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Porn Addiction: Everything You Need To Know

The porn industry has been transformed by the internet and sites like PornHub. Whereas people had to buy magazines, videos, or DVDs in the past if they wanted to view pornography, all one needs now is an internet connection. You don’t need to log in or pay or even commit to one particular video or set of images. For this reason, porn addiction has become a big concern in our modern society.

There are obviously mixed opinions on whether easy access to pornography online is a good or bad thing. However, there is no doubt that, for some people, watching porn becomes problematic and interferes with life. They can end up being sex addicts and they may need specific addiction treatment to end this physical addiction.

The psychiatric community has not come to a clear consensus on whether porn addiction can be classified as a psychiatric condition. However, that doesn’t mean that porn addiction is not a real problem.

Here’s everything you need to know about porn addiction: what it is, why it is problematic, and how it can be treated.

What is Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction is not classified by the DSM-V as an addiction. It is not viewed in the same light as addiction issues with alcohol and substance use problems. When we speak of porn addiction, we are therefore speaking of a set of thoughts, feelings, and sexual behavior, that are maladaptive but not technically an illness.

How Does Someone Get Addicted to Porn?

Pornography taps into one of our most primal drives: our sexuality. When we view pornography, it triggers the reward center of the brain in a similar way to how actual sexual intercourse would. It is therefore somewhat habit-forming. Watching pornography feels good and seems to have few negative effects. You can easily get caught up in a pattern that is driven by this unhealthy compulsion.

When the common symptoms of this pattern start having a negative impact on other aspects of your life, it’s a problem and you may benefit from addiction treatment.

What Are The Risk Factors?

There are a number of risk factors for porn addiction. These include biological, psychological, and social components.

The biological components are:

  • High libido
  • Genetic predisposition to impulsivity, emotion dysregulation, or sensation-seeking behavior

The psychological components are:

  • Early exposure to sexuality or pornography
  • Abuse
  • Mental health issues like anxiety, depression, impulse control disorder and performance anxiety

The social components are:

  • Rejection, especially from desired partners
  • Social isolation
  • Peer influence

Is Hypersexual Disorder Classified as an Addiction?

Porn addiction is not included in the DSM-V manual, but it was considered as a potential subcategory of the proposed “hypersexual disorder.” Hypersexual disorder refers to a pattern of behavior caused by a fixation on sex. It can lead to dysfunction in a psychological, social, or sexual sense. This disorder includes, but is not limited to, sex addiction.

Ultimately, hypersexual disorder was not included in the DSM-V. Sex addiction is a problem that can be treated with 12-Step programs among other methods. However, it is not considered an addiction in the same sense as alcoholism, substance abuse, or even gambling addiction.

Pornography Addiction

Signs of Porn Addiction

The signs and symptoms of porn addiction include anything that implies a fixation on pornography that the individual is unable to adequately control. Common symptoms include:

  • Continuous thoughts of porn, even when not viewing it
  • Viewing porn in inappropriate contexts, such as work or family events
  • Shame, guilt, and even depression related to one’s porn habit
  • Viewing pornography even when it has a negative impact on one’s life
  • Reduced sexual gratification when porn is absent
  • Trying and failing to quit
  • Losing track of time when viewing porn

Negative Effects of Pornography Addiction

Any habit is not considered an addiction unless it is having negative effects on your life. Regularly viewing pornography is therefore not necessarily problematic. It becomes a problem when it has negative consequences that affect your daily functioning.

Sexual Dysfunction

Porn can help you to get into the mood or even improve sexual intercourse. However, someone with a porn addiction may have trouble having sex with a partner without the inclusion of pornography. They may struggle to climax without it, and men may inevitably struggle with erectile dysfunction.

Psychological Problems

Porn addiction can lead to psychological issues, such as shame and guilt, as well as depression. It can also distract a person when they are at work or in a social setting, and they may be unable to focus adequately until they are able to view more pornography.

Relationship Issues

Porn can be an issue in a relationship even when it is not part of an addiction. However, individuals with a porn addiction will continue their habit even when it is causing significant harm to their relationship. Their partners may give them an ultimatum or be visibly upset and hurt, but the addict will be unable to change their behavior without intervention.

Pornography Addiction and Mental Health Disorders

Certain mental health disorders correlate with pornography addiction. People who suffer from porn addiction may also suffer from a mental health disorder like depression and anxiety. This could be a two-way correlation. Porn addiction may be a way of trying to cope with depression and anxiety, while it may also trigger depression and anxiety.

Porn Addiction and Substance Abuse

There is evidence that porn addiction can lead to sex addiction, as the individual becomes more and more fixated on sex. Furthermore, there is a correlation between porn addiction and substance abuse (which includes things like alcohol and drug addiction). This is likely due to the person’s biological and psychological propensity to addiction. It can also be attributed to other risk factors, such as isolation and mental illness.

Can Porn Addiction be Treated?

Porn addiction can be successfully treated with a variety of methods. First, the individual needs to acknowledge the need for addiction treatment. As with drug and alcohol addictions, the individual’s willingness to get treatment is necessary.

Treatment Options to Overcome Addiction to Porn

Addiction treatment options for porn addiction are quite similar to those of people who are addicted to other things.

Therapy

Individual and group therapy are both excellent treatment options. In individual therapy, the person can explore the factors that led to their addiction with a mental health professional. They can also talk about any other problems that may have influenced their habit. Group therapy helps people understand that they are not alone. They also have the opportunity to share and learn from other people’s experiences.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

With cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapist trains the person to separate thoughts and feelings, and to respond differently to them. CBT methods include reality testing, as well as techniques to stop before acting on your impulses.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy goes into the roots of your personality and your way of viewing life. Factors such as parenting styles and maladaptive coping mechanisms (learnt in childhood) may have led a person to turn to pornography to cope.

12-Step Recovery

As with any other addiction, 12-Step programs (like Sex Addicts Anonymous) exist for those suffering from pornography addiction. The 12 steps are equivalent to the steps for alcoholism, drug abuse, and all other addictions. These 12-Step meetings are available just about everywhere, and they are 100% free.

What to Do If You or Someone You Know Has a Pornography Addiction

If you have a pornography addiction, you can get treatment for it by seeking therapy or attending a 12-Step meeting. You can also help someone you know with a porn addiction who wants to get help. By recommending treatment options, you can show your support in helping them overcome their addiction. You can recommend therapy and 12-Step meetings, and provide resources to help them understand their addiction.

What about someone who has a porn addiction, who refuses to see the need to get treatment? In this case, you may need to consider an intervention with an addiction professional who will help you communicate your concerns to them in a healthy manner. These types of health professionals are highly skilled at helping people who are addicted to this type of dysfunctional behavioral.

Porn addiction is a real problem for many people today, with easy access to pornography increasing the risk exponentially. However, treatment options are available and, before long, you or your loved one can have your problem under control.

About The Author Joshua Marcus
 

Joshua Marcus is a South African freelance writer in the mental health niche. Having both studied psychology and battled his own depression, he is passionate about spreading awareness of mental illness and its treatment. He is currently traveling through South-East Asia with his husband, Kyle.

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