What Is Pornography Addiction?

Lauren Timmermans, LAC, MBA, CSAT
Primary Therapist, Gentle Path at the Meadows

The viewing of pornography can absolutely exist comfortably within a relationship in which both partners have discussed usage openly and find their relationship pleasing and gratifying. Of the large number of people who view pornography at some point in their lives, only a small percentage of those individuals become addicted. For those who are addicted, pornography is a compulsion in which the individual has become powerless in the face of the “drug” and their lives have become unmanageable.

In 2008, the Internet Filter Learning Center estimated that 12 percent of the Internet consists of pornographic images or videos. Through its accessibility, affordability, and anonymity, internet pornography has increasingly attracted a wider audience. Studies have shown that an estimated 50 percent of all Internet traffic is related to sex or sexual images. Additionally, 13 percent of the United States population consumes pornography regularly; 75 percent of the viewers are male.

Three Types of Pornography Users

Dr. Patrick Carnes identifies three types of cybersex and online pornography users:

  • Recreational users consist of those who watch pornography in ways that are both appropriate and inappropriate, satisfy curiosity, and for educational and exploration purposes.
  • At-risk users are more vulnerable to compulsion, depression or stress-induced viewing. Often times, this individual is able to resist until exposed to pornography.
  • Sexually compulsive users are typically viewing 11 or more hours of pornography a week and have established a compulsive pattern that could be making their lives unmanageable.

Watching pornography creates an emotional bond with an artificial word. That makes it increasingly difficult to bond with real people in everyday life. It can also lead to a life where sex is void of intimacy. Sex becomes about the behavior and not about the emotion, nurturance, intimacy, and love we get through a true connection with a partner.

Another side effect that has become more evident in recent years is the escalation of the viewing. An individual can begin to view themes or genres they may once not have considered in order to get the same dopamine hit they got when they initially started watching pornography.

Signs That Your Pornography Use is Problematic

How do you know if you or a loved one potentially has a problem? Read through this list and keep track of how many resonate:

  • Preoccupation with pornography on the Internet.
  • Frequently engaging in pornography, engaging in it for prolonged periods of time, or engaging in it for longer than intended.
  • Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control or stop viewing pornography.
  • Restlessness or irritability when attempting to limit or stop engaging in pornography on the Internet.
  • Using pornography on the Internet as a way to escape from problems or to relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression.
  • Returning to pornography on the Internet day after day in search of increasingly more intense sexual content
  • Lying to family members, therapists, or other to conceal consumption of pornography
  • Committing illegal sexual acts in the viewing of pornography (viewing underage pornography or soliciting illegal behaviors.)
  • Jeopardizing or losing significant relationships, jobs, or education because of pornography viewing behaviors
  • Incurring financial consequences due to pornographic viewing.

Porn Addiction Help

If you or your loved one identifies with three or more of these behaviors, it may be worth addressing with a behavioral health professional, particularly a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT). By seeking help, individuals who identify with these characteristics can make positive changes to their personal relationships, realign with their higher power, regain time that was spent on addiction, and engage more fully in life. Contact us today to get more information about our inpatient and outpatient treatment options.

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