a significant degree of isolation and resultant mental and emotional challenges.

There are several treatments said to be effective in helping people overcome their addictions. But of course, everyone is different, so treatments are tailored to the individual and their particular addiction. Typically, addiction treatment is a combination of counselling and lifestyle changes, which are designed to promote abstinence and help individuals manage both the physical and emotional consequences of the addiction.

Treatment may also involve aftercare support in the form of regular monthly checking, which are designed to help people cope with life after recovery and manage potential triggers.

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What Is Porn Addiction?

The validity of whether porn addiction is an actual addiction is a controversial topic. Porn addiction is a considered by some to be a behavioral addiction that is characterized by an obsessive compulsion to view pornographic material. Many experts say that the brains of people watching porn do not function in the same ways as the brains of drug users do; however, there are a multitude of studies and people that argue that it is a very real addiction. 

Some individuals become so obsessed with sexual thoughts and behaviors that they compare their impulses of needing to watch pornography to that of a nicotine smoker needing a cigarette. Professional therapist offices and in-patient centers are filled with men and women who have lost control over their sexual behaviors and identify as suffering from a porn addiction. Many skeptics of the condition cite the fact that the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Psychiatric Disorders (DSM-V) does not include sexual addictions as disorders, but it is important to note that the American Society of Addiction Medicine does recognize porn addiction as a behavioral addiction. 

Signs of a Porn Addiction

In a 2014 study performed by the University of Cambridge, researchers found that in the brain scans of 19 different compulsive porn users watching pornography, the same reward centers of the brain were activated as those of addicts when seeing their drug or drink of choice. Similarly, many people that are addicted to porn and attempt to stop, go through the same symptoms of withdrawal that drug users and alcoholics also experience. The Kinsley Institute Survey found that 9% of porn viewers have tried unsuccessfully to stop. 

Signs of a Porn Addiction

  • Compulsive behavior that leads to loss of control 
  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop despite potential negative consequences 
  • Preoccupation with the activity 
  • Increased need for more 
  • Development of tolerance (what was once enough no longer is) 
  • Withdrawal symptoms 

Those addicted to pornography experience all of these, and the warning signs of porn addiction echo those of substance use disorders. 

Common Symptoms of Porn Addiction Include:

  • Spending large amounts of time watching porn 
  • Being unable to stop using porn or behaviors associated with porn, despite repeated attempts to do so 
  • Experiencing cravings to view porn 
  • Becoming angry or hostile when asked to stop using porn 
  • Requiring increasing amounts or more explicit porn to gain the same satisfaction 
  • Losing interest in intimacy with one’s partner 
  • Abandoning social activities to use porn 
  • Keeping all or part of one’s porn use secret from loved ones 

The Effects of Porn Addiction

The damage that pornography addiction can do to a couple’s relationship can be huge. Many individuals suffering from porn addiction feel embarrassed by their constant use and often lie to their partner about watching it and/or lie about their whereabouts or activities to be able to continue to watch it. Additionally, many people addicted to porn have low sex drives as they excessively masturbate to X-rated content on the internet, to the point that actual intercourse participation is low. 

The damage that pornography addiction can do to a couple’s relationship can be huge. Many individuals suffering from porn addiction feel embarrassed by their constant use and often lie to their partner about watching it and/or lie about their whereabouts or activities to be able to continue to watch it. Additionally, many people addicted to porn have low sex drives as they excessively masturbate to X-rated content on the internet, to the point that actual intercourse participation is low. 

What I’m seeing is increasing numbers of young men who cannot maintain an erection because they’ve wrecked 
their [sexual] appetite with pornography.
 

– Jane Grant, Sex Addiction Specialist 

Many individuals that perceive their partner’s porn use as problematic experience lower self-esteem, poorer relationship quality, and lower sexual satisfaction. Those addicted to porn understand that their compulsive use of pornography is damaging to their relationship and hurtful to their partner; however, they simply can’t stop. 

You’ve probably heard a saying that porn is great but doesn’t compare to the real thing. 
When you’re addicted to porn, you’ll feel the opposite. Sex is great, but it doesn’t compare to porn.
I had trouble getting aroused with my wife, just because it wasn’t enough anymore.
 

– Anonymous, Porn Addict 

Relationships aren’t the only area of one’s life that can be damaged by excessive pornography use. Psychologists describe patient reports of losing their jobs because they couldn’t control the urge to visit adult websites at work. In a 2013 Forbes article, researchers found that 25% of working adults admitted to looking at pornography on a computer at work. If left untreated, porn addiction can lead to broken relationships, loss of self-esteem, feelings of guilt, problems with work or school, and financial troubles. 

“Addiction is less about giving up something and more about gaining something, that something is a more meaningful, authentic and connected life. Addiction takes things, recovery gives them back, including; self-esteem, love for and from self and others, meaning, passion, ability to deal with life’s challenges, healing, and hope.”

The World Health Organization classifies porn addiction as a compulsive sexual behaviour disorder in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). People with this problem deserve professional diagnosis and care as we offer at Seeking Integrity. So if you are battling porn addiction, kindly allow us to assist you. Please contact us by email or phone at 0417 949 103.

If Porn or Sex Addiction negatively impacts yourself or somebody you care about