While most people think of substances such as illegal drugs and alcohol when they hear the word ‘addiction’, there are actually countless individuals developing harmful addictions to things like pornography. Addiction can be defined as an obsession with any substance or activity that ultimately results in negative consequences. So it is possible to become addicted to almost anything.
A pornography addiction is also classified as a sex addiction and it can be a cause for concern when it starts to impact other areas of a person’s life. While pornography is harmless fun for some people, for others it can become an obsession that interferes with their ability to carry out daily tasks.
Because it has become so easy to access porn thanks to the internet and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, more and more people are watching pornography. It is no longer necessary for individuals to buy videos or magazines in order to see porn as it is readily available within seconds online.
One of the biggest issues with pornography is the easy availability of it and the fact that people can be exposed to it at a very young age. Children and teenagers exposed to porn online may develop destructive addictions that can affect their lives as they get older.
How Pornography Addiction Affects the Brain
Addiction to pornography is similar to other addictions in that it affects the way the brain functions. Those who get a thrill from watching porn may actively seek it out in the same way that others would with drugs or alcohol. Studies have shown that, as with other addictions, porn addicts develop psychological cravings for it and feel a strong compulsion to watch, even if doing so could negatively affect them.
Stages of a Pornography Addiction
As with all other types of addiction, a pornography addiction develops in stages:
- Exposure – those who develop porn addictions tend to be exposed to it at an early age. They are quite young when they first start watching it, which can lead to a desire to watch more of it.
- Tolerance – the more a person watches porn, the less likely he or she is to get the same thrill. The individual may feel that he or she needs to watch more porn or more explicit images to get the same effect.
- Dependence – after a while, the person starts to feel a need to watch porn and it becomes a regular part of their life. He or she cannot stop watching even if they want to.
- Escalation – when regular porn stops being exciting, the porn addict may begin to look for more graphic or degrading porn. The images they are now watching could be images that they would previously have been disgusted with.
Pornography addiction can become dangerous in some individuals if they no longer get excited by images they are watching and begin to fantasise about what it would be like to act out what they are watching. Ted Bundy, the infamous serial killer, confessed to pornography being at the root of his crimes in an interview before he was executed.
Elements of a Pornography Addiction
There are a number of elements that would constitute a pornography addiction, including:
- Preoccupation – those with a pornography addiction may become preoccupied with images of a sexual nature. They tend to spend a lot of time searching for pornography images and videos to the detriment of other areas of their lives.
- Loss of Control – once an addiction has developed, the individual will be unable to control his or her urge to watch porn. Even if he or she tries to stop or limit the amount of porn being watched, they will find that they are unable to. The affected person may be able to go for a few days without watching before being overcome by a strong desire to watch again, which they are unable to resist.
- Negative Consequences – pornography has become an addiction when it begins to interfere with a person’s daily life and causes negative consequences. Those addicted to porn may neglect their responsibilities at home and work and suffer damaged relationships and financial hardship as a result.
Are You Addicted to Porn?
If you are worried that your pornography habits have become something more serious than a bit of harmless fun, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you watch pornography regularly?
- Does pornography interfere with your responsibilities at home or work?
- Are you spending more time watching porn than you used to or are you watching more explicit images?
- Do you feel anxious when you are not watching porn?
- Are you unable to get sexually aroused unless you are watching porn?
- Do you avoid spending time with family and friends in favour of watching porn?
- Do you watch porn to make yourself feel better?
If you have answered yes to more than one of the above questions, you could have a problem and should contact Addiction Helper for advice and support on available treatments.
Treating Pornography Addiction
Many people with a pornography addiction do not get the treatment they need because they are ashamed or embarrassed by their problem. Here at Addiction Helper, we would urge you to get in touch with us if you suspect that you have a problem with pornography. Just like any other addiction, a pornography addiction will not go away by itself. It is a progressive illness that will get worse if left untreated.
The good news is that you are not alone. Pornography addiction is much more common these days, and there are some fantastic treatments available from top organisations in both the public and the private sector.
By calling us here at Addiction Helper, we can put you in touch with a suitable provider where you can work with fully qualified counsellors and therapists to identify the cause of your addictive behaviour. You can also learn how to deal with triggers and cravings so that you can enjoy a life free from pornography.
For more information on the treatments available as well as advice on the next steps, call Addiction Helper today.